ENG 102 Short Fiction Draft
“A Worn Path”
The story “A Worn Path” was written by Eudora Welty. It is a very interesting story of fiction
that is full of symbolism. I chose this story because it was very simple in tone, and with all of the
details written, it was easy to picture in my head. The story is basically about an old elderly woman
named Phoenix Jackson who walks a long journey alone on a cold winter morning, from her home to
the city of Natchez. She is determined to make this trip, although she faces many obstacles along the
way, and is even patronized by a White hunter. She is a tough old woman, who doesn't give up easily,
but struggles with the effects of old age. When she reaches her destination, she doesn't remember why
she came in the first place until the nurse there asked about her son. You learn in the end that she
makes this journey often to pick up some medicine for her sick grandson, who she does this for
regularly when he runs out.
There are a few themes in this story, but the main ones that stuck out were love, perseverance,
and selflessness. There was a lot of symbolism in this story that showed the qualities the old woman
had, and also showed the things she faced and had to go through. My interpretation of this story was
that it was about showing perseverance to face the difficult obstacles and hardships that we need to go
through in life. It also showed the meaning of sacrificing things for the people you love. The old
woman would not let anything get in her way of bringing her grandson some medicine to protect him.
There was some racial prejudice in this story too, with the White hunter who showed up along her path
and the nurse at the hospital. Phoenix must deal with a sick child, racism, and being elderly on a daily
basis, yet she still makes this journey for her son, still has hope, and is still vibrant for her age. Other
themes in this story referred to religion and redemption, but those were very brief parts of the story.
The symbolism in this story is first recognized by the name of the main character Phoenix
Jackson. The myth of the phoenix is that it is a magical majestic bird that has amazing powers. The bird
is believed to have the power of determination, healing, and to appear and disappear. The most amazing
things about a phoenix bird is that it lives for 500 years, which represents Phoenix’s old age. When it
dies, the bird bursts into flames, and is reborn from it's ashes. To do that it travels to a city called
Heliopolis, which would refer to how the old woman traveled all the way to Natchez to protect her son.
When she arrived at the city, she became reborn after she remembered why she had come such a long
way. When you think of this bird you think of something that protects, and gives you hope. The old
woman is a symbol of this bird because she displays these traits in her behaviors in the story. The way
her appearance was described in the book also symbolized the resemblance of a phoenix. She was
described wearing an old red rag, and has a golden color that ran underneath her skin. Her cheeks were
illuminated with yellow burning under the dark, and her eyes blue with age. She also carried an old
cane, which she repeatedly tapped on the frozen ground that made a chirping noise resembling a bird.
Also, the way that Phoenix was described with her skin having a pattern all its own, of
numberless branching wrinkles, symbolizes that she is one with nature. It was described as if there
were a whole little tree that stood in the middle of her forehead. She even spoke to the animals along
her way, while talking to herself as an old person does. I think this symbolizes how much life there still
was in Old Phoenix despite her age. She she still has a long life ahead of her, and that she will
persevere till the end, and