The Worn Path Essay, Research Paper
The Worn Path is a story written by Eudora Welty in 1942 about a poor, elderly, black woman named Phoenix Jackson and affectionately called Granny. This story?s setting is mainly in the woods surrounding a small town in the southern United States. The main theme concerns Phoenix?s journey through the woods using colorful imagery such as black symbolizing death and white symbolizing the old south?s culture of white authority. Phoenix is a static character who confronts conflicts of man vs. man, man vs. nature and man vs. himself. During these conflicts, we find Granny Jackson?s best inner qualities which are her humor, her willingness to take a chance and her ability to be content with her own limitations.
Granny is a funny, old woman and probably does not even know it most of the time. Nevertheless, whenever she encounters an obstacle, an animal or a person, she relates to them in a humorous way. Granny had a funny incident with a thorn bush where she says ?I in the thorn bush…Never want to let folks pass, no sir? (72). When she spoke to the animals that confronted her, she amusingly said ?sleep on, alligators, and blow your bubbles? and later on ?that black dog come up out of the weeds to stall you off, and now there he sitting on his fine tail, smiling at you? (73). Lastly, the best quote of Granny?s humor was when the hunter found her lying in the ditch and asked her what she was doing, and she replied ?Lying on my back like a June-bug waiting to be turned over, mister? (73). Throughout the story, Granny Jackson supplies the story it?s humor just by acting herself. The chances she takes puts her into situations that become humorous when she expresses herself in her typical old country charm way.
Phoenix Jackson is a most daring woman shown by her willingness to take chances. Few other elderly women would risk health and even death to journey into town. Phoenix faced challenges such as the torturous terrain, wild animals, and prejudice white strangers. Whether it is by Courage or stupidity, Phoenix never showed fear when climbing a steep hill, crossing a creek by walking across a single log, making her way through a maze of corn taller than her head or crawling through a barbed-wire fence. Phoenix knew about the potential harm of foxes, bulls, two-headed snakes, alligators and other wild animals, but she still made the journey. Finally, when confronted by human forms of danger like the ghost, Phoenix extended her hand to touch it and when the white, prejudice hunter with a shotgun told her twice to go home, she continued into town anyway. Phoenix Jackson is a woman who is content with herself and self-assured enough to take the chances necessary to enable herself to accomplish what she needs to get done.
Most importantly, Granny Jackson?s humor and willingness to take chances stem from her ability to be content with her own limitations. Granny has quite a few limitations relating mainly to her age, physical health and lack of education yet she is quite content with them all. Along the way, Granny gets stuck in a thorn bush and instead of getting angry with herself, she accepts her shortcomings and says kindly to the thorn bush ?Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush? (72). When she mistook the scarecrow for a ghost, she laughed at herself and happily danced with the scarecrow. When Granny was sitting on the log and when she fell into the ditch, her senility overcame her, but both times, she did not let it bother her. Granny also knew she could not bend over to tie her unlaced shoe, but she walked all the way to town with it untied and upon arriving, she politely asked a passerby to do it for her. Lastly, when she was in the doctor?s office, she forgot what she had come for because of the confrontation she had with the receptionist. Nevertheless, she politely apologized stating her lack of education and failing memory for forgetting. Very few older people are as peacefully content with their disposition as is Granny Jackson. She is a role model for all of us.
Phoenix Jackson is the kind of woman everyone would like to call Grandma. Because of her age, she has had many experiences in life. She is funny, polite and full of endurance and strong will to take on whatever is necessary to overcome the challenges that she must face. The author has portrayed Phoenix with a subtle warmth that is endearing to the reader while simultaneously supplying an ample amount of symbolism. The author wants the reader to like Granny so that they will pay more attention and can relate to the problems she endures during her journey, especially ones that are uniquely related to her being black. The overall symbolism of the story is how the endurance, resourcefulness and strong minds of the black culture can overcome the suppression brought about by the white culture, even in the face of death.