A Worn Path A Substantial Amount of Symbolism

The journey through the worn path is symbolism of the path of life. The story is based on an old southern African American women, Phoenix Jackson, and her journey to town to pick up her grandsons medication. The obstacles that Phoenix Jackson faces along the way are equivalent to the trials of life. In this paper, I will argue the symbolism behind this story. Every obstacle Phoenix faces along the way has symbolism.

Phoenix Jackson was not like every other women. She was blind and used a cane to make her way to town. Throughout this story it is said the walk to town was dreadful. Having many fields and forest trees. For someone that is blind and hard of waking, this couldn’t have been her first time taking this long journey.

Her innocence of bending down and sipping from a stream can be symbolism of a child. Phoenix being an old African American women could be looked at as a minority back then and today. Phoenix also walks to town verses taking a taxi or having someone drive her. Phoenix encounters a young white hunter but only notices a nickel fall from his pocket. Which could be symbolism of how she can’t see well but still sees the money because she is poor.

Phoenix Jackson is an older women but still makes the journey for her beloved grandson. She had many obstacles but not all situations were bad. Had it not been for the young white hunter helping her out of the ditch she might still be in it. There is symbolism in this event. The old women represents the minority while the young hunter represents the majority. The symbolism being that the minority is always depending on majority to help them.

Phoenix finally approaches the town. She makes her way to the doctor’s office to retrieve the medication for her grandson. When she arrives she is greeted by a grumpy desk worker. The desk worker isn’t nice until the nurse reassures them. The nurse says Phoenix is there for medication and they know her. Symbolizing that people are quick to judge others by their race.

Phoenix had a dream while resting in the woods. While she was resting she saw a shadow of a kid in front of her offering a piece of marble cake. The marble cake was a symbolism for African Americans and whites. In this time racism was very big. The colors mixing showed that black and white people can be together. The dream shows us that Phoenix hoped someday racism would be gone and colors would no longer matter.

When Phoenix goes through the pine woods she says Trees surrounded the forest, crying out for help the trees and crying out symbolize Phoenix trying to escape from the forest. She went through cold weather, ditches, hills, thorns, wild animals, and the white hunter. In her article, Phoenix: reveals in ?The Worn Path’ Welty, Eudora notes The incident with the hunter symbolizes the resiliency of the black movement toward equality All of these obstacles was for her grandson. This shows how much Phoenix Jackson loves her grandson.

Phoenix’s journey to and from the store is symbolic of the life she lived. She is an old women taking care of her grandson the best she can. She is poor because she never went to school. She is African American which put racism in her path. Even through everything, she stays strong. Strength and determination in the face of hardship. This demonstrates that no matter what she had to go through she was determined to take care of Jackson.

A Worn Path Critical Analysis

The short story A Worn Path is one of Eudora Welty’s most notable fictional stories. A Worn Path takes place in the rural South during the 1930s in the beginning of winter season. The setting of this story plays a major role of the imagery set by Welty. The brilliant use of tone and imagery by the main character helped to make the story feel real. In A Worn Path, Welty presents Christian imagery in the main character, Phoenix Jackson, from the obstacles she encounters on a journey to help a family member.

As the story opens up, right away, Welty describes the setting. The setting of the story takes place in December. The significance of the time of year is that it is close to Christmas which, according to the Bible, is the time of the birth of Christ. When thinking of the birth of Christ, things like new beginnings, new paths, and new journeys come to mind. As it ties to the main character, Phoenix Jackson, its not so much of a new path, but a new journey with new encounters that symbolizes that of the birth of Christ.

Along with the setting, the main character’s name, Phoenix Jackson, is also an example of symbolism. The phoenix is a mythical bird that lives for several hundred years and dies in flames but is reborn again to start a new long life. (Leafloor 2014) The symbolism of the bird conveys a couple of different meanings. For example, the immortality of the bird relates to Christianity and the idea of being born again. Also, Welty compares the appearance of Ms. Jackson to a solitary little bird illustrating that she is alone on the journey she is taking. Lastly, Welty uses the bird, that flies over Ms. Jacksons head as she takes the hunters nickel, as a symbol of God watching over her as she does a bad deed.

