A Worn Path Essay, Research Paper
EnglishConflict in Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path”In Eudora Welty s “A Worn Path” the conflict was not apparent at thevery beginning. What was a poor, elderly sick woman doing gallivantingin the forest during the dead of winter? The reason became clear towardsthe conclusion of the story as the action revealed that the conflict wasobtaining the necessary medicine for her grandson. When this conflictbecame obvious, another question came to mind. What kind of society didthis woman live in that she had to go all the way from her home in thecountryside to the city by herself to get the medicine? The conflictbeing illustrated is that of an individual versus society and the fourproblems that Phoenix faces as a result of this was her old age, herhealth, her grandson s health and her state of poverty. “Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin had a pattern all its own ofnumberless branching wrinkles ” (paragraph 2). This quotation was one of many indications of Phoenix Jackson s oldage. Normally, in society there are benefits for the elderly and thoseof the golden age. There are various organizations that help people whoare over the age of sixty-five. They also provide various servicestowards them such as meals on wheels. Was there not someone who couldhave delivered the medicine to this woman of nearly 100 years of age?Perhaps Phoenix Jackson was too shy or had too much pride to ask for aservice of that nature. The doctors from the medical building knew aboutthe condition of Phoenix s grandson and did nothing to try and help. This showed the lack of respect that was present in the society. Intoday s society, someone of that age commands and deserves the properrespect.”She carried a thin, small cane made from an umbrella, and with this shekept tapping the frozen earth in front of her,” (paragraph 1). The next conflict that plagued her is that of her health. In thepreceding quotation, there was one important note that readers shouldtake into consideration. The fact that she kept persistently tapping theearth in front of her could only indicate one thing that she wasvisually impaired. She may not have been completely blind, but she hadto have been substantially impaired to have kept tapping her cane in aredundant manner. Someone who is even remotely visually impaired shouldnot be traveling in the forest. Phoenix also suffered from a problemthat often plagues people at an old age. This problem is senility. “But she sat down to rest She did not dare to close her eyes and when a
little boy brought her a plate with a slice of marble-cake on it shespoke to him. “That would be acceptable,” she said. But when she went totake it there was just her own hand in the air,” (paragraph 15). This was just one out of many instances in the story where Phoenixtalked to herself and hadhallucinations. Talking to one s self in the forest is a definite signof senility. Phoenix did not allow her two disabilities to get in herway, but had society cared for her properly she would have been in aninstitution for the elderly. As for her grandson s health, the readersknow that he also, was not doing well. The only pertinent informationgiven was that he “swallowed lye,” (paragraph 91). He, also, should havebeen receiving professional care. An American society in the nineteenforty s did not provide free health care, and that sets up the finalconflict, the state of poverty of Phoenix Jackson. “It s Christmas time, Grandma,” said the attendant. “Could I give you afew pennies out of my purse?”"Five pennies is a nickel,” said Phoenix stiffly,” (paragraph 100)This quotation, a conversation between Phoenix and the attendant at themedical building, came after Phoenix had arrived at the doctor s officeand had already received her medicine from the attendant. Phoenix wasnot ashamed to ask for the extra pocket change so that she could buy hergrandson a windmill made out of paper. That nickel was the second nickelthat she had managed to obtain. The first five cents was basicallyobtained through theft. She distracted a hunter she had met in theforest so that she could pick up a nickel that he had dropped. Phoenixhad no reason to be ashamed of the ten cents that she had acquiredthrough begging and stealing. Her perspective was that society had norespect for her, so why should she have respect for society?In conclusion, poverty was probably the main conflict out of all theother four mentioned. Had she not been poor, she would have been able toafford proper care for herself and her grandson and would therefore beliving a higher standard of life. Had she not been poor, she could havepaid for a cab ride to the city or she could have paid for delivery ofthe medicine. She would not have had to beg for meaningless nickels. Without money society doesn t care for you and has therefore no respectfor you no matter how old you might be. Work CitedWelty, Eudora. “A Worn Path.” Writing About Literature. Brief EighthEdition. Edgar V Roberts Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall,1995. 196-201.