An Analysis Of Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

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Eudora is a phenomenal writer. She is the first living author to have her works published by the Library of America and has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In her interview with Jo Brans in 1980, Eudora Welty revealed she wrote because she loved language and loved using language. She used this love to create memorable characters that connect with the reader’s heart and mind (Welty and Barns). One of her most memorable character is Phoenix Jackson from “A Worn Path.” Phoenix is a brave elderly black woman who is on a risky journey where she encounters numerous obstacles but continues on fuelled by a love for her ailing grandson. Eudora Welty illustrated the resilience of the human spirit…show more content…
During this time, black people were treated with disdain by white people and racism was still very common. Eudora Welty’s Phoenix Jackson was familiar with this kind of treatment but never allowed it to deter her from her real purpose. Even the land seemed to be against Phoenix, the prickly thorns, the barbwire fencing, the brook, the corns in the field each tested her endurance and courage. The patient nature of Phoenix’s character is shown when her skirts got entangled in a thorny bush. Instead of getting flustered, irritated, or impatient Phoenix simply remarked that the thorny bush was doing what it was supposed to do. The bush was in her path and did hinder her in her journey, but she never spoke an unkind word. “Now comes the trial” (Welty). Phoenix says this as if her next steps are the most difficult part of the journey. In her old age and deceivingly frail look Phoenix must cross a stream by walking across on a log; she did this with her eyes closed. Whether it was from making the journey numerous times before or Phoenix’s incredible ability to balance well she executed the “trial” with the ease, as Welty puts it, of a festival figure. Again, Phoenix never utters a negative word or thinks a negative…show more content…
Her encounter with the hunter appears to be the favored scene to critic. Firstly, the reader sees Phoenix interact with a white character for the first time, and secondly, the interaction shows how Phoenix uses negative stereotypes to her advantage. In the scene, Phoenix was knocked over by a black dog into a ditch with a force strong enough to knock her unconscientious. When she awoke, luckily a white hunter who was passing by stopped and helped her to her feet. The hunter inquired of Phoenix where she was going when she told him “to town” he responded with "I know you old colored people! Wouldn't miss going to town to see Santa Claus!” (Welty). He belittles Phoenix and assumes there could be no other reason for this black old woman to make the journey to town. After a short dialogue, Phoenix played on the hunter’s ego and arrogance saying the black dog that knocked her down is not afraid of anyone. The hunter, as expected, took her challenge head on and dashed after the black dog into woods. Having diverted the hunter’s attention, Phoenix slowly and elaborately pick up the nickel that she had seen dropped from his pocket. After the diversion, the hunter pointed his gun at Phoenix, but she did not flinch. There are critics, such as Nancy Butterworth in her article “From Civil War to Civil Rights: Race Relations in Welty's 'A Worn Path'”, who argues that the
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