Another example of biblical imagery in A Worn Path is when Phoenix Jackson says, Now comes the trial Welty writes that Ms. Jackson put her right foot out, mounted the log and shut her eyes. This part of the short story closely relates to the bible verse walk by faith and not by site which according to Dena Johnson Martin means to not go by what one see’s, but what one believes. While on her journey, Ms. Phoenix Jackson came across many obstacles and hardships that should have turned her around but she didn’t let them stop her; she continued to complete her journey. Welty very well delivers this concept through the encounters of phoenix Jackson by not only writing it but allowing the main character to narrate, grasping the readers attention more. Even though Welty didn’t consciously write this story to relate to Christian aspects, she perceived the idea through the main character over shadowing ideas of Christianity.

Lastly, the entire journey of Phoenix Jackson in the short story A Worn Path imitates that of Christ when he carried the cross to cavalry. Welty mentioned Ms. Jackson getting her dress caught on a thorn bush, running into a scare crow, forgetting what she came to the doctor for and more but she continued. The biblical symbolism in the entire story was very visible yet hidden. Hidden from those who are unfamiliar with the Christian religion and visible to those who follow the Christian religion. The ties that Ms. Phoenix Jackson has between her and Christ is that both of them were determined to put themselves in danger in order to not help themselves but help others. Welty definitely delivered a message of faith through the difficult encounters faced by Ms. Jackson and it very closely symbolizes the acts of Christianity and the many people who live by the ideas of the religion today.

In conclusion, Welty uses biblical imagery in her short story A Worn Path that is narrated by a very strong-minded protagonist that puts herself into harms way just to help someone else. This story relates to so many real-world situations that people may go through everyday. Welty really anchored portraying the religion of Christianity in the journey and life of the main character Ms. Phoenix Jackson.

Works Cited

  1. Martin, Dena Johnson. What Does It Mean to Walk by Faith? Crosswalk.com, Salem Web Network, 14 Aug. 2014, www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/what-does-it-mean-to-walk-by-faith.html.
  2. “Critical Analysis Of A Worn Path English Literature Essay.” UKEssays.com. 11 2013. All Answers Ltd. 10 2018

Literary Analysis of A Worn Path

A Worn Path by Eudora Welty, a story of perseverance, love, courage, and kindness. Phoenix Jackson, an elderly African American woman, traveling on foot through the many terrains of Natchez Trace, Mississippi. During her journey through the Trace she runs into a hunter and his dog that come her aid after she falls.

She makes her way into the town of Natchez, where she stops a lady shopper on the street to ask for assistance in tying her shoe laces. She continues through town, decorated for Christmas, to the physician’s office in a tall building to get medicine for her grandson. A not so friendly office attendant received her at the desk, fortunately a nurse knew who she was. The nurse reluctantly brought her the medicine that she had come so far for. The same not so friendly attendant handed her a nickel in the Christmas spirit. Phoenix left and settled on going to buy her grandson a paper windmill on the way out of town.

Phoenix moves along through her journey and her hardships. The forest animals she has to run off and tells them to stay out from under her feet. The bushes, trees and branches that seem to grab at her to keep her from moving on. She doesn’t give up on the journey no matter what is thrown at her. Her striped dress, apron made of sugar sacks, her untied, unlaced shoes and her cane made of an old umbrella show how impoverished her life is. Added to this when she picks up a nickel the hunter drops hoping that he won’t notice, he does but doesn’t let on after he comes back with his dog from running off a stray that had gone after her.
Was she given the name Phoenix because she perseveres through all of this and rises up from the ashes to overcome like the mythical Phoenix?

