Immortal Ideas In "A Worn Path"

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Upon a first reading of Eudora Welty’s, “A Worn Path”, it appears to be a simple story about an old woman going into town to procure medicine for her sick grandson, who has swallowed lye (Welty 3). After further readings and doing research, the deep meaning and depth of the story becomes apparent. The worn path is much more than a routine route regularly traversed into town and back to home. The protagonist Phoenix Jackson has many more layers than the way she is perceived as an apparent no account drifter, charity case, whose only reason to head into town is to see Santa Clause (Welty 2). There is significant meaning behind the interactions with people, places, and objects that Phoenix crosses paths with on her journey into town. Every interaction and situation presents Phoenix with the opportunity to learn and grow as a person and as a culture. The sick grandson represents more than a sick boy at home waiting for medicine to heal his physical ailment (Welty 3). Welty uses a myriad of symbols to tell the story of the long and arduous journey blacks take going from slavery to free Americans. A journey that takes lifetimes of accumulating knowledge, gaining wisdom, and then passing everything learned to the children. The next generation builds on to, and hones the gained wisdom and further refines the knowledge as they pass it on to the next generation. It is the gained wisdom that is constantly reborn like the Phoenix in mythology (Mercantante 527). In, “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, Phoenix Jackson symbolizes the past and present population of black Americans and the worn path represents her experiences and the wisdom she has gained, soon to be reincarnated in her grandson, the future generation of black America. The... ... middle of paper ... ...ology and Legend. New York: Facts on File, 1988. 527. Print. Moberly, Kevin. “Toward the North Star.” Explicator 13.2. (2009): 107-126. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 November 2011. Phillips, Robert. “Welty.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Daniel Marowski. Vol. 33. Detroit : Gale Research Company. 1985. 419. Print. Schmitt, Deborah. Ed. “Welty.” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 105. Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1998. 320. Print. Sheets, Anna . Ed. “A Worn Path.” Short Story Criticism. Vol. 27. Detroit: Gale Research Company. 1998. 331-340. Print. Sykes, Dennis. “Welty’s The Worn Path.” Explicator 56.3. (2011): 2-3. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 November 2011. Welty, Eudora. “A Worn Path.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, Pearson. 2005. 285-290. Print.
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