Themes In A Worn Path

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Welty’s short story “A Worn Path” has been subjected to many diverse, interpretive responses over the years. For example, the short story is rich with a variety of different symbols, imagery, and ideas. Nonetheless, despite the variety of analytical responses, the fundamental theme of “love conquers all” is still present. The main character Phoenix is able to make a heroic sacrifice by enduring a long and tiresome journey to the city. Her main motivation is the love she has for her grandson because she must travel to purchase the medication he needs to overcome his illness. In addition, all the small details of her journey prove to be significant by allowing the reader to further analyze the short story and understand its theme. Many people…show more content…
Welty does a phenomenal job of using imagery to subtly illustrate the racial hardships and inequalities of that time period (Sykes 151). During Phoenix’s journey, she endured endless struggles if not against “scurrying hogs, then against the thorny bush that “never want to let folks pass” (Welty 143). The endless amount of struggles Phoenix faced symbolized racial conflict African Americans faced despite being newly freed from slavery. Other aspects of imagery were demonstrated through the example of the marble cake, chained feet, thorny bush, and the windmill Phoenix bought for her grandson. For example, “the vision of a slice of black and white cake appears to be a reference to the idea of integration in the South” (Sykes 151-152). Also, “Welty is even more obvious with her imagery...as Phoenix climbs up tiresome hills” (Sykes 151)...Welty notes “seems like there are chains on my feet” (Welty 143). Both of these quotes clearly present “the unsettling reference to the bound slaves that Phoenix recalls from her long life” (Sykes 151). She also had many encounters with other white characters throughout the story that “represented attitudes of whites in the South after the war” (Sykes 152). One major encounter she had was when she came across the white hunter. The…show more content…
The reader can conclude that the short story takes place post civil war, and the reader can also conclude that Phoenix is really old; making it possible for her to have been a former slave in her early years. Therefore, one might assume that Phoenix has a form of dementia and that is why she gets lost in trances, and these trances are in fact triggered by past memories of her adolescent years in slavery. The author, Mary Ann Dazey, further explains that the lady in which Phoenix asks to tie her shoes once she arrives in the city has a much greater purpose to the story and history of Phoenix. Likewise, “Phoenix wants her laces tied not because she fears she will trip...she has walked the long path over the hills and through bushes and thickets and over the creek on a log with these laces flapping” (Dazey 92). Dazey then explains that Phoenix asked for her shoes to be tied once she arrived in the city as more of a “ritual” (Dazey 92). Moreover, who Phoenix asks to tie her shoes is equally important to her character and the story. Phoenix specifically chooses a lady that had “scent of roses (that) awakened the memory of old Phoenix...in that memory spoke to her of gentleness and trust” (Dazey 92). Despite the fact that there were hundreds of people bustling through the city streets, all of different races and backgrounds in which Phoenix could have approached and
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