28 February 2013
A Worn Path by Eudora Welty
Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" is a story that emphasizes different symbolisms throughtout character Pheonix Jacksons life and surroundings. As the story begins, our main character, Phoenix Jackson is described as a small, old Black woman of the south. Phoenix can hardly walk and must use a cane made of an old umbrella to aid her along her way. Her skin is described as dry, old and wrinkly, but yet Eudora Welty describes it best "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 ran underneath"(Welty 55). Most likely this journey along a worn path through the woods will be one of her last. We are told of Phoenix's journey into the woods on a cold December morning. Although it is unknown why she is traveling through the harsh cold woodland, the author refrains from telling us the reason for this journey. In the midst of Phoenix's travels, Eudora Welty describes the scene: "Deep, deep the road went down between the high green-colored banks. Overhead the live-oaks met, and it was as dark as a cave" (Welty 55). The gloomy darkness that the author has created to surround Phoenix in this scene is quite a contrast to the small black woman's positive outlook; Phoenix is a very determined person who is full of life even at a much older age. As Phoenix begins to walk down the dark path, a black dog approaches her from the side of her path near a ditch. As he comes toward her, Phoenix gets startled and feels it necessary to defend herself: "she only hit him a little with her cane. Over she went in the ditch, like a little puff of milk-weed" (Welty 55). Here, the author contrasts the main character's strong will with her petite, frail physique. As Phoenix is lying in the ditch,slowly coming back to her senses "A dream visited her, and she reached her hand up, but nothing reached down and gave her a pull." (55). Phoenix may be reaching for some kind of divine intervention but nothing reaches back for her to help. She begins to talk to herself, which she does quite often throughout her journey. In my opinion Eudora is trying to show the reader just how lonely and frightened Phoenix has become. While she lay in the ditch talking to herself, Phoenix refers to herself as an "old woman." At a number of points throughout the story, Phoenix refers to herself as old. Although we are reminded regularly of her old age, it is clear that Phoenix still has many years ahead of her.
The author brings into light the realistic life situations frequently how an elderly person might surcome to their harsh conditions when there is very often little to no help. After a short while, Phoenix is surprisingly rescued: "A white man finally came along and found her, a hunter, a young man with his dog on a chain" (56). When the white man approaches her, Phoenix is still laying on her back in the ditch. When Welty tells the reader that the white man has "found" her, she is implying that Phoenix is lost, but she very clearly is not. The white man asks Phoenix what she is doing in the ditch, and she replies "Lying on my back like a June-bug waiting to be turned over, mister" (56) as she reaches out her hand. When Phoenix refers to herself as June-bug on its back, she is letting the hunter know how helpless she is. The hunter then lifts her up and makes sure she is okay. The hunter and Phoenix begin to chat and the hunter asks her if she is on her way home. When Phoenix replies that she is on her way to town, the hunter discourages her by telling her that it is too far. He also tells her that when he makes the journey into town, he at least could "get something for my trouble" (56). The hunter has assumed that Phoenix has no reason for going into town, and no money to purchase anything. Phoenix shows her determination by telling the hunter "I bound to go to