The courage Phoenix shows standing up to the hunter when he discredits her, implies she is too old to walk as far as he does while he is hunting and points his rifle in her face like she is too old and feeble to take care of herself. Her courage is also shown when the office attendant and nurse keep pointing out that she is a charity case. She just stands there looking at them with an unflinching look on her face. The courage she has comes from the love in her heart, not from being stronger or richer than she is.

Throughout the story is implied that Phoenix is not only old physically but old mentally. When she sits down beside the creek after crossing by way of a log, the young boy brings her a plate of cake, but the boy and the cake weren’t really there. When she is at the physician’s office and has to sit and remember why she is there and how her grandson is. Her memory had left her. Welty describes her skin as having numberless branching wrinkles, like having a small tree on her forehead.

A Worn Path is illustrated in the old south, not long after the slaves had been freed after the Civil War. This is depicted in more than one way in this story. How people treat Phoenix when she comes across them, the hunter for example, how he talks to her like she is still a slave, not really worth his conversation, or how he calls her granny instead of being courteous and calling her ma’am. When she comes across the lady shopper on the street in town, how she to refers to her as grandma when stopped on the street. Phoenix treats the racial strife as just another hinderance in her journey. She just sticks out her stiff chin and takes it in stride.

I have learned from this story that no matter our age, race, or societal class, we all make sacrifices for the ones that we love. That we all have pride when it comes to those thinking we need help or charity. No one wants to feel like they need help or charity. The story made me think of my own grandmother and how if she was treated the way Phoenix was, I would have to stand up for her. Although she is one of the strongest women I know, she could have, like Phoenix, without a doubt taken care of herself. If felt sad for Phoenix but also for the racist/unsympathetic characters. At the time of this story, no one had learned yet to consider others for who they are rather than the color of their skin. Phoenix had tons of love in her heart and talk to others as people not their race. After reading the story a few times and then talking about short stories in class, I read A Worn Path out loud. More than once, and to my son. This really does help you to learn, understand and comprehend a story.

About novel a Worn Path

“A Worn Path” is a novel by Eudora Welty. The points of analysis will explore the theme, examples of symbolism and the message or purpose Eudora Welty was trying to convey in the story.

This story is set in Mississippi during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Although this was decades after the end of the Civil War and the emancipation of southern slaves, people in Mississippi were still suffering from the negative social and economic consequences the war brought.

The story has many themes. A theme worth noting is the perseverance and power Phoenix Jackson has. The story’s title, A Worn Path, alludes to thepathPhoenixhas walked many times before to Natchez to get medicine for her sickgrandson. Another thing the title also alludes to is the idea of lifePhoenix’s life in particularIt is seen as a journey that is made by repeated passage through and endurance of the world around her, and suggests that such endurance has a slow power that will ultimately leave behind a mark or path through that world.

Now we will explore one of the many examples of symbolism. An example can be seen in the story’s title. The story can be thought of as a kind of road trip.Seems like there is chains about my feet, time I get this farSomething always takes a hold of me on this hill”pleads I should stay. (Welty, E. (2012). A Worn Path Prentice Hall:Literature, Grade 10, Part 2, Common Core Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. (pp.848-856). Retrieved fromhttps://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781256493914)

Phoenix’stravels are spread over many kinds of surfaces, from sand, to wagon trails, to sidewalks. She also encounters many obstacles along her path, from the thorns to the stream crossing, a racist hunter,a scarecrow, and the lone dog. Some of the obstacles are foreseen; and most were surprises to her.

In this essay we analyzed how Eudora Welty’s A Worn Path explores the theme of perseverance and an example of symbolism from the story. The moral that readers can take from the story is that love can become so deeply ingrained in the human heart that it becomes a habit that exists beyond conscious thought or reason. That unselfish love inspires courage, compassion, and sacrifice. And finally how the human spirit can endure, despite the forces of nature and society that would destroy it.

