A Worn Path"

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate July 2001

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"A Worn Path"� by Eudora Welty is the story of a grandmother's love for her grandchild. The very name of the protagonist, Phoenix, a mythological bird that rose from the ashes, is an indication that the tale is really about resurrection. Phoenix never knows if her grandson is still alive, but hope and love lead her through her journey to town to find medicine for her grandson. Phoenix faces several obstacles along the way. Love and sheer determination prevails over old age and all obstacles and risks that come in her way.

Embarking on an arduous journey is a major obstacle for anyone especially someone as old as Phoenix Jackson. Phoenix Jackson is "very old and small,"� and "walks like a pendulum in a grandfather clock"� (507). She uses a "thin, small cane made from an umbrella"� (507). Yet she is determined to travel down the worn path to reach town.

The worn path is a metaphor that symbolizes life with its ups and downs.

The very beginning of the journey gives us a glimpse of how challenging this trip will be for an old lady like Phoenix Jackson. She embarks on her journey "on a bright frozen day in the early morning"� in December (507). She goes through woods and then faces an uphill climb through pines followed by a downhill path through oaks. Her dress gets caught in a thorny bush. Phoenix also manages to walk across a log with her eyes shut, a clear indication of her courage and conviction. She survives a barbed wire fence unscathed and sees a scarecrow that momentarily brings happiness. All these accomplishments symbolize the various harsh realities and hurdles a person faces throughout his or her life.

In addition to these natural obstacles, Phoenix also encounters perils in human...