A Worn Path

A Worn Path

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A Tattered Trail

     “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, is the tale of the unstoppable love and care of a grandmother for her grandchild. The main character in the story, Phoenix Jackson, is an old black woman who makes a long journey into town to get medicine for her ill grandson. Despite the many obstacles Phoenix encounters along her journey, determination helps her to continue. I will analyze “ A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty in terms of symbolism and characters.
     First, I will analyze “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty in terms of symbolism. One way symbolism was shown in the story was by the obstacles Phoenix encounters along her journey. The first obstacle Phoenix faces is when she gets herself tangled in a bush, and she does not want to tear her dress. Phoenix begins to take to the bush saying, “Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass, no sir” (Welty 389). Eventually, she frees herself from the bush. “ Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush” (Welty 389). This shows that you should not judge from the outside and that things are not always, what they seem to be. Another obstacle she faces is when she meets the barbed wire fence. She begins to speak to herself, “ she could not pay for having her arm or leg sawed off if she got caught fast where she was”(Welty 390). Again, determination helps her to continue. Phoenix’s name also shows symbolism. “As
Wesley 2
most critics have noted, Phoenix Jackson’s first name links her to the Egyptian myth of the bird that renews itself periodically from its own ashes”(Bartel 45). In addition, like her name, Phoenix seems ageless. When she stops to drink water from the spring she says, “Nobody know who made this well, for it was here when I was born”(Welty 391). When she encounters the hunter and he asks her how old she is she says, “There is no telling, mister, “said, “no telling” (Welty 392). Again her age is emphasized when she goes to the doctor’s office and the nurse ask her why she never went to school. “I never did go to school, I was too old at the Surrender” (Welty 394).
     Secondly, I will analyze “A Worn Path”, by Eudora Welty in terms of characters. The main character in the story is Phoenix Jackson.

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She is described as being a very old woman. “Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead, but a golden color run underneath, and the two knobs of her cheeks were illuminated by a yellow burning under the dark. (Welty 386). These all show an indication of her old age. Also, her loss of memory indicates her old age. It was only until Phoenix reached the doctor’s office she remembered why she went on her journey. “My grandson. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my trip”(Welty 394). Another character in the story was a white man who was a hunter. When Phoenix falls in the ditch, he helps her out of the ditch. Even though the hunter helps Phoenix, he still poses as a threat to her, because it seems he did not want her to finish her journey. This is made apparent when he states, “Why, that’s too far! That’s as far as I walk when I come out myself, and I get something for my trouble”(Welty 391). This shows that the advice given to you is not always the best. Phoenix’s grandson, whose throat had been severely
burned by lye, is also an important character in the story. He is the reason why she goes on her journey to town. In the story, Phoenix describes her grandson to the nurse. “My grandson, he sit up there in the house all wrapped up, waiting by himself,” Phoenix went on. He got a sweet look. He wear a little patch quilt and peep out holding his mouth open like a little bird”(Welty 394).
     In summary, I have analyzed “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty in terms of symbolism, and characters. Fate can control humans’ lives and can help humans reach the end of the challenging path. Phoenix’s ability to make the journey and overcome these challenges shows her strong determination, and the will power to endure hardship to finish her task.














Work Cited
Bartel, Roland. “Life and Death in Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path.’” USA: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1998. 45-48
Eudora Welty. “Is Phoenix Jackson’s Grandson Really Dead?” ‘A Worn Path’”. USA: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1998
Kirsznerand and Mandell, Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Earl McPeek. USA: Harcout, Inc., 2001, 1997,1994,1991. 388-395
Study Notes. Cliff Notes: ‘ “The Complete Series.” http://www.studyworld.com/literature/novels/a_worn_path.htm. 1996-1997
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