Metaphors In A Worn Path

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1. Let 's start with Phoenix. The fact that Phoenix is a city in Arizona doesn 't have anything to do with our leading lady, but the fact that a phoenix is a mythological bird does. Phoenix the woman has many similarities to phoenix the mighty bird. There are frequent references to time and age in the story. For instance, Welty uses the metaphor of a pendulum 's motion in a grandfather clock to capture the way Phoenix moves (1), and Phoenix often refers to how old she is, even going so far as to say, "I the oldest people I ever know" (26). Statements like this give her a kind of immortal feel, like she 's been around long enough to know the secrets of the universe and won 't be bowing out any time soon.
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4. There is no question that Welty knew what she was doing when she chose to name the main character of “A Worn Path” Phoenix Jackson. A Phoenix is a mythological creature that lives for five centuries before burning to ashes. After burning, the creature rises back to life as a young bird from these ashes and the cycle repeats itself without end. That Phoenix shares a name with such a creature reflects her indefatigable nature, her constant striving towards her goal, as well as her unflagging optimism and high spirits. The name also suggests Phoenix’s longevity: though the story takes place in 1941, she was already too old in 1865 to go to school. Like a phoenix, too, she makes her journey again and again without failure. Finally, the phoenix was also seen as a symbol for Christ, who was also resurrected. And so, Phoenix’s name also marks her as a Christ figure in…show more content…
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6. Early on in her quest, Phoenix encounters a mourning dove (4). While doves in general are used as symbols of peace, love, and spirituality/the Holy Spirit, this bird gets its sad name from its song, which sounds like a call of grief. It 's a fitting symbol for Phoenix 's journey since her trek is filled with love, faith, and sadness. When you see buzzards (a.k.a. vultures or birds of prey) in literature, you usually know the news isn’t good. They are often symbols for death, decay, and destruction, though they can sometimes also be used to symbolize regeneration. Death always hangs in the background of "A Worn Path." Phoenix 's grandson is very ill, and Phoenix herself is so old that death may come for her soon as well. When Phoenix comes upon the buzzard after passing through "dead trees" and a "withered cotton field" (16), it 's a reminder that death is ever present. Phoenix isn 't afraid of the buzzard, though. Quite the contrary. She stands up to it, sassily demanding to know "Who you watching?" (17). The mythological bird with which Phoenix shares a name also defies death by rising anew from its own ashes, and here, Phoenix the woman demonstrates that she, too, balks at death. Phoenix encounters bobwhite quail a few times in the story. At one point, she sees them walking about seeming all "dainty and unseen" on the "easy" (29) part of the path. Soon after, though, the quail are dead and stuffed in the hunter 's game bag. Bobwhite quail are commonly hunted
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