The story is A Worn Path by Eudora Welty

The story is about an older women named Phoenix Jackson, who is a poor black women, she is walking through the woods on her way to town and she runs into thorny bushes, a barbed wire fence and a big dog that knocks her down into a ditch. A Hunter comes to help her out and then she continues into town, where she gets medicine for her grandson that she says is still sick. Thorns, you doing your appointed work.

Never want to let folks pass, no sir. Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush. The theme of this story can be with determination you can overcome every obstacle.

The setting is Christmas time in Natchez, Mississippi, its around the 1930s in the Great Depression era. This contributes to the theme because it was a hard time for everybody and they were facing many obstacles.

The conflicts in the story are Phoenix Jackson vs. Nature Obstacles on her way into town Has to travel through the woods Phoenix Jackson vs. Racism/Society Racism was big in that time era (KKK) The Hunter even says to her Doesn’t the gun scare you? The good in the world vs. the bad in the world The stories point of view is Third Person Omniscient because the narrator knows Phoenix’s thoughts and feelings. With the story being in Third Person we are able to know more about Phoenix Jackson, she is hardworking, caring and determined to help her grandson. We don’t know anything about her grandson besides that he is sick. The Hunter in the story is helpful to Phoenix Jackson, but also somewhat racist. There are a few smaller characters like the nurse and the black dog. The tone of the story is sympathetic and hopeful because throughout the story the narrator seems to admire that Phoenix keeps going along. At last she was safe through the fence and risen up out in the clearing. this quote shows how the narrator is happy she was safe.

Another quote that shows that the narrator admires Phoenix is, She lifted her free hand, gave a little nod, turned around, and walked out of the doctor’s office. Then her slow step began on the stairs, going down. There is in the story, an example of situational irony is when the nurse asks if Phoenix is a charity case, this is ironic because Phoenix is not a charity case and is stealing money from the nurse and the Hunter. Another example of situational irony is when the Hunter says I’d give you a dime if I had any money with me. this is ironic because the Hunter did give her a dime when it fell out of his pocket, he just didn’t realize it.

Symbolism

The hunter symbolizes racism the marble cake that she dreams of, She did not dare to close her eyes, and when a little boy brought her a plate with a slice of marble-cake on it she spoke to him. symbolizes a blending of blacks and whites. The paper windmill she plans to buy her grandson symbolizes the good in the world. The black dog that knocks her over symbolizes the bad in the world, like enemies and people who just want to knock you down.

Inspiration Through Storytelling: Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path”

Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path” is a heartwarming and inspiring narrative. Welty takes readers on a dangerous, vulnerable, slightly thrilling, and heartening journey that works to remind people of the power of limitless and unconditional love. Welty illustrates this through Phoenix Jackson’s trip to acquire crucial medicine for her sickly grandchild—he is also the sole incentive for making the journey, yet this is not the point of the story. Although the purpose of the story at first seems uncomplicated because it appears to be a short errand, it is quickly revealed through the backstory and details Welty provides that the errand is one of a love that is unwavering and will never die out. While such a concept may appear unrealistic, of idealistic, in real life, the initial scene Welty provides—a poor, elderly, and sickly grandmother in tattered clothes with a makeshift cane walking in cold weather—helps readers realize it is not so far from real life as it may seem. Welty reveals the power of love through Phoenix Jackson’s bravery and determination—she tells of an inspiring story that illustrates the concept that love is a habit and that love is so penetrating that it can break through all the human emotions that tend to destroy one’s happiness.

As the reader dives deeper into the story, it becomes clear that the many occurrences Phoenix confronts on her trip are somewhat representations of real-life occurrences. Welty portrays a lifetime’s journey through the scope of a particular situation where Phoenix Jackson walks a long and worn path to help with her grandchild’s sickness. Welty explains in her essay that the “adventures” she created for Phoenix on her way to getting the medicine had the purpose of truly representing a journey, a life’s journey, which is infused with uncertainty and many of the human emotions that people come across in real life. “A Worn Path” is an uplifting story that is meant to remind people that such an endless love can exist and it is more powerful than fear of death, confusion stemming from old age, or difficulty doing the things one once had no trouble doing. All the adventures and feelings Phoenix comes across on her trip work to ensure readers that the love that is promised in Welty’s story through Phoenix is extremely powerful and important in order for a relationship to thrive.

