A Worn Path Detail of an elderly Negro woman’s journey from deep in the country to town, the while on mission of love. Phoenix Jackson, an elderly Negro women who is frail, old and has many handicaps, she lived during trying times and because of her race, faced many challenges while growing up, Eudora Welty brings the story, “A Worn Path”, to life through the use of the character Phoenix Jackson and symbols. While overcoming challenges her character is born. The story is based on an elderly Negro women’s journey into town for medicine for her grandson. Along the way she encounters physical challenges, obstacles and danger. She climbs hills, crosses streams, crawls under barbed-wire fences; she faces dangers while out in the wilderness and a hunter who threatens her life with a gun.
This happens on a single trip to town. Phoenix is quite remarkable woman. 2 Phoenix’s ability to make the journey and overcome these challenges shows her strong determination, dedication, devotion and the will power to endure hardship to finish her task. These weekly journeys had become a virtual ritual.
Vande Kief t states “Miss Eudora Welty often takes ritual action very seriously-especially the most simple and primitive rituals of home, or private rituals which comes from repeated performances of an action of love”, Old Phoenix’s down the worn Path. (70).
The conflicts were put in the story to show us the inner feelings of Phoenix. She was able to endure hardships and yet stays focused on the task at hand. This tells us while she was growing up she over came many obstacles.
Journey: A course of travel from one place to another. Whether it’s mental or physical, everyone sitting in this class at this present moment will go through a journey at one point in their lives. Journeys can go for a short or long amount of time and may have either a positive or negative outcome, but at the end of the day, journeys change our lives in one way or another. Teacher and fellow ...
Kreyling says, “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, faith would not be possible.” (24).
3 Using nothing more than details of an old Negro woman’s journey to city to get medicine for her grandson, but gives us a sense of human fortitude that is almost unbearable in its’s ad intensity. (Turner, Harding 262).
Using symbols brings color and fullness to the character in the story. This sets the time, place and shows hardships that developed her character. A mythical bird that dies fire and is reborn from the ashes every five hundred years. This is used to describe her life. Phoenix’s family sees her as a symbol of hope, being born into slavery and remaining a slave for eighteen years or more. Slavery was abolished after the war.
We can assume her family was killed during the war, or she just couldn’t locate them. Phoenix Jackson went on to have children. This is evident because of her grandson. Probably her family went north to a better place to start a new life, with out the memories of the hard times. 4 Phoenix Jackson was set in her ways and change was difficult for her. In the story, along the path, she sees old boarded up buildings, barbed – wire fences, and the worn path.
Nancy K. Butterworth stated “Phoenix’s individuality, though, not preclude another, simultaneous, views of her symbolic representative view of her race.” (Johnson 228).
Butterworth wrote, “Welty fiction occurs when Phoenix walks “past cabin, silver with weather, with doors and windows boarded shut, all like old under a spell sitting there,” and she says, ” I walking in their sleep,” Nodding her head vigorously” her strong identification with these “women” (the white woman in town who ties her shoes is termed a “lady” suggest that they are the matriarchs of her own race whose dreams she views herself as proudly carrying on.” (228).
In the nineteenth Century, in the United States of America, there was a distinctive division of the northern states and the southern states. During this time, the North was prospering with New York becoming an important business centre of the world. The North was certainly more industrialised than the South, which was much more agriculturally based. Huge plantations of land were built to harvest ...
According to Butterworth, “viewing Phoenix as an emblem of her people helps explain the symbols. The echoes of slave times can be heard in her chant as she heads up the hill, “seems like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far”, as well as images of confinement and persecution, such as the barbed-wire fence, one-armed black men and the threatening black dog.” 5 These symbolic references could refer specifically to the difficulties encountered by the enslaved black people. (229).
The attempt to develop the character (Phoenix Jackson) was very successful. With the use of conflicts we understood and felt closer to the character. It shows us she was a very determined woman that was devoted to family, spiritual and had hope for the future. Phoenix overcame all the obstacles despite her age and physical state. The conflicts and the symbols allow the reader to identify with the time period and all the atrocities that occurred against black people. The story brought us to a time and place in the south, that people would like to forget but which we are reminded of with the help of writers such as Miss.
Eudora Welty. Bad events need to be remembered so they never happen again.