Eudora Welty brings the story, “A Worn Path”, to life through the use of the character Phoenix Jackson and symbols. This story detail’s an elderly Negro woman’s journey to town, on a mission of love. Phoenix Jackson, an elderly Negro women is frail, old, and had many handicaps, she lived during trying times, because of her race, and faced many challenges while growing up.
The story is based on an elderly Negro women’s journey into town to get medicine for her sick grandson. Along the way she encounters physical challenges, obstacles and encounters danger. She climbed hills, crossed streams, crawled under barbed-wire fences, she faced dangers while out in the wilderness and a hunter who threatens her life with a gun. Phoenix’s ability to make the journey and overcome these challenges shows the dedication, devotion and the will power to endure hardship to finish her task. She made this journey weekly almost like a ritual. “Miss Eudora Welty often takes ritual action very seriously-especially the most simple and primitive rituals of home, or private one that comes from repeated performance of an action of love’,(Old Phoenix’s down the worn Path).(Vande Kieft 70)
I believe the conflicts were put in the story to show us the inner feeling of Phoenix. She was able to endure hardships and stay focused on the task at hand. This tells us while she was growing up she over came many obstacles. Usually Welty reserved for her black characters the functions of this vital, sure and faithful, ways of living of which modern man has either lost or denied. Phoenix Jackson represents the condition of the human race before “enfeebling” layers of civilization anesthetized it. Although primitive, Phoenix is centered in and directed toward the value of life, the path worn by habit of hope. She possesses that vitality without which, Krutch says, Faith would not be possible. (Turner,...
Cited: Ruth M. Vande Kieft Eudora Welty
Queens College (1962)
W.Craig Turner, Lee Emling Harding
Critical Essays Eudora Welty (1989)
Carol Ann Johnson “Eudora Welty A Study of Short Fiction” (1997)
“The Critics” Nancy K. Butterworth 225-234
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