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Overcoming the Odds in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

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In the short story, "A Worn Path" Eudora Welty's plot is not all that clear in the beginning, but progresses as her character carries on against the overwhelming forces against her. In this short story a black elderly woman, Phoenix Jackson, must overcome the odds against her as she valiantly travels through many obstacles in order to contribute to the wellness of her grandson, for whom she is making this trip down "a worn path." It is at this point that all of Welty's readers' hearts open up to this poor, elderly woman as she makes an attempt to carry on her love for her grandson by taking a long journey down a familiar path in order to get medication that seems to help ease his sickness pains. However, there are many forces against Phoenix that Welty includes in her story in order to make Phoenix's adventure end in a victory. Poverty, old age, and her journey through the woods are all of the odds which Phoenix must overcome.

Poverty is a major hardship that most of us will never have to face, but in

Phoenix's case, poverty is present everyday in her and her grandson's life. Since she is

In this state of poverty, Phoenix is not able to enjoy life's luxuries as others do and

Must make do with what she can. As she begins her journey, it becomes clear that she lacks

the money to pay for transportation to and from town; therefore, she starts down her path

carrying a "thin, small cane made from an umbrella" (132). Although Welty never really

emphasizes what this is used for the reader can assume that she uses it because she does

not have the money to buy the actual cane needed to help her walk properly. Another

conflict dealing with poverty arouses when she feels it necessary to steal from a hunter

she encounters in...

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...cidents indicate that Phoenix adapts to the dangers that face her,

and allows the plot to then become clear.

Welty catches the reader's attention by how real her short story seems. Even

though many people may never experience Phoenix's problems, the descriptions and

images she uses allows her to create a powerful story in which many feel they can relate

to in some way. Her three major problems, poverty, old age, and some form of a journey,

are all obstacles which all of her readers will one day face as they travel through

their own paths.

Works Cited

Jacobs, Henry E. and Roberts, Edgar V. Literature: An Introduction to Reading

and Writing. 5th ed. new Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1998: 131-137.

Oates, Joyce C. "Eudora Welty." Contemporary Literary Criticism. 1973 ed. 361.

Vande Kieft, Ruth M. Eudora Welty. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1987.
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