The Theme of “A Worn Path”

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The Theme of “A Worn Path” Charlotte Schroeder Ashford University 03/04/2013 ENG 125 Instructor Abby Forster In the short story “A Worn Path”, the author Eudora Welty, created a strong theme of undying love with an old woman and her grandson. The main character in this story is called Phoenix; she is an old woman that is narrated from the author trying to make a long journey down a worn path to bring her sick grandson medicine. She will not let anything get in her way from completing her mission and will not give up even though she is not a young puppy anymore.
She is the last living relative to her young grandson and she keeps strong to fulfill his needs and keep him happy. The author uses great symbolism in the short story throughout the entire story. Religion, racism, and true love all play a key role in the theme of “A Worn Path”; it has strong literary elements that take this story to higher limits. The story does not tell us where the mother is, however shows us how strong Phoenix is in her journey with characters making us know how bad racism is and how God is strong with her in her mission.
Anyone that has children would not stop at anything to save them; Phoenix’s journey down a worn path proves it. This story is about a grandmother, Phoenix, walking through treacherous woods to get some medicine for her grandson that is sick that may or may not help him. The story is told in the third-person, “Third-person point of view which occurs when the speaker is not a participant in the story. It has two forms: omniscient point of view and objective point of view. ” (Cited in Clugston, 2010) The author uses a narrative approach with the main character; it shows her thoughts and feelings throughout the entire story.



She speaks to herself with a single purpose, devotion to her grandson in the doctor’s clinic. She must get to him at no cost since she is poor. The story’s theme is about undying love for a grandmother and grandson; it explains her struggles against aging since she has walked this path since the civil war. The narrative story expresses a lot of symbolic characters, first it starts with the name Phoenix which stands for the mythical creature that rises from its own ashes. “The use of symbolic characters throughout the story is explained.
The author provides a critical interpretation and offers different meaning behind several elements. ” (Cited in Clugston, 2010) Phoenix is faced with getting old and losing her mind, she is very afraid of it, but still carries on with the strength of God with her. Religion plays a key role to keeping her mind and strength strong and even beat racism with the characters she met along the way and interacts with. It starts with a cold month in December for the setting that makes you feel compassion for the main character and brings a thought of stagnation and sleeep.
The story’s author sets a picture in your head first, “The setting is rural, a cold, early morning in December in the South. ” (Cited in Clugston, 2010) The main character is a Negro woman that is an old lady and has been through many life situations. The story uses settings to establish many points for the theme and details of wagon tracks used to tell us she is following a familiar path. “On she went. The woods were deep and still. The sun made the pine needles almost too bright to look at, up where the wind rocked. The cones dropped as light as feathers.
Down in the hollow was morning dove- it was not too late for him. ” )Cited in Clugston, 2010, “A Worn Path”, para. 3) This is the “easy part” of her new journey since she will face a hunter and a nurse along the way. She meets a white hunter with a dog; they represent external conflicts that she must deal with. The hunter helps her out of a ditch that she has fallen in, however irony is used since he puts a gun in her face that also resembles racism. She compares her bones to weeds springy enough not to have been broken by the fall into the ditch.
The hunter speaks down to her since he thinks she is a crazy old black woman trying to go see Santa Clause for presents. She finds a nickel in her pocket, “God watching me the whole time. I come to stealing,” she knows that she must keep going with god’s help. However, she does not let this get her down since religion played a big role in her life and she has encountered much worse. Next, the author tells how Phoenix is feeling, “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far”, this symbolizes chains are like a struggle for her. Cited in Clugston, 2010, “A Worn Path” para. 10) She is faced with buzzards that symbolize death for her and oak trees that symbolize strength and wisdom since she was strong with life still. “She passed through the old cotton and went into a field of dead corn”, this showed how devoted her love was to pass through death defying places. (Cited in Clugston, 2010) Also, when she drank water, “In a ravine she went where a spring was silently flowing through a hollow log. Old Phoenix bent back and drank”, it symbolized a source of life and regeneration. Cited in Clugston, 2010, “A Worn Path” para. 14) All of these literary elements contributed to the short story and theme. When Phoenix arrives in the city she sees Christmas lights that are red, green, and silver that look like presents, which made religion come to play again. She encounters a nurse when she arrives finally to the doctor’s clinic. The nurse thinks that she is very poor and gives her another nickel to help her. All Phoenix wants is to see her grandson happy so she takes the two nickels and buys him a pinwheel to make him smile.
Besides the medicine she has for him, she wanted to make him know he was loved and wanted to give a present. In the end the author made me feel the undying love that a grandmother can have for her grandson. She took a hard path in spite of her old age to make her grandson get what he needed, medicine, and a smile. Her journey faced racism, religion, and death that she overcame with the love she had in her soul, it would not die even if she got hurt. The medicine did not work in the past for her sick grandson, however she thought it might help to cure him with love.
Everyone that has experienced a mother’s love or grandmother’s would know that they will not stop for anything to give their undying love. References A Worn Path, Edora Welty-Introduction. Critism. ED. Anna J. Sheets. Vol. 27 April, 2012 Retrieved from: http://www. enotes. com/worn-path-critcism/worn-path Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. Retrieved from: https://content. ashford. edu Lappin, A. Studia Neophilologic June, 2012, Vol. 84 Issue 1, p33Retrieved from: http://www. ashford. edu/ehost/books

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