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Eudora Welty

By Arelu Nov 20, 2014 834 Words

Jourdon Duty
Period 3 pue hrns lit
Eudora Welty essay
Eudora Welty has a past that would still be labeled as successful to this day. She went to the University of Wisconsin and studied business at Columbia University. But her study time has cut short because when her father died her returned back to her hometown in Mississippi. There she became a publicist photographer for the Work Progress Administration (WPA). Because of this job, Welty did a lot of traveling. During her travels Welty started to gain inspiration from her photos and the people she met. She used this inspiration to write stories. One of those stories was “A Worn Path”.

In each of the roadblocks that she encounters, Phoenix Jackson metaphorically confronts the struggles African Americans face. While traveling to town to acquire medicine for her grandson, Phoenix must untangle her dress from a thorny bush. She must climb through a barbed-wire fence. She gets knocked into a ditch by a loose dog. She faces the barrel of a white man's gun. Though these events could have happened to anyone, Welty intends to allude to racism. The hunter would have helped Phoenix to her destination, but didn’t because she is black. The attendant at the health clinic would have addressed her more respectfully than "Speak up, Grandma... Are you deaf?" (Welty 97). And if she was white, she would not be facing these trials alone; someone would have joined her on the journey or simply gone to get the medicine for her. Each of these events, though, represents a larger picture: an unkind racial slur, a separate and run-down restroom, or a hateful stare, humbling a colored person to hang his head in shame. 

Because she is alone, Phoenix must deal with her problems herself. That represents Phoenix's perseverance for her grandson, Welty focuses on the importance of facing racism. The grandson represents the younger generation, the generation worth sacrificing for. Welty recognizes that the path to equality will be hard: "Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far... Something always take a hold of me on this hill? pleads I should stay" (94). Phoenix faces tests like crossing the log above the stream and getting past memories of bulls and two-headed snakes. But in the end, the reader sees just how precious her final destination is. For just as the grandson wrapped up in the patch quilt at home moves Phoenix to journey all the way to town, the taste of equality should motivate black people to persevere through their unfair obstacles. A worthy goal truly justifies struggling through a long journey, and Welty implies that fighting racism is just as important as keeping a suffering grandchild alive. 

In her symbolism, Welty shows cleary exactly why racial equality is so important. African Americans slaves would struggle through each day, wondering if they would still be alive at dusk. Phoenix similarly trembles in fear at the thought of an approaching ghost. "'Ghost,' she said sharply, 'who be you the ghost of? For I have heard of nary death close by'" (95). Slave mothers would likely show the same wary fear as they watched the shadows returning from the fields, asking "Is my child still alive? Will he make it through the night?" And as Phoenix stares down the barrel of the hunter's gun, she surprisingly shows no fear. This courage relates to just how much racism has stretched. A human being would understandably show fear when facing a gun, but to confront danger so nonchalantly simply defies human nature. But after years and years of white people showing themselves as savages, black Americans eventually learned to face savageness head on. They grew to expect it, doing so even today, and learned to say prayers of thanks after simply making it through each day. "'Doesn't the gun scare you?' [the hunter] said, still pointing it. 'No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done'" (97). Through these conflicts in her story, Welty shows racism's nastiness that African Americans must struggle to better their human given status. As Phoenix continues on her journey, despite her odds as an elderly black woman, African Americans must also continue on toward equality. 

The short story "A Worn Path" depicts through both symbolism and perseverance, the obstacles that African Americans face on their path to racial equality. Because she travels as a black woman, Phoenix encounters hurdles that an elderly white woman would likely ease through. Though Phoenix barley comes up with enough will and strength to overcome such adversity, Welty hints to the reader that this woman should not have to face this journey as she did. In relation to determination, Phoenix actually forces the reader to see racism, and to see just how important this struggle for equality is; just as a loving parent would endure through any obstacle for his or her child, so must African Americans persist to attain equality. 

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