6 To 7 Page Critical Analysis
The lesson by toni Bambara, the black cat by Edgar allen poe or kate chopins the story of an hour
write a critical analysis on one of these short stories attached is an example of what my professors wants
Dr. Reginald Watson
October 11, 2016
“A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty
Born in Jackson, Mississippi, Eudora Welty (1909-2001) grew up in a family that was close knit and loving. Because her parents were passionate about music, writing and language, Eudora also developed a love for it as well. She excelled academically and professionally from an early age and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 and 1982 for her collection of stories and novel, The Optimist’s Daughter. Welty was a celebrated writer who had a passion for writing about the things she knew and loved. One such thing was life in the South and the people who lived there – “fiction depends for its life on place, and exploring new relationships between natural places and human culture” (Claxton, 2015). In her story, A Worn Path, Welty writes about an old, almost blind, poor, black woman who travels a long distance by foot into town to get medicine for her grandson. The path she travels is worn – having made the trip several times – it is a pilgrimage of love for her grandson. The story is told directly from the main character’s point of view and, through vivid imagery, naturalism and symbolism, Welty masterfully presents a theme of love, struggle, determination and bravery in the face of discrimination. Comment by Reginald Watson: Enclose in quotes. Comment by Reginald Watson: delete Comment by Reginald Watson: Excellent lead-in/thesis.
The author brilliantly opens the story with a vivid picture of the protagonist’s surroundings and a description of what she looked like. “It was December – a bright frozen day in the early morning” (Welty 91). It is with a description of Phoenix Jackson and the conditions in which she was going to make her arduous trip into town that allows the reader to feel the hardship she was going to endure along the way. Welty goes on to describe the way Phoenix Jackson looked, walked and the things that impeded her journey. “She was very old and small and she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, moving a little from side to side…” “Her eyes were blue with age” “Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles…” (Welty 91). One can gather from this description that this woman was small and feeble and that she probably ought not to have gone on such a journey. However, Phoenix’s perseverance was such that she kept on plodding along.
Throughout Phoenix’s journey into town, we can tell that she is struggling, and in many ways, she is being hindered along the way. “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far” “Something always take a hold of me on this hill – pleads I should stay” (Welty 92). She also gets caught on a thorny bush from which she had difficulty setting herself free. Not only do these incidents highlight Phoenix’s struggles, it also highlights the struggles of African Americans at the time the story was published. “A parallel exists between the journey described and the plight of the Southern blacks after the Civil War” “Like Phoenix, they endured an endless struggle…” (Sykes, 1998). In the 1940’s, there was a lot of racial inequality and many Blacks were treated as second class citizens.
Naturalism is evident all throughout the story which assists the reader in appreciating how physically difficult the journey was for Phoenix. She had to go “Up through the pines” “Now down through oaks” (Welty 92) which indicates that her journey on this worn path of life was filled with undulations and challenges. Upon decent of the hill, which should have been the easier part of the journey, she gets caught on a thorny bush from which she had to, carefully, set herself free “I in the thorny bush” “Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush” (Welty 92). Although the bush was a hindrance, she remarked that the bush was doing its appointed work which shows that Phoenix was a kind soul who accepted her circumstances, but also did not let them stand in her way. Comment by Reginald Watson: Good topic sentence.
Welty goes on to vividly describe the landscape and all the challenges it presented to Phoenix as she made her way into town from her remote village in the country side. “Now comes the trial” (Welty 92). Phoenix said as she mounted the log to cross the creek. She also had to creep and crawl “…like a baby trying to climb the steps” (Welty 92) to get under a barb wire fence that stood in her way. As she went along, she remarked that she was happy that the dangerous animals that lived in the woods were asleep or not around because of the time of year. All of this allows a vivid picture of what Ms. Jackson faced every time she made this trip, but she did it out of dutiful love. Comment by Reginald Watson: comma
The symbolism in this story is extremely powerful and is presented to the reader in many ways. Although we are told that Phoenix Jackson is an old, small woman, her name is symbolic of something so much bigger and stronger. The phoenix is a mythological, majestic bird that symbolizes renewal and resurrection. The bird lives for hundreds of years before it dies. After death, it rises gloriously from the ashes and flies away. Phoenix Jackson epitomizes the legendary bird in that she, too, is very old but has the strength to rise above the difficulties of her oppressive life in order to get what she needs. Even after Phoenix is gone, one gets the feeling that her grandson is the next ‘survivor’ in line and he will make it through his hardships. He is the rebirth of the Phoenix. Comment by Reginald Watson: Excellent paragraph!
The trials and difficulty of Phoenix’s journey symbolizes Christianity. Her trip takes place at a significant time – Christmas time – and it is like a pilgrimage of love to save her grandson. Even though it is laden with hardships, exhaustion and danger, she talks to herself and nature, and retains a good spirit of love and kindness. On her way, she encounters a white hunter when she is knocked into a ditch by his dog. Although he helps her up, he still imposes his superiority towards her by talking down to her, calling her Granny, and pointing the gun in her face. “…he laughed and lifted his gun and pointed it at Phoenix” “Doesn’t the gun scare you?” (Welty 94). Just like Christ, holding firm in his belief and used to persecution, Phoenix stood firm in her faith, found strength and said “No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer, in my day, and for less than what I done” (Welty 94). Phoenix then gets the nickel that falls out of the hunter’s pocket – it is like a reward – much like the reward of salvation we received because Christ died on the cross for us.
The title itself – “A Worn Path”, is a symbol of a way that is, and has been, regularly traveled by many who struggle against poverty and prejudice. In this story, Phoenix’s tired, old feet have walked this path so many times, for the love of her grandson, that she almost knows the way by heart. Although the journey is difficult, she perseveres and she has the satisfaction of getting the medicine her grandson needs. The trip itself gives her life purpose, but the day she is unable to make the trek, it will be the end of life’s journey for her.
In A Worn Path, Eudora Welty uses imagery, naturalism and symbolism to show how an old woman, living in a time of racial prejudice, uses the great love she has for her grandson to empower her to make an arduous and perilous journey on his behalf. Although she encounters many trials and obstacles along the way, she faces them all head on, conquers each of them one at a time and chalks it up to being just part of the pilgrimage. She keeps in mind the reason for her journey and, not only accomplishes it; she is even able to get something extraordinary to take home to her grandson. Comment by Reginald Watson: Enclose in quotes.
This story is a short yet powerful testament to the trials and tribulations Blacks had to deal with in that time period and prior. Unfortunately, this is a still a resounding theme in today’s society. Each day, in the news, one can almost guarantee there is a story about some type of injustice inflicted on the black community – it is almost an expectation to which we have grown almost immune. “The chains of slavery trapped African Americans both literally and symbolically into a specific place while European Americans experienced more freedom in their ability to migrate and settle undeveloped areas” (Claxton, 2015). Racism and prejudice have been the theme for many in an underserved community and, for many, the path they walk is not only worn, but it leads to nowhere. If we all would get together as a race of humans, we could alleviate or even eradicate the social injustices imposed upon our brothers and sisters. Comment by Reginald Watson: Great conclusion! Comment by Reginald Watson: comma
Another excellent paper!
Works Cited DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Book. Claxton, Mae Miller. “Migrations And Transformations: Human And Nonhuman Nature In Eudora Welty’s ‘A Worn Path’.” Southern Literary Journal 47.2 (2015): 73-88. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 8 Oct. 2016. Sykes, Dennis J. “Welty’s ‘The Worn Path’.” Explicator 56.3 (1998): 151-153. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 9 Oct. 2016.