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In the short story, “ A Worn Path “ written by Eudora Welty it can be interpreted that Phoenix Jackson is suffering from dementia or some other form of mental illness, and that her grandson that she so lovingly speaks of has been deceased for some time. The analytical approach that was used to enhance this reading was the Reader Response Approach. While reading the story of Phoenix Jackson, a distinct emotional feeling engulfed me that something was not quite right, especially with Phoenix.
I connected with her almost immediately and feared for her safety throughout the story, especially when the hunter pointed his gun at her. The story described that day as being a frozen December day, yet no mention of Phoenix wearing a coat is depicted. Example: She wore a dark striped dress reaching down to her shoe tops, and an equally long apron of bleached sugar sacks, with a full pocket. (Clugston, R. W. ) The elderly are especially vulnerable to the cold weather due to the thinning of their blood that occurs with the advancement of age. ( nih. gov. She would have surely donned a coat before beginning her journey, had she been in her correct mental facilities. Also, Phoenix was talking to animals that she believed to be nearby as if they could understand her. Example: “ Sleep on alligators and blow your bubbles. ” ( Clugston, R. W. ) The grandson that she speaks with such devotion is already deceased and probably has been for quite some time. As Phoenix was walking through the forest she created an apparition in her own mind of a little boy. This was symbolic of her love for this child being so great that she conjured him up in her mind.
Example: She did not dare close her eyes and when a little boy brought her a plate with a slice of marble cake on it she spoke to him, “ That would be acceptable. ” But when she went to take it, there was just her own hand in the air. ( Clugston, R. W. ) Another reason to believe that the grandson is deceased revolves around the statements Phoenix Jackson made. Example: “My little grandson, he sit up there in the house all wrapped up waiting by himself. ” Earlier, she had made a statement to the nurse, “ Every little while his throat begins to close up again and he not able to swallow.
He not get his breath. He not able to help himself so the time come around and I go on another trip for the soothing medicine. ” (Clugston, R. W. ) No one would leave a child unattended in this condition. If Phoenix actually left the child at home alone, this is definitely criteria that could be utilized to challenge her mental acumen. The Reader Response Approach to Welty’s “The Worn Path “ assisted in the understanding of Phoenix Jackson’s mentality and the language that was used showed her unusual responses to people and things around her.
The analytical approach which was applied to this story played a distinct role in my interpretation process by providing me with the necessary tools that I needed to closely look at the story and the hidden meaning that it possessed. Phoenix also brought back memories of my deceased great-grandmother who suffered from a severe form of dementia. The emotion that I felt from the comparison involved a desire to escape the past association with my great-grandmother’s illness and on the same token it caused me to want to finish the story and to find that Phoenix would somehow reach a happy conclusion.
The change that this approach created in my thinking and relationships is one in which I believe that you should cherish everyday that you have with loved ones, especially the elderly, as you never know when their mentality will slowly drift away and all meaningful forms of communication will be lost. This approach further provided a connection between Welty’s “A Worn Path” and another literary piece called, “A Rose for Emily,” written by William Faulkner. This connection further added to the reinforcement of things that I had already discovered in my reading.
In the short story,” A Worn Path,” written by Eudora Welty, it can be interpreted that Phoenix Jackson is suffering from dementia or some other form of mental illness and that her grandson, who she so lovingly speaks of has been deceased for some time. We have seen first hand through Phoenix Jackson’s language, details of actions and etc. that she is in a mental state of decline to the point that she doesn’t realize her little grandson has died, nor is she aware of the cold. Therefore, we can reach no other conclusion other than Phoenix is in a profound state of mental decline.
References
Clugston, R.W. (2010) Journey into Literature , San Diego, CA. Bridgeport Education, Inc. http: www. nih.gov/news/health/jan2009/nia-16.htm.

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