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A Worn Path: Theme

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  • November 2011
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A WORN PATH: Theme
A Worn Path is a short story about an old African−American woman, Phoenix Jackson, and her journey through the woods into town. It is a fiction story set in Mississippi during the 1940s. The author presents the themes of the story from the symbol of the journey itself as well as all the obstacles and encounters the main character faces throughout her journey. There are several themes that have been portrayed in the story. The main theme that I have noticed during my reading is racism. Other minor themes are responsibility, love, guilt and resurrection. Racism was portrayed by the author through Phoenix's brief encounters on her journey with the Southern whites. A white hunter helps her out of a ditch but patronizes her and belittles the purpose of her journey by laughing and saying "I know you old colored people! Wouldn't miss going to town to see Santa Claus!" (117). He also bullies her by pointing his loaded gun at her and asking, "Doesn't the gun scare you?" (117). Through these conversations, the author shows how some whites regarded blacks. Another way that the author depicts the relationships between the two races is in the way the hunter calls her "Granny,'' or the nurse calls her "aunt" which were terms commonly used for older African−American women by whites. I learnt that during that time, whites would often call older blacks "Aunt," "Granny," or "Uncle" as a way of denying them their dignity which in turn demonstrates the subtle persecutions that blacks suffered in a white community. Also according to my understanding, another theme that the author wanted to illustrate is the sense of love and responsibility Phoenix Jackson had toward her grandson. The sentiment was mainly due to the fact that she is the only person her grandson has to rely on. That was made clear when Phoenix tells the nurse, "We is the only two left in the world" (117), and thus she is determined to make it to town to obtain the medicine that will relive his...