In “A Worn Path”, the author Eudora Welty, tells the journey of the protagonist, colored elderly woman named Phoenix, slowly but firmly makes her way down a “worn path” through the woods to the city. Throughout her journey, she encounters and overcomes many obstacles such as a thorny bush and barbed-wire fence, which allows the audience to be aware of her determination and perseverance. She reaches her destination, the clinic after the long way and she collects the medication for her ailing grandson.The landscape perceived becomes a primary focus of the vividly evoked narrative; nature is depicted as alternately beautiful but also acts as an impediment to Phoenix’s progress. As she walks along the woods, we can see how struggle she is to against intense fatigue and poor eyesight, as well as all the obstacles on the road.
The combined effects of her old age, her poor vision, and her poetic tone emphasized the lyricism of the narrative. For example, she mistaken a scarecrow for a dancing “ghost” until she draws close enough to touch its empty sleeve. The author is trying to build a determined, fierced but optimistic character to the audience.
The author identifies the central character, Phoenix in relation to the mighty bird of Egyptian folklore. Throughout the story, her age has been mentioned quite a few times “I the oldest people I ever know” which suggest a sense of immortality. Furthermore, images of vivid lives and deaths are appearing like a life cycle in the story, which also suggests that Phoenix is walking on a life cycle as well. Everytime she gets the medication is completing of one cycle , and she rises once more to travel again for the next dosage of medications for her grandson.
Her arduous journey from her home, far out in the country, to the town of Natchez to help her ailing little grandson, is a journey of love. This represents and highlights one of the main theme of the story. The grandson serves as Phoenix’s motivation, and the importance of getting to town to collect his medicine drives her for the entire journey. Phoenix risked her life for the hunter’s nickel and her dignity for the nickel at the hospital all in order to buy her grandson a ‘windmill’ that will give him a sense of the wonders of the world. However ironically, we as readers realize that although the clinic employees view Phoenix as a ‘charity case’ so they offers her free medications, but they don’t even bother to make sure that the medication can be passed down to her. Through the sharp contrast, Phoenix represents the ideal of the true goodness and love.
A story can be seen as the epitome of the world or history. The title ‘a worn path’ is a symbol Welty uses to illustrate the hardships, even battles that blacks have been through to reach equality. The path Phoenix walked through symbolizes the complicated ways that people of different races interact in the early 1940s, especially the blacks and whites. With single encounters shifting within moments from kindness to menace, helpfulness to command. A white hunter who helped Phoenix at first after she fell into the ditch, then points a gun at her, threatening her in an almost casual manner, suggests a reflection of the privilege afforded to white people at that time in the South and how the fact of their race disadvantages black people