Symbolism In Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

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In the short story “A Worn Path,” the author, Eudora Welty employs mythical, religious, and spiritual symbolism along with the setting to help the reader understand an elderly African-American woman’s life. Welty also utilizes symbolism to represent the hardships the woman has faced during the woman’s life. The elderly African-American woman’s name is Phoenix and is on a journey to town as the readers are taken on a journey through her life. Welty also employs fine details and sentence structure in addition to the symbolism and setting to increase the understanding of her story or change the meaning an object.
Welty uses the symbolism of two mythical creatures to represent a theme in the short story, “A Worn Path.” During the walk Phoenix
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Each of these objects may represent all the death Phoenix has seen in her life or how much death she has survived. Welty uses the sentences “…she could not pay for having her arm or leg sawed off if she got caught fast where she was” and “Then there was something tall, black, and there, moving before her” (Welty 481) to symbolize Phoenix’s fear from the events of her past still affect her life today. The first sentence may represent a punishment she saw before for being on somebody else’s land or what happens to a person if they end up getting thoroughly caught in the barbed-wired. In the other sentence something described, as tall, black, and moving, maybe be a shadow or in Phoenix’s case the shadows of hardship from her past. As Phoenix continues to make her way to town she observes a couple of objects that are described as silver (Welty 482). In the Bible, the color silver is used to symbolize truth ("Silver Color Meaning…”) and is often associated with redemption (“Metals in Scripture…”). In the book of Leviticus 5:15-16, it mentions that if a soul has trespassed or sin against the commandments of the Lord the trespasser would have given a certain number of shekels of silver to the church to help in order to find redemption (“Metals in Scripture…”). Welty employs the combination silver and this journey to town to symbolize how Phoenix is currently headed…show more content…
One factor that tries to hinder Phoenix’s progress is a black dog. In Christianity the color black can symbolize sin and separation from the light of God. While dogs are used to symbolize the people on the outside or people who believe they are spiritual when they just have experience (“Bible Symbols…”). In the story the black dog came at Phoenix, causing her to be knocked into a trench. This symbolizes the part in Phoenix’s life where the actions and sins of others have made her an outsider. Welty also has a young, white hunter with a chained dog and a dead bobwhite come across Phoenix. The most significant points about the hunter is that he says “Why, that’s too far!” and “Now you go on home!” to Phoenix. The statements show the hunter is not only trying to hinder her progress, but stop it all together. Now the bobwhite is also called a quail can symbolize the overcoming obstacles and hardship. The dead bobwhite symbolizes that the hunter has managed to stop other from overcoming their hardship just as he is trying to do to Phoenix. These are a few of the many examples of how Welty utilizes symbolism to represent the hardship in Phoenix’s
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