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Literary Essay Example: A Worn Path by Eudora Welty

4 pages
1089 words
Boston College
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Eudoras A Worn Path recounts the journey of an old woman called Phoenix Jackson who moves on foot from one country to the other in search of a cure for her sick grandson. Her apparent love for the grandchild makes her defy old age to set on a journey of struggles over a long destination with just one motive of getting some medicine for the young boy. As the title of the book denotes, the trip has hurdles, challenges, and hardships but she does not turn away from it. She has her objective and remains consistent with it irrespective of which problem comes her way. In fact, to a greater extent, Phoenix irradiates the resilience of women characters in feminist writings such as Mrs. Mallard in The Story of An Hour written by Kate Chopins. Phoenix endures the challenges of her old age and weak gender to travel over hills, through the woods, overcoming various challenges, encounters with disrespect, and situations of loneliness.

A worn path chronicles the journey of an old woman, Phoenix Jackson as one riddle with a series of difficulties including walking on dusty road, woods and being a victim of disrespect. As the story opens, her journey appears to be replete with frustrations even by the mere fact that it involves an old woman walking on food to an unknown destination. Also, the mission also initially seems to be one in vain and without an apparent reason. Nonetheless, as the story unfolds through the struggles of Phoenix, it becomes clear that her journey is worthwhile hence her resilience. She travels over unbeaten paths, hills, woods, endures various hardships, experiences of disrespect and loneliness but she does not stop her course. Through the struggles and resilience of the woman, the worth of the journey begins to manifest. As the narrative nears its end, the reader succinctly gets an understating of the goal on which the old woman set. Her trip was to fetch medicine for her sick grandson who "swallowed lye"(p. 105).

Phoenixs journey epitomizes two different types of hardships, one that is naturally inflicted by her old age, blindness, and senility. The story demonstrates that Phoenix is aged which implies that she has to contend with the natural health deteriorations that are common with old age. Apparently, with old age, her ability to move freely has significantly been impaired hence can only walk with the assistance of a stuff and very slowly. But in her case, her weakened sense of sight further complicated movement. Welty painstakingly shows the reader that Phoenix was not any ordinary average woman but rather old and with hardships further straining her already deteriorating health. For instance, Welty writes that "Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles" (p. 98).

Apart from her old age, another physical hardship that bedevils Phoenixs journey is the fact that her ability to see is most likely impaired. The authors descriptions show that Phoenix perhaps only sees with difficulty. One thing that shows her poor sight and struggled to move is the fact that "Her eyes were blue with age," and "She carried a thin, small cane made from an umbrella, and with this, she kept tapping the frozen earth in front of her" (p. 98). Since she kept on tapping the earth as she moved along demonstrates that she could not see well hence had to use the stuff to find her way through the tumultuous journey. Ordinarily, an individual who is visually impaired walking in the woods and over a long distance is likely to undergo a series of challenges hence even without looking at other aspects of Phoenixs journey and with the realization that he cannot see well, it is comprehensible that she had to contend with difficulties in walking. Strangely, her love for the grandchild seems to illuminate her sense of sight, and she endures it to her destination.

The trip itself is another burden that Phoenix has to overcome before she gets to her set goal of finding medicine for her sick grandchild. There are many obstacles with which she has to contend. For instance, when she sets out to travel, "It was December - a bright frozen day in the early morning" (p. 98). Nonetheless, she has to endure the cold winter to save the worsening condition of her grandchild. Apart from the weather, her journey also involves navigating through the woods, then to steep hills that greatly impede her movement. In fact in the narrative, as the old woman struggles to climb the hills says " Seems like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far" (p. 99). Despite the weight of the journey and its accompanying challenges, Welty exemplifies that Phoenix endures the pain and hardship. In the narrative, it is evident that even when the trip becomes difficult with hurdles and excruciating pain, Phoenix shows resilience every bit of it. Phoenix also passes through many areas where dark and scary animals live.

Along with her journey, Phoenix also experiences disrespect from different people including the hunter. The hunter is so defiant and disrespectful of Phoenix that he adamantly asks her age. Furthermore, the hunter also lies to the old woman telling her that he would "give [her] a dime if [he] had any money" (p. 103). Nonetheless, Phoenix uses her sense of intuition to decipher that the man is lying. For instance, she picked up a nickel that fell from his purse already. To worsen his sense of disrespect, the hunter returns to Phoenix after running the dog off and points a gun right at her (p. 102). In pointing the gun at her, he behaved as if he could kill the old black woman and get not get apprehended for it.

In conclusion, Phoenixs journey which at the begging seems to have no apparent reason but eventually proves worthwhile is one riddled with a series of challenges. Some of the difficulties are caused by the natural factors such as Phoenixs old age, the hurdles of travel such as moving through a series of hills and in the woods. On the other hand, the disrespect she encounters is human-caused. Despite the enormity of her challenges, Phoenix seems to embody the true love for an ailing grandchild and epitomizes the true spirit of a black woman in the then America who struggled to assert their role in a somewhat oppressive society. At the end of the story, Phoenix stands out as triumphal as she overcomes every challenge, hurdle, and burden to get treatment for her grandson.


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