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An Eudora Wetlys A Worn Path , which is first published in Atlantic Monthly in

February, 1941, describes the journey of Phoenix Jackson, an elderly African American
woman who lived in the Mississippi, to reach Natchez. Wetly has said that she was inspired
to write the story after seeing the old African-American woman walking alone across the
Southern landscape. The story revolves around an incredibly strong will of Phoenix who
travels all the through the woods and encounters several obstacles to reach the city of
Natchez in order to get the medicine for her beloved grandson who accidentally swallowed
Iye, two years ago. He suffered an obstinate injury which did not fully heal. When world
walked into World War II, Phoenix braved the 290 miles journey along A worn path,
accompanied by love and the sense of responsibility toward her grandson. Upon receiving
the medicine, she declared that he is not dead and persistently, she planned to go on
another trip for the soothing medicine when the time comes around.
Among many other themes in the story, Phoenix Jacksons determination throughout
the story was brilliantly potrayed. The name Phoenix itself is the symbol of determination,
hope and dignity as Wetly described her character so much in common with the golden
mystical bird. The greatest perseverance of the Phoenix is to travel to Heliopolis towards the
end of its life and incredibly its life cycle starts over. It catches fire from the sun, burns into
flames and from the ashes it is reborn, just parallel to Phoenix Jackson who renews her
brittle body on every visit to the doctors office. Towards the end of the story, Wetly exposed
the character of Phoenixs grandson who was the trigger to Phoenix Jacksons
determination quest, in order to acquire the medicine that will help to sooth his pain, who we
can assume, with the least chance of survival. But, the second thought never strike her
mind. During the first part of her journey, from paragraph 3 we can see using the peak of her
old voice, she warned all the foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons, and the big wild hogs
to be out of her way; shows that she actually worried and scared to encounter the wild
animals but carefully proceeded on her feet. I got a long way, she said. Her determination
can also be seen on paragraph 44 and 45, when she met the hunter, a white man who made
a laughing stock out of her will, to get to the town. Now you go on home, Granny! he said
impudently and Phoenix replied that she is bound to go to town; this implies that regardless
of how hard the obstacles she must surpass or how worn the path may be, she would still go
on.
Other theme that can be extracted from story is the subtle racism that blacks received
from the whites. Although it is not mentioned in the story, we can assume that it happened in
1941, as it was published in Atlantic Weekly (1941), the same year as World War II hit the
world. The legal segregation had become more rigid where the white children were taught
they were superior to blacks, while black children were forced to learn the vacillating and

arbitrary customs of Jim Crow. Relatable to the story, there are scenes where we can infer
that the blacks received such a disrespectful treatment from the whites as they act with
superiorities. A scene from the story where the hunter referred Phoenix as I know you old
colored people! Wouldnt miss going to town to see Santa Claus!. He had no regret of being
discourteous using the word old colored to label the other race with prejudice. In addition,
we can also see from paragraph 37 and 75 in the story, the act of racism is highlighted in the
text where Phoenix Jackson was addressed as Granny and Aunt Phoenix by the hunter
and the clinic attendant instead of calling her in more respectful manners, Mrs.Jackson. In
the bigger picture, we can say that Wetly was trying to emphasize on how the dignity of the
Blacks were trampled by the Whites due to the subtle racism.

The main character of A Worn Path is obviously, Phoenix Jackson. According to


Wetly, she describes Phoenix as an old Negro woman with the features, Her skin had a
pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood
in the middle of her forehead, but a golden colour ran underneath, and the two knobs of her
cheeks were illumined by a yellow burning under the dark. which readers can catch on from
the colours, that she might resemble the mythical Egyptian Phoenix bird. Associated with the
myth, Phoenix Jackson is indeed a persistent and stubborn woman who never let the words,
people nor nature to change her decision in any manner. We can see from her action when
she said she was going to complete her journey and she did, overruled the obstacles out of
her way and she thought of the need to assure herself against her fear, instead of backing
off, Sleep on, alligators, and blow your bubbles.- Also, Phoenix Jackson brings out the best
of an optimist woman. In the story we can see that as a grandmother, she is positive with no
disruptive thoughts that perhaps, she will not make it back in time to aid her grandson; No,
missy, he not dead, he just the same.... Phoenix Jackson, is a woman of dignity. We can
see a scene from the story where she stops a white woman on the street and asks her to tie
her shoes as she cannot do it by herself because of her age, Do all right for out in the
country, but wouldnt look right to go in a big building, she says.

Generally, the plots of A Worn Path cover the aspects of expositions, inciting
incidents, complications, climax, falling action and resolution.
Wetly starts off the story with the exposition of Phoenix Jackson, as the protagonist
who appears to be an old, Negro woman walking on a worn path of a long journey, from the
country, early on a cold December morning. In her descriptions, Wetly mentioned about

Phoenixs attire, ... an equally long apron of bleached sugar sacks, with a full pocket:... she
poorly paid attention to, and perhaps she used to be a slave before. So the readers have a
brief view, the type of character Phoenix Jackson carries, which she might be a determine,
loving or brave person. The exposition goes on as Wetly introduces the path Phoenix
Jackson goes through; into the woods, where she prays for the wild animals to be out of her
way, then up a hill, where her remark shows she has been there before, Something always
take a hold of me on this hillpleads I should stay., and she went down through oaks.
Wetly draws in the obstacles that Phoenix has to surpass to continue on her journey,
which challenges her physically and mentally, such as bushes and thorns. She comes upon
a scarecrow in a corn field, which she first thought as a ghost, and she was alarmed for a
moment, before her face lighted, I ought to be shut up for good, she says. Next, come the
dog and the hunter who she receives help from and threaten her with his gun afterwards.
Ironically, the hunter did say, Doesnt the gun scare you?,applying he was just testing her
guts.
However, as readers feel relieved when Phoenix finally arrives at the clinic in Natchez,
this is where Wetly makes a turning point in her story. Phoenix Jackson speaks up about the
reason behind her gruelling journey which is to obtain the medicine for her beloved grandson
who accidently swallowed Iye since two, three years ago and Phoenix has been on her feet
back and forth from Messissippi, biannually.

Wetly make use of literary devices to enhance the characters in the story. From the
story, a passage is written in Metaphor; A bird flew by. Her lips moved. God watching me
the whole time. I come to stealing. which Wetly compares a bird to the watchfulness of God.
Next is,the use of simile; The track crossed a swarmpy part where the moss hung as white
as lace from every limb, illustrating the word as to compare the moss to lace. Wetly also
includes terms and symbols in her writing, obviously potrayed through the word choice,
bobwhite, big dead trees, Phoenix and mistletoe, where mistletoe, an evergreen plant with
poisonous berries might be a symbol of attitude of whites towards blacks.

This is story is told from a third-person point of view, so the readers are able to relate
and emphathize with Phoenix as Wetly makes her thoughts and actions readable. Overall,
the language style is understandable and notice that Wetly prefers to let the readers
imaginations run wild and they are let to believe in what they wanted to, for example, Is
Phoenixs grandson still alive?. Even in her interview, Welty gives no answer to that.

Personally, I would like to conclude that A Worn Path, is potrayed as a piece of effort
to hit the consciousness of those who act with condescension (the Whites), because
eventhough the gist of the story was a bit out of shape with the current situation back then,
there were still believers who care about matters evolve around them and published the
story. It is a tale to be told to the community whom have forgotten the root of humanism in
living and it is a call back for the overshadowed society (the Blacks), to return to the clan so
as to reclaim their rights, prosperity and dignity that has been trampled into smithers. On top
of all, Edora is a white writer and yet she wrote the truth without prejudice nor calumny.