by Eudora Welty
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Table of Contents
1. A Worn Path: Introduction 2. Eudora Welty Biography 3. Summary 4. Characters 5. Themes 6. Style 7. Historical Context 8. Critical Overview 9. Essays and Criticism 10. Compare and Contrast 11. Topics for Further Study 12. Media Adaptations 13. What Do I Read Next? 14. Bibliography and Further Reading 15. Copyright
Eudora Welty's ''A Worn Path,'' first published in Atlantic Monthly in February, 1941, is the tale of Phoenix Jackson's journey through the woods of Mississippi to the town of Natchez. The story won an O. Henry Prize the year it was published and later appeared in Welty's collection The Wide Net. Since then, it has been frequently anthologized. At first the story appears simple, but its mythic undertones and ambiguity gives a depth and richness that has been praised by critics. Welty has said that she was inspired to write the story after seeing an old African−American woman walking alone across the southern landscape. In "A Worn Path," the woman's trek is spurred by the need to obtain medicine for her ill grandson. Along the way, Phoenix encounters several obstacles and the story becomes a quest for her to overcome the trials she faces, which mirror her plight in society at large. The story is one of the best examples of Welty's writing, which is known A Worn Path 1
for its realistic portrayal of the American South, particularly during the depression. » Back to Table of Contents
Eudora Welty was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Christian Webb and Chestina Andrews Welty. Her father was an insurance company president. She attended Mississippi State College for Women for a year and graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1929 with a major in English literature. She also attended the Columbia University Graduate School of Business where she studied advertising. After graduation, the Great Depression hampered her ability to find a job in her chosen field, so she worked as a part−time journalist and copywriter at newspapers and radio stations near her home in Mississippi. She also acquired a job as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) photographer, a job that took her on assignments throughout Mississippi. The experience of traveling throughout the South in order to observe people gave her the impetus to begin writing stories. Her first published story, "Death of a Traveling Salesman,' ' was accepted in the journal Manuscript, and within two years her work was being accepted in many publications, including the Atlantic and the Southern Review. Welty has never married, and despite stints in Wisconsin in college and New York City as a member of the New York Times Book Review staff, Welty has lived on Pinehurst Street in Jackson most of her life. Her fiction reveals these deep ties to the South, and though often set in Mississippi, her stories reveal truths about the human condition that transcend region. Welty has published several collections of short stories, six novels, and has tried her hand at plays, poems, and children's books. Welty's published photographs also reveal an artist with a sharp eye for detail and compassionate treatment of her subjects. Winner of the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Optimist's Daughter, several O. Henry Awards, two American...