A Worn Path
Length: 948 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)
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“A Worn Path”
The short story, “A Worn Path,” is about an old Negro woman named Phoenix who travels a long distance to a town to get medicine for her grandson. The trip is extremely long and tiresome for an old lady but she feels that it is her duty to get her laboring grandson the needed medicine. Throughout the story, Phoenix encounters dreams, harassments, small triumphs, jolts to her pride, some flights of fancy to console her, a cause to be ashamed, and a moment to dance and preen.
In her journey, Phoenix experiences dreams, harassments, and small triumphs. She experienced a dream when a black dog popped out of the weeds by a ditch and advanced toward her. She later on found herself in the ditch. That is when her senses drifted away. She said, “Old woman, that black dog come up out of the weeds to stall you off, and now there he sitting on his fine tail, smiling at you.” The quote shows how she was not right in the mind after the dog attacked her. Her senses drifted away causing her to experience a dream in which she talked to herself and meditated about her life. Although the young white hunter who helped her get out of the ditch was sort of disrespectful, there was another person that one might find more disrespectful. The harassments she faced throughout her journey were found in the environment. She had to go through a series of hills and bad terrain. The part she struggled the most was through the barbed-wire fence. She had to “creep and crawl, spreading her knees and stretching her fingers like a baby trying to climb the steps.” The quote shows that she was having a very difficult time in trying to pass the barbed-wire fence. For a very old lady with an extremely long distance to travel, the barbed-wire fence proved to be the most stressful. It seemed like she put all of her effort and strength in able to overcome that obstacle. Phoenix experienced a small triumph toward the end of the story. She took the nickel she received from the young white hunter and combined it with the nickel that the attendant gave her. She bought a little paper windmill for her grandson with the money. She buys the windmill to please her son and make him realize that there is “such a thing in the world.
Phoenix experiences some jolts to her pride and some flights of fancy to console her throughout her journey. Phoenix encounters a young white hunter who helped her out of the ditch when she was attacked by the black dog. The man dropped a nickel and Phoenix practically drooled over it. The black dog was attacking his own dog on a leash. When Phoenix went to pick up the nickel that belonged to the hunter, she looked up only to find a gun pointing at her face. She was not at all scared. Phoenix said, “No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done.” The quote shoes Phoenix’s courage and bravery. She was not scared of anyone. The young hunter laughed it off and gave Phoenix the nickel. The nickel was part of some flights of fancy to console her. The nickel would help her to buy the little paper windmill for her son. Another flight of fancy to console her was the nickel given to her by the attendant as a Christmas gift. Both nickels were given to her as a reward for how far she traveled just to get her grandson some medicine to better his life. Phoenix showed that she loved her grandson very much by making this long journey.
Phoenix had a cause to be ashamed and a moment to dance and preen in the story. Phoenix said, “I never did go to school…I’m an old woman without an education.” She was very ashamed that she never received an education. She was even more ashamed that her grandson was much like she was, without an education. Phoenix felt very sad when she explained to the doctor that she wasn’t educated. It seemed like a secret she had kept all her life and in just a moment, it all came gushing out with sorrow. Phoenix had a moment to dance and preen in the story. When she passed through a field of dead corn, she encountered what she at first thought was a ghost. However, it turned out to be a scarecrow. She says, “My senses is gone. I too old. I the oldest people I ever know. Dance old scarecrow while I dancing with you.” The quote shows that she is losing her mind and that she feels lonely. She tries to cheer herself up by communicating and dancing with a scarecrow. She wants to have fun on the trip but no one is there to talk to. The scene shows how important relationships are in life. Without someone in your life, you feel empty inside. At this point, Phoenix feels empty since no one is there for her.
Phoenix’s journey takes on mythic significance and relates to the quests of heroes and heroines. Throughout the entire journey, she shows how valiant and brave she was. She did not want to stop for anything. She marched on, mile by bloody mile, in order to get the medicine for her grandson. She was not scared of anything. She did not flinch when the hunter pointed a gun at her head. Lastly, she made it throughout the trip, safe and sound. Her efforts were very courageous like that of a heroine.