Race and Racism
Issues of race often inform Welty’s fiction for the fact that so much of her fiction is set in Mississippi during the 1940s and 1950s. Phoenix’s brief encounters on her journey typify the views of many Southern whites during the era. A white hunter helps her out of a ditch but patronizes her and trivializes her journey: “I know you old colored people! Wouldn’t miss going to town to see Santa Claus!” He also taunts her by pointing his loaded gun at her and asking, “Doesn’t the gun scare you?” Through these exchanges, Welty shows how some whites regarded blacks. He also calls her “Granny,” a term common for older African-American women. Often whites would call older blacks “Aunt,” “Granny,” or “Uncle” as a way of denying them their dignity and individuality. In another example of this, the nurse calls her “aunt Phoenix” instead of the more formal “Mrs. Jackson.” Although no one in the story is actually rude or discriminatory towards Phoenix, Welty demonstrates the subtle persecutions that blacks suffer in a white world.
Duty and Responsibility
Phoenix Jackson is mobilized by her sense of duty to her grandson. Because she is the only person her grandson has to rely on — “We is the only two left in the world,” she tells the nurse — she is determined to make it to town to obtain the medicine that will soothe his injured throat. Her sense of responsibility dominates her personality, overcoming her encroaching senility, her poor eyesight, and her difficulty in walking. Phoenix relates her determination with a sense of urgency to the hunter: she tells the hunter: “I bound to go to town, mister. . . . The time come around.” In the character of Phoenix, Welty... [continues]
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(2010, 10). Worn Path. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 10, 2010, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Worn-Path-442196.html
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"Worn Path." StudyMode.com. 10, 2010. Accessed 10, 2010. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Worn-Path-442196.html.