A Worn Path - 6

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Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" is a story rich in mythological tales and figures, the most prominent being the legend of the phoenix. There are several symbols and references made during the course of the story to the legend of the phoenix. The phoenix, or bennu, comes from Egyptian mythology. As with most myths, there are variations on the myth, but the most common representation of the phoenix is a large scarlet and gold bird. The phoenix has been credited with amazing powers: the ability to appear and disappear in the blink of an eye and to heal, for example. Perhaps the most incredible power is the determination of the phoenix to travel to Heliopolis, the sun city, towards the end of its life. It is in Heliopolis that the phoenix's incredible life cycle starts over. It makes a nest and catches fire from the sun, bursting into flame. From the ashes, it is reborn, leaving its nest until the next time it returns - 1000 years later. From her name and appearance to her behavior and the symbolism running throughout the story, Phoenix Jackson is the embodiment of the phoenix.

Phoenix's name is quite obviously the biggest indication as to what she symbolizes. Many people in their lives have seen some representation of the phoenix bird, even if it was only Fawkes from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The phoenix conjures up feelings of hope, security, and promise. Its job is to protect, as Fawkes protected Harry. Throughout the story, Phoenix's mission is to obtain this medicine that will help protect her grandson.

Phoenix's appearance is yet another aspect of her likeness to the phoenix. At the beginning of the story, Phoenix is described as having a "golden color [running] underneath [her skin], and the two knobs of her cheeks were illuminated by a yellow burning under the dark" (Welty, par. 2). Welty further describes Phoenix's hair as being tied back in a "red rag" (Welty, par. 2). These images cannot be taken to be a mere coincident as the phoenix...
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