Through Phoenix’s situation, Welty demonstrates multiple important concepts that work to explain the meaning of the story, which can be deduced to that Phoenix’s trip was one she made to “aid in life, not death.” In addition to illustrating love’s power, she explains the concept that love is a habit. While this idea may, for some, seem to need to include questions about human nature, such complications do not have to be part of this concept because the habit of love is what people forget to accept when they begin to think about such questions about the universe, or human nature perhaps, that humans simply can’t answer. Welty took this idea about love and carved it to fit into a heartening story that is much easier for readers to appreciate, as opposed to the endless conversations about “good versus bad.” To further express this, Welty writes that Phoenix simply knew where to go because her feet told her—as if it was habit. By saying that her bravery and determination in making the trip was simply a habit, it helps explain that it is not something to idealize or be afraid of because it is already ingrained in us.

The question that Welty attends to in her essay is whether the grandchild is dead, yet when the real meaning of the story is interpreted, it can be deduced that the answer to this will not change the reason for writing the story. Welty elaborates by saying that her answer to the question is simply that Phoenix is alive—and that is all that matters. While humans tend to find horror and death entertaining, in a story about unquestionable love, there is no space for such concepts, and this is because I believe Welty did not solely write the story to entertain, but to illustrate as best she could what beauty humans are capable of. Welty writes in her essay, “…the question is not whether the grandchild is alive or dead. It doesn’t affect the outcome of the story or its meaning from start to finish.” Although the story Welty wrote is a short story, and obviously much is most likely reduced to satisfy margins of paper and limits on length, Welty manages to refrain from making Phoenix seem as if she is rushed, yet readers know that she will not turn back from her task. According to Welty, Phoenix, no matter what confronts her, will always get the medicine for her grandchild as long as she is able to.

Welty’s main argument explains that her path is what’s important, hence the title which s meant to illustrate that the many times she has walked the path and the many times she will walk it are what’s important in the story. The grandchild is the incentive for making the trip, yet by the end of the story, most can realize that his presence is not even required because Welty has made it quite explicit she will always make the trip. This particular idea is what invalidates the possibility that the grandchild needs to be alive in order for Phoenix’s trip to be meaningful and inspiring. Someone who wants to do something for someone else, and who is sincerely happy to do it, would not concern themselves with the outcome because it is not what is important. Welty attempts to illustrate this reality through Phoenix—and she is successful in explaining on paper the power of a profound love.

Symbolism in “A Worn Path”

Life is filled with different twists and turns, unexpected obstacles, and experiences never forgotten. Eudora Welty writes A Worn Path with a sense of symbolism that captures the struggles and pleasures of life. Welty uses symbolism as a bridge to connect the reader to their own inner battles and give A Worn Path a deeper meaning than that of an old lady walking through the woods. Phoenix Jackson is an older woman and is the main character of this short story, whose ragged clothing and wrinkled face shows that her life has been nothing but unforgettable experiences.

The thorn bush is one the first symbols that appears in the short story. Phoenix gets caught on the bush and instead of letting it hold her back on her journey, she continues to push through. Among the people that Phoenix Jackson meets along her trip, one of the more significant ones would be the young, white hunter with the black dog. The dialogue he uses with Phoenix Jackson is notably different than that that she uses with the people she meets in town, and he has an impression on her that hints towards her life and how she grew up.The third symbol is the paper windmill Phoenix Jackson buys for her grandson. While a minor symbol, it ties together the entirety of the story using simplistic symbolism to signal how selflessness is one of the keys to Phoenix Jackson’s lifestyles. In Eudora Welty’s A Worn Path, Wetly uses minor symbols and significant characters to make an impression on the reader as they learn more about Phoenix Jackson and her lifestyle choices. Welty uses a thorn bush, a young hunter and his dog, and a paper windmill to tie together the idea that life is filled with all sorts of experiences that will shape your life in one way or another, no matter how major or minor they might be.

