A Worn Path Critical Analysis Essay
A Worn Path Critical Analysis
“How old are you Granny? ” he was saying. “There is no telling mister,” she said, “no telling. ” “Well, Granny,” he said, “You must be a hundred years old and scared of nothing (216-217). ” Granny is an old woman; described as “being so old that her skin was as if she had a tree in the middle of her forehead with numberless branching wrinkles (213). ” Phoenix Jackson is her name. She is an African American woman, very old, withered and frail.
Phoenix is the protagonist in Eudora Welty’s story “A Worn Path. Throughout time, people have gone on their own journeys, traveling rocky roads, climbing mountains while overcoming obstacles along the way; while grasping on to hope to strengthen each step they take. This short story begins in southern Mississippi, likely in the early 1900’s. It is a cold December morning, the earth still frozen; and once again Phoenix will begin her long journey through the thick pine woods. Despite the odds that are against her, Phoenix’s determination and undying love for her grandson will carry her the many miles she has to travel. What are the odds that are against Phoenix?
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What obstacles does Phoenix have to overcome? What is her destination? The greatest odd that stands against Phoenix is her age. She is very old and tired. On her journey she must walk over a hill, when she reaches the top she says, “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far (214). ” Despite her age, Phoenix still exists, because she has a purpose. She is able to conquer all because of the love she has for her grandson. Phoenix knows that it is up to her to walk to town to retrieve the medicine he needs to live. She is all he has, he depends on her.
The strength she receives Lewis2 feeds off of the love she has for him. Phoenix endured many obstacles on her journey to town. One of the biggest obstacles she has to overcome is a wild dog. The wild dog appears and causes Phoenix to fall down. She is not able to get up, so she talks to herself, “That black dog comes up out of those woods to stall you off (216). ” She is telling herself this because it helps her to be strong as if she is thinking your not going to let this dog deter you, are you? Now, along comes the second obstacle. A hunter appears with his dog. He is a white man.
Even though he is a God send and saves her; he is a racist and bully. He tells her she needs to go home where she will be safe. She tells him no! She is on her way to town, and she is not stopping until she gets there. Then he tries to intimidate Phoenix by pointing a gun right in her face and asking her if it scares her with an arrogant smirk on his face. She stands up to him, stares him straight in the eyes and tells him she is not scared of it or him and has seen many guns in worse situations. During this time he drops a nickel; Phoenix sneakily picks it up and puts it in her pocket.
As he walks away she says to herself, “God watching me the whole time. I come to stealing (217). ” Even though she knows stealing is wrong, she feels that God will pardon her and this time it is justifiable due to the humiliation he put her through. Once again for the sake of her grandson she finds the inner strength she needs to continue on. She finally arrives to the town of Natchez and went straight to the Dr. ’s office. She was so tired now that she was depending solely on her feet to guide her and take her up the flights of stairs that stood before her and to the correct office; where she faces yet
Lewis3 another obstacle. Now, standing in the office, when the receptionist asks for her name, her mind goes blank. The receptionist starts making racial slurs, “A charity case I suppose (218). ” It wasn’t until the nurse who knew Phoenix came out and refreshed her memory that she finally remembered why she was there. She is overwhelmed by guilt, wondering how she could forget her grandson, her life, her purpose. She begins reflecting her life as if she is trying to find a justifiable reason for forgetting about him.
She blames this on the fact that she is uneducated. She makes a vow with herself never to forget her grandson again. The receptionist who seemed very cold in the beginning now finds within herself compassion towards Phoenix and offers to give her a few pennies. Even though Phoenix is uneducated she lets her know five pennies make a nickel, with that, the receptionist gives her a nickel. Phoenix is happy, she now knows that the nickel along with the nickel she took from the hunter is enough money to buy her grandson a Christmas present.
This replenishes her soul and spirit to begin her long journey on the path back home. For whatever reason, Phoenix is the only one in the world her grandson has to care for him. This is her purpose in life. She has traveled down this path at least two or three years to get his medicine. She also knows that when she leaves him, he is all by himself until she returns. There is nothing a good grandmother would not do for the sake of her grandchild. This is enough purpose to give Phoenix the endurance she needs to go on. This story shows us that love can conquer all things.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 January 2017
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