Essay on A Worn Path

Essay on A Worn Path

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"Phoenix Jackson: Mind Over Matter" Novelist Eudora Welty is often studied and adored by many readers; her much deserved recognition comes from her brilliant, deeply compassionate, and lively stories and novels (Ford 36). Like many of her stories, Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" is set in Mississippi. In "A Worn Path," Welty focuses on an old woman's journey to Natchez and on the many obstacles that she encounters along the way. Phoenix is going to town to get medication for her beloved grandson. But he trip is difficult because nature and her handicaps are making it hard for her to reach her destination. Nevertheless, the old woman boldly continues along the equally old path, struggling every step of the way. Even though Phoenix faces a number of obstacles, she reaches her destination and triumphs over her physical handicaps and over nature's barriers by relying on her inner strengths. Although Phoenix is nearly blind, she does not let her failing eyesight keep her from reaching her destination; she relies on her feet to take her where she needs to go. "Old Phoenix would have been lost had she not distrusted her eyesight and depended on her feet to know where to take her (162)." The ragged old woman inches her feet forward with the aid of a makeshift cane, dragging her untied shoelaces along the icy road. Phoenix's feet carry her to the top of the hill and then carefully guide her down the hill. But her eyes fail her as she nears the bottom of the hill and her dress gets snagged in a thorn bush. "Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush (159)." She carefully frees herself and continues along the path.

When Phoenix nears a fallen tree that lays over the creek, she closes her eyes and lets her feet guide her across it. Her feet take her across the fields and lead her out of the swamp and through the maze. As she makes her way through the corn field, she stumbles across a tall, dark figure. "Ghost," she said sharply, "who be you the ghost of? For I have heard of nary death close by (160)." Her eyesight tricks her into believing that it is a ghost, or perhaps, the Grim Reaper that has come to take her away. When Phoenix gets no response from the "ghost," she bravely touches the figure and realizes that it is only a scarecrow. The relieved woman kicks up her dependable feet and dances with him. Phoenix acknowledges that it ...


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...ct of love and compassion is primary to the story: the deep-grained habit of love (CLC 419)." Indeed, Phoenix's love for her only living relative is her greatest strength of all. Although the ragged old woman suffers from many handicaps, she starts her journey mentally prepared for the obstacles awaiting her. Phoenix summons her inner strengths and prevails over every barrier. She relies on her trustworthy feet to make up for her impaired vision. Her wit makes up for her frail body.

Her determination makes up for her aged memory. But most of all, her love for her grandson her keeps her going. Clearly, the frail, forgetful, stubborn and loving old woman can overcome anything. Works Cited Ford, Richard. "Bonhomie For A Southern Belletrist." New Yorker 19 Feb. 1996: 36. Phillips, Robert L. Jr. Contemporary Literary Criticism: Eudora Welty. vol. 33. ed. Daniel G Marowski. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985. 419. Vande Kieft, Ruth. Dictionary of Literary Biography: Eudora Welty. vol. 2. ed. Jeffrey Helterman. Michigan: Gale Research, 1978. 524-526. Welty, Eudora. "A Worn Path." Literature for Composition. 4th ed. Ed. Sylvan Barnet et al. New York: HarperCollins, 1996. 158-164.

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