While walking on her journey into town, Phoenix Jackson gets her dress caught on a bush. She takes her time untangling herself from the thorns, and explains to herself that the thorns are “just doing what they were made to”. The thorns on this bush symbolize the struggles that Jackson has faced throughout her life, or that everyone experiences at one point or another. When she mentions that the thorns are doing what they were made to do, it shows the reader that even the most inconvenient of times are meant to happen the way they do for one reason or another. “Old eye thought you was a pretty little green bush”, says Jackson as she sits on the ground to untangle her skirt from the thorn bush. This phrase signals to readers that even though she expected an experience to be pleasant, things do not always happen as anticipated. The thorn bush is an obstacle that Phoenix Jackson must overcome in order to continue her journey. Though it is a small part of the story, the thorn bush is a major role in Phoenix Jackson’s journey because it symbolizes that not all obstacles appear to be trouble at first, or are more trouble than they need to be.

The young hunter with his dog comes during Phoenix Jackson’s journey and it is important to note that Welty points out his race: white. This brings in a number on conversations about the dialogue the hunter uses with Jackson and how it symbolizes race issues. The hunter comes across Phoenix Jackson, or “Granny” as he calls her, with his dog while she’s in a creek. He sees that she is old and more than likely lost. The dialogue changes into a more assertive tone between the two when the hunter realizes how old and what race Jackson is. She might be crazy or homeless because of how ragged she is dressed. “Well, Granny,” he said, “you must be a hundred years old, and scared of nothing. I’d give you a dime if I had any money with me. But you take my advice and stay home, and nothing will happen to you”. Jackson confirms with the hunter that she has been around violence in her day, confirming that this symbol links back to racial issues and disturbances in the story. With Jackson being old enough to not say her age, this shows that she has experienced much of history.

The paper windmill is the last and smallest symbol that symbolizes life on Phoenix Jackson’s journey down A Worn Path. The paper windmill is bought with two nickels, all Jackson has left of her money. She buys it for her grandson, who she made the journey for. The paper windmill symbolizes selflessness and generosity that should be given during a persons lifetime. Jackson went far out of her way and into town to purchase this paper windmill for her grandson with the last bit of money that she had. It shows that she cares more about her grandsons happiness than she does about how tedious and hard the journey might be, especially for someone her age. “I going to the store and buy my child a little windmill they sells, made out of paper. He going to find it hard to believe there such a thing in the world. I’ll march myself back where he waiting, holding it straight up in this hand”, says Jackson in one of the last paragraphs in the story. This quote proves that she is more concerned about pleasing her grandson and making sure he is entertained than she is about taking such a long journey away from home. While he thinks she went to go retrieve medicine, she will come back and surprise him with a gift.

Symbolism is seen throughout the entire short story of A Worn Path by Eudora Wetly. However, some of the more important ones handle issues such as obstacles, race, and happiness. The thorn bush symbolizes how life contains obstacles that are difficult, tedious, and sometimes hidden or masked. Jackson talks to the bush mentioning how she did not even see the thorns, and that is what makes them such an obstacle. The young, white hunter and his dog symbolize race issues that Jackson had experienced during her long life. Jackson is old enough to have seen violence in her neighborhoods growing up and the young hunter does not want any trouble for her so he demands her to go home and stay out of the way. The paper windmill symbolizes how love and happiness can overcome any obstacle in life that Jackson has to overcome. Despite a long journey for Jackson, the happiness that it would ultimately provide for her grandson made A Worn Path worth traveling. All of these symbols show how life is filled with different experiences and opportunities. Phoenix Jackson has made the most of her life through her worn and ragged looks described at the beginning of the story. Welty uses these symbols to show the trials and tribulations of life.