A Worn Path

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Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path” is a story that emphasizes the natural symbolism of the surroundings. The main character in the story, Phoenix Jackson, is an old black woman who seeks out to find medicine for her sick nephew. This story contains a motif, which is the continuous walking of Phoenix Jackson throughout her journey. She lives in the pinewoods and faces the challenging experience of walking through the snowy, frozen earth to get to the hospital in the city of Natchez. Phoenix Jackson is a very caring person, and is in love with life. Although she is very old, it seems that she has many years ahead of her. Eudora Welty brings realism into the story describing the realities of being old. It is Christmas, and Phoenix Jackson has to head out to the city to obtain the medicine for her nephew. A long time ago, her nephew swallowed lye that burned his throat, and the medicine is the only thing that relieves his pain. The woods are filled with pine trees that cast dark shadows throughout the terrain. The darkness that surrounds Phoenix is the total opposite of her. She is a poor woman, but is very neat and tidy. She appreciates her the small things in life and respects what she has. Although she is old, she has extremely dark hair, wears a red bandana, and has much “life” within her: Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead, but a golden color Guarino 2

ran underneath, and the two knobs of her cheeks were illumined by a yellow burning under the bark. (87) It is almost as if she is a part of nature herself, when Eudora Welty describes her as having a tree within her forehead. She is a very lively person, and is willing to go through this obstacle course of vicissitudes of the cold earth: “Under the red rag her hair came down on her neck in the frailest of ringlets, still black, and with an odor like...
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