The Worn Path by Eudora Welty is a narrative of an elderly African American woman named Phoenix Jackson who takes a long tiring walk to Natchez. The story portrays unconditional love by applying characters as well as setting settings that adds up to the theme. Phoenix is elderly, poor sighted and weak. She takes through a path she is familiar with, to looks for medication for her only grandson who had previously ingested lye and fell sick. Phoenix pursued everything within her reach to ensure that her only grandson alive is saved. The short story applies various settings, which depicts the social interactions of the characters in the narrative hence revealing their stances in the society.
The short story has a settling that depicts the struggles of the old woman in search of the medication as he walks up and about in a winter morning, through a fence of barbed wire, where she had to crawl through and when she had to cross a marshy area along the path. She also encounters a wild dog, which frighten her making her to fall down into a ditch as she commands it to get out of her way. Besides, she encounters a white man on the way, who is hunting for pleasure and who saves her from the dog. Meanwhile, she attempts to take his nickel but the man scares her with gun, an aspect that helps the reader to appreciate the social differences between the two people who belong to different racial backgrounds. She overcomes all these problems since she is driven by the love for her grandson. The setting of the story depicts the toughness of the trip and the way of life in the American south during the great depression. The gap between the rich and the poor is so manifest as the poor as represented by Phoenix have undivided devotion for humanity while the rich, as represented by the white hunter underscores such values.
The elderly woman is comparable to a particular mythical legend of ancient Egyptian bird named Phoenix, which overcame all obstacles for its rebirth. Likewise, the woman is able to go beyond her problems in every trip as she encounters a new challenge each time. Due to her age, she has difficulties while walking across the woods, a journey she goes through due to her determination. Phoenix is black impoverished and degraded by the society due to being treated unfairly. She bears a nickel which constantly reminds her of her social deprivation. The reader is able to see her social status since she clings to the nickels as a treasure. The verbal exchanges allow the reader to be in the right mood of the story and help them to have their own interpretation of the story.
Nature is portrayed as being stunning, yet its beauty destructs Phoenix’s journey since her eyesight is poor, she is weak due to her age. However, she is able to overcome and continues with her journey. In the city, she enters the hospital where she is questioned by the nurse of her sick grandson with a presumption that he is already dead. This hurts her emotions and she forgets the reason for making the tiresome journey. She describes the situation of her grandson insisting he did not die irrespective of the harm from the lye. She is given the medication and obtains another nickel that she uses to buy a little windmill for his grandson as a present. This aspect shows that even the racially marginalized people can be materialistic just like the privileged whites who dominate the society. These scenarios underwent by Phoenix symbolizes perseverance and depicts a spirit of self-sacrifice as the reader perceives them as such.
Phoenix faces a psychological turmoil of racial inequalities where whites do not understand what she has gone through and therefore, looks down on her. For instance, the white hunter ironically states that she has walked all the way to town to see Santa Claus. The nurse on the other hand, dismisses Phoenix for charity and is not touched by the ailing grandson since she rushes her displeasingly. The journey she undertakes is a familiar one as she airs her thoughts on the natural objects in a monologue. She warns the wild animals to get out of her way and to complain when her weary bones ache. She has psychological imagery as she imagines her grandson offering her a portion of marble cake and complains of being old, which helps the reader to see her psychological state that might be as a result of the social distress she has faced.
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