The Worn Path Research Paper The

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Essay, Research Paper: The Worn Path

The Worn Path is a narrative written by Eudora Welty in 1942 about an elderly black woman named Phoenix Jackson, also known as Granny. The story takes place mainly in the forests surrounding a small town in the southern United States. The main theme revolves around Phoenix’s journey through the forest, using vivid imagery such as black symbolizing death and white representing the old South’s culture of white authority. Phoenix is a passive character who faces conflicts of man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. himself. Throughout these struggles, we discover Granny Jackson’s admirable qualities, including her wit, her willingness to take risks, and her ability to find contentment within her own limitations.

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Granny is an amusing old woman who often doesn’t even realize it. However, whenever she comes across an obstacle, a person, or an animal, she responds to them in a humorous way. Granny had a funny incident with a thorn bush where she said, “I am in the thorn bush … Never want to let folks pass through, 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 scare you off, and now there he sitting on his fine tail, smiling at you” (73). Lastly, the best quote showcasing Granny’s wit was when the hunter found her lying in the ditch and asked her what she was doing. She replied, “Lying on my back like a June-bug waiting to be turned over, mister” (73). Throughout the story, Granny Jackson provides its humor by simply being herself. The risks she takes land her in situations that become humorous when she expresses herself in her typical old country charm manner.

Phoenix Jackson is a incredibly brave woman, showcased through her willingness to take risks. Very few elderly women would risk their health and even their lives to travel into town. Phoenix encountered challenges such as difficult terrain, wild animals, and prejudiced white strangers. Whether it was due to her bravery or perhaps her disregard for danger, Phoenix never showed fear as she climbed steep hills, crossed streams by walking across a single log, navigated through a maze of corn taller than her head, or crawled under a barbed-wire fence. Phoenix was aware of the potential danger posed by foxes, bulls, two-headed snakes, alligators, and other wild animals, but she still embarked on the journey. In the end, when faced with encounters with other humans,

Despite the imminent danger perceived from the shade, Phoenix Jackson fearlessly reached out her hand to touch it. She persisted in her journey into town, disregarding the insistence of the white, biased hunter armed with a shotgun to go back home. Phoenix Jackson is a confident woman who is satisfied with herself and possesses enough self-assurance to embrace the necessary opportunities that enable her to accomplish her objectives.

Granny Jackson’s contentment with her own limitations allows her to embrace opportunities and showcase her wit. Despite facing restrictions related to her age, physical health, and lack of education, Granny remains content. Instead of getting angry with herself when getting stuck in a thorn shrub, she kindly acknowledges her mistake and humorously comments, “Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green shrub?” (72). She laughs at herself when mistaking a straw man for a shade and happily dances with it. Even when her old age causes her to stumble or fall, Granny doesn’t let it bother her. She accepts that she can’t bend over to tie her shoe and walks all the way to town with it untied. Upon arriving, she politely asks a passer-by to help with it. Despite forgetting why she went to the doctor’s office due to a confrontation with the receptionist, Granny apologizes courteously, attributing her lack of education and failing memory for the forgetfulness. Very few older people are as peacefully content as Granny Jackson. She serves as a role model for all of us.

Phoenix Jackson is an admirable grandmother figure, who possesses wisdom from a lifetime of experiences. She exhibits a delightful sense of humor, politeness, as well as a remarkable endurance and determination to overcome any challenges she encounters. The author’s portrayal of Phoenix is infused with a subtle warmth, which endears her to the reader. Additionally, this portrayal encompasses a significant amount of symbolism. The author desires the reader to empathize with Phoenix, giving her the attention she deserves and allowing for the establishment of a connection with the struggles she faces throughout her journey. These struggles are uniquely tied to her identity as a black woman. The overarching symbolism of the story highlights the resilience, resourcefulness, and strength of the black community in overcoming the oppression imposed by the white community, even in the face of death.

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