A Worn Path: Obstacles

Topics: Eudora Welty, A Worn Path, Old age Pages: 5 (2213 words) Published: June 12, 2002
In the short stories A Worn Path by Eudora Welty and The Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter, both women overcame several obstacles. In A Worn Path Phoenix Jackson faced obstacles such as her old age, physical challenges, and how others viewed her. Granny faced obstacles such as dying, feeling betrayed from her children, and disappointment in her love life. In A Worn Path by Eudora Welty an elderly African American woman named Phoenix Jackson picks a cold December day to make yet another perilous journey to a near by city to get medicine for her ailing grandson. On the way this old woman faces many obstacles, both natural and man-made. Phoenix draws upon her perseverance and willingness to sacrifice herself to help her throughout her journey, but it is the undying love for her grandson that truly guides and drives her to her final goal. She is described as being a very old woman. "Her eyes were blue with age. 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 run underneath, and the two knobs of her cheeks were illuminated by a yellow burning under the dark (Welty 386). These all show an indication of her old age. Also, her loss of memory indicates her old age. It was only until Phoenix reached the doctor's office she remembered why she went on her journey. "My grandson. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my trip"(Welty 394). Another character in the story was a white man who was a hunter. When Phoenix falls in the ditch, he helps her out of the ditch. Even though the hunter helps Phoenix, he still poses as a threat to her, because it seems he did not want her to finish her journey. This is made apparent when he states, "Why, that's too far! That's as far as I walk when I come out myself, and I get something for my trouble"(Welty 391). In addition, like her name, Phoenix seems ageless. When she stops to drink water from the spring she says, "Nobody know who made this well, for it was here when I was born"(Welty 391). When she encounters the hunter and he asks her how old she is she says, "There is no telling, mister, "said, "no telling" (Welty 392). Again her age is emphasized when she goes to the doctor's office and the nurse ask her why she never went to school. "I never did go to school, I was too old at the Surrender" (Welty 394). Phoenix also faced physical obstacles on her Journey. Phoenix is a very old woman whose aged, fragile body isn't suited to make such a long journey. At one point when she is climbing up a hill, she states that it seems like "there is chains about my feet, time I get this far." And yet she still trudges onward, stopping only once for a short break. On the way down the hill she gets caught in a bush, its thorns tearing at her finest dress. "I in a thorny bush," she exclaims. But she doesn't give up; she stands there untangling herself from the bush, "her fingers busy and intent." After she has overcome this obstacle she faces yet another trial. Across Phoenix's path lies a creek and across the creek lies a log, which substitutes as a bridge. It is hard enough for Phoenix to walk on flat and stable ground, so walking across the log is a dangerous challenge for her. Even though there is a large threat of her falling and badly hurting herself, "she mounted the log and shut her eyes" and crosses to the other side. Next she comes across a barbwire fence, and once again without showing any signs of fear she fords ahead crossing that too. Phoenix travels a good portion of the day facing many physical challenges that test her stamina, but the real trials are the physiological ones that she faces as she encounters people along her journey. Last but not least, Phoenix overcame obstacles involving the people she encountered. The first person that she meets is a hunter. In the beginning he seems like a benevolent character...

Cited: Page
Bartel, Roland. "Life and Death in Eudora Welty 's "A Worn Path. '" USA: Harcourt Brace and Company, 1998. 45-48
Kirsznerand and Mandell, Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Earl McPeek. USA: Harcout, Inc., 2001, 1997,1994,1991. 388-395
Porter, Katherine Anne. "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall." Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Fort Worth: Harcourt, 2000.
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