Welty Essay, Research Paper
The Path of the Phoenix
Authors try to incorporate symbols into their stories to help display the qualities of characters, lifestyles, or foreshadowing of things to come. Symbols to any author are just another tool to explain a story a little better. In Eudora Welty s tale A Worn Path symbols help draw the reader closer to the lead character. Welty uses symbols like the name chosen for the lead, the weather, and the colors to describe the rigors she must overcome. In the end the Welty makes it clear what all these symbols have led up to.
Welty refers back to an ancient mythical creature with the name of her character. She names the lead Phoenix, after a mystical bird whom would burn into flames at the end of its life and then rise again from its own ashes. The name is quite significant because of the character s age and condition. Phoenix Jackson is described as, very old and small and she walked slowly (Welty 59). It is clear that Phoenix has little time left yet she has risen once again to complete a goal. Welty s choice in such a name displays the overcoming of physical and mental hardships to finish what she has set out to do.
An author traditionally uses the weather to describe situations or conditions the lead character may face. The use of spring months displays a rebirth of the spirit or favorable conditions, and the winter months mean quite the opposite. Welty sets the mood with the first three words, It was December (59). December represents the end; when the grass is dead, leaves no longer hang from the limbs of the trees, and old age becomes most evident. Cold weather exaggerates every move a person makes, from the heated breath from one s mouth to the small step that has to be taken more carefully because of ice. Welty attempts to use the weather as a way of telling the reader that death is imminent, and that this could be Phoenix s last chance.
Welty s description of colors extend to the reader a feeling of morbid curiosity as to what will happen next. After Phoenix is introduced the author starts to describe everything in more of a dark tone. The colors become a little less bright and the surroundings become a little more fierce. Welty used dark and black to express danger to Phoenix like when A black dog with a lolling tongue came up out of the weeds by the ditch (62). Welty made the dog black because black is commonly referred as a fear invoking color. Her use of color throughout the whole story helps elaborate a theme that death surrounds a watching world.
The symbolic uses in this story are overwhelming to those who know to look for them. With a morbid setting such as a cold winter and the lead being an elder woman the symbols start from the very beginning. Welty has Phoenix triumph in her battle against nature and herself, but leaves you wondering how many more times she will be able to win that battle. Eudora Welty uses symbols that could possibly answer that question.