In the 1940s a common theme in most stories written was racism.
There is no exception here with the short stories "Battle Royal" by Ralph Ellison and "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty. These stories were written in the times when racism was a huge problem. Both these authors take the issue head on and really rub our faces in the truth. Along with the theme of racism, the stories tell us that a person who feels love towards someone or something will have a purpose in life and will strive to overcome any obstacle along the way. The themes in both Welty and Ellison's are racism and the ability to overcome anything if you believe in it enough.
In each of the roadblocks that she encounters, the protagonist Phoenix Jackson in Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" metaphorically confronts the underlying 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, were she white, to her destination. The attendant at the health clinic would have addressed her more respectfully than, "Speak up, Grandma... Are you deaf?" (Welty 169). And were she 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.
Instead of being accompanied on the road, as an elderly person deserves, Phoenix must deal with her problems herself. In depicting Phoenix's determination for her grandson, Welty demonstrates the importance of combating 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......
Cited: Ellison, Ralph. "Battle Royal." Barnet, Burto, Cain 483-492
Welty, Eudora. "A Worn Path." Barnet, Burto, Cain 165-171
Sylvan Barnet, William Burto, William E. Cain. Introduction to Literature. 14th ed. New York: Terry, 2006.
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