An analysis of “A Worn Path”
A time of trial and tribulation, the early 1900’s often became a perilous experience for those who were of a skin color other than white, predominately the black race. New laws were made concerning the livelihood of black people at this time, often marking them as subservient to their white counterparts. Laws such as the Jim Crow era laws are examples of this. After the Civil War, life was very difficult for everyone, as the country had faced severe losses in the north and south, not to mention the conditions of southern land. After the Civil War, black people were technically free, but to have a life all of their own was a very difficult feat, as they had been provided for by their masters in pre-Civil War life. Furthermore, in the progressive era, the early 1900’s, many black people where still struggling to get on their feet and make a life for themselves. John Dittmer agrees, stating, “Where black America is concerned, however, there remains a consensus that the progressive era was “for whites only.” Race violence, urban ghettos, and Jim Crow laws, along with continuing economic exploitation and deprivation, made this the nadir of Afro-American history.” This idea is represented in Eudora Welty’s short story, “A Worn Path.” This story is about a black woman named Phoenix Jackson—her name bearing great significance, as she was rising from these events aforementioned. Ergo, Phoenix, the main character of “A Worn Path,” correctly represents her name in three major ways, in that she stands up to a white man, perseveres despite forces against her, and last, Phoenix exceeds what was expected in the beginning.
Initially, Eudora Welty portrays the phoenix of this story using the char...
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...rove her to attain and achieve great things. Bloom completes this idea, “Phoenix might be seen as the archetypal mother whose spirit remains undefeated even as she faces the hopelessness of her situation. Her path is worn not only because she has traveled it many times but also because it has been followed by countless self-sacrificing others.” The idea of self-sacrifice for the sake of ‘rising from the ashes,’ is an ongoing theme throughout the history of the United States, predominately among the black population of the 1860’s through the 1960’s. Overcoming trials and making something out of nothing was a goal for many, and Phoenix Jackson’s story illustrates this idea in Eudora Welty’s short story, “A Worn Path.” In conclusion, Phoenix displays her power by standing up to higher powers, pushes on despite tribulation, and exceeds expectations for the sake of love.
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