Literary Analysis: "A Worn Path"

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In “A Worn Path” colors are used to emphasize the depth and breadth of the story, and to reinforce the parallel images of the mythical phoenix and the protagonist Phoenix Jackson. Eudora Welty’s story is rich with references to colors that are both illustrative and perceptive, drawing us in to investigate an additional historical facet of the story. The surface story is a poor black grandma’s journey with an errand; to get medicine for her grandchild burned by lye. The colors used apprise the reader of another story. This parallel story uses color to tell us of a journey taken by a poor, black, disenfranchised people to completely own their legal and civil rights; they have been burned by lies. “A Worn Path” uses the journey of this one remarkable woman to serve as a lens to view the hardships of the African American people. Welty tells the story with “some dreams and harassments and a small triumph or two, some jolts to [Phoenix’s] pride, some flights of fancy to console her, one or two encounters to scare her, a moment that gave her cause to be ashamed, a moment to dance and preen…” (quoted in Moberly, 109). The early harassments evoke symbols of slavery such as coming through the “dark pine shadows” in slave garb, “dark striped dress…an equally long apron of bleached sugar sacks…all neat and tidy” (Roberts, 95). The “chains about my feet” and the uphill climb is descriptive of literally being a slave in chains. Being caught in the “pretty green bush” (Rogers, 96) that turns out to be a thorn bush is a figurative hard worn path to equal rights, with unseen snags and pitfalls. “Purple stalks” (Rogers, 96) and the buzzard and through the “old cotton” (Rogers, 96) represents the mourning of the African American people,... ... middle of paper ... ...79): 92. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. Herodotus, Histories 2. 73 (trans. Godley) (Greek historian C5th B.C.) Keys, Marilyn. "A WORN PATH': THE WAY OF DISPOSSESSION." Studies in Short Fiction 16.4 (1979): 354. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. McGerr, Angela Moberly, Kevin. “TOWARD THE NORTH STAR: EUDORA WELTY’S “A WORN PATH” AND THE SLAVE NARRATIVE TRADITION” Roberts, Edgar V., Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, 4th Compact Edition, Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2008, print Sykes, Dennis J. "Welty's The Worn Path." Explicator 56.3 (1998): 151. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 26 Apr. 2011. Welty, Eudora. “A Worn Path.” Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts. 4th Compact Ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2008, pp. 95-100.
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