A Worn Path – Eudora Welty
“A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty recounts the long journey of an elderly woman, Phoenix Jackson. As Phoenix plods along, the reader has no idea of the reason for her trip. However, it can be gathered by Phoenix’s attitude and remarks that this trip is a very important one. She seems very determined to reach her goal. She tells the animals to keep “‘out of [her] way’” (438). She continues to walk uphill, through thorny bushes, across log bridges, and under barbed-wire fences. She is “‘bound to go to town’” (440).
The people Phoenix encounters do not seem to understand the importance of Pheonix’s journey. The hunger declares that it is “‘too far’” (440). He says that when he comes out, he “‘get[s] something for [his] trouble”’ (440), implying that Phoenix will find no compensation. He tells Phoenix to “‘go on home’” (440), thinking that she is just going to see Santa Claus. The nurse views Phoenix’s journey as commonplace, remarking that “‘she makes these trips just as regular as clockwork’” (442).
Phoenix does not regard herself too highly. She often berates herself for her old age. She calls herself “‘old woman’” (440). After she successfully crossed the log bridge, she remarks, “‘I wasn’t as old as I thought’” (438). When she fell in the ditch, she good-naturedly calls herself a “‘June-bug waiting to be turned over’” (440). However, despite her low expectations of herself, she has high expectations regarding how others should view and treat her. She expects acts of kindness from others, due to her old age. She sees a little boy bringing her a plate of marble cake. Once at town, she asks a lady to tie her show, knowing that she would.
Unfortunately, not everyone treats Phoeni...
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...sed about his “performance” (412). It is very ironic that this almost ludicrous statement is really a truth.
This story suggests that life and love in Los Angeles is very superficial. Jake has very superficial dreams and goals. He wants only material comforts. Jake’s interest in Mariana is likewise superficial. At first he was hoping that she was one of those “necklaced ladies in satin gowns” (410) whom he could pick up. But when he found out that Mariana lived with her parents, “she was slipping away from him” (411). When Mariana meets Jake she seems to gradually be won over by his easy manner. She has only met him for a couple minutes, yet she gives him her phone number and asks him to call her. She is willing to trust Jake only after a superficial meeting. Life and love happen so quickly in Los Angeles; it is difficult to form genuine relationships.
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