A Worn Path Analysis Essay
“A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, Phoenix Jackson’s life ironically resembled a worn path. Jackson also displays great perseverance in the difficulties with racism she faced in this story during this depressive era.
A Worn Path by Eudora Welty is about a woman named Phoenix Jackson who takes a trip into town to get medicine for her sick grandson. Although she has made trips into town often, something about this trip is different. On this journey of hers she endures some challenging hardships.
On a bright and early December morning Jackson left her home. She would walk around with her small cane made from an umbrella. She began to tap her way down as she walked. She looked a little rough but that wasn’t unusual for her. She wasn’t as young as she once was anymore, she aged with wrinkles and became frail. She walked and walked and shooed the animals out of her way. The path began to run upwards. “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far,” she knows this trip takes a toll on her, but she makes these trips out of love, so she says that as a reminder to her body which is telling her to stop to keep going.
“Thorns you doing your appointed work. Never letting folks pass, no sir. Old eyes thought you was pretty little green bush” As you age you begin to see the world differently, so soft floppy bush leaves to her are sharp pointy thorns to us. As she got caught in the bush and fell over, she still managed to focus on the beauty that the bush had possessed. So, weather human or not Jackson still sees everything as having its own purpose in this life.
On these walks she always came to the point where the was no path just her knowledge of knowing her way around. “Through the maze now.” “…A pleasure I don’t see no two-headed snake coming around that tree, where it once come. It took a while to get by him, back in the summer.” she was thankful that through the “maze” she rarely runs into any dangerous animals this time of year. It gives her path a more trouble-free approach.
As she continued, on her path she ran into a “ghost.’’ she saw something tall, black, and skinny moving before her. Her first thought was that it was a man. But she stood still and just listened and it didn’t utter a word. As she closed her eyes and reached out her hand, she discovered this “ghost” was a scare crow. Jackson now unfrighten she began to laugh it off and continue her weary path to the easy place, which was beautiful quiet bare fields, cabins, and trees with no leaves. She began to grow with thirst. She went over to the spring, bent over and drank the flowing water. “Sweet-gum makes the water sweet,” as she continued drinking the spring water.
Soon enough a hunter came along. He spotted Jackson laying down. “Well Granny!” “What are you doing here?’’ said the hunter. “Lying on my back like a June-bug waiting to be turned over, mister’’ Jackson replied. The hunter helped her up and asked where she was headed off to. She told him she was on her way into town and how far away it was from her home. “Doesn’t the gun scare you” the hunter said. “No, sir, I seen plenty go off close by…’’ said Jackson. To which the hunter replied “you must be 100 years old, and scared of nothing…” then told Jackson that she should stay home, but Jackson didn’t care she continued about her way.
Phoenix has made it into ‘the paved city.” Since its Christmas time there were red and green lights everywhere. A lady walking in her direction on the street carrying presents and smelled like “red roses in hot summer” Phoenix stopped her and asked her if she could tie her shoe since its harder for her to do because she has gotten older. The lady responds, “Stand still then, Grandma.” To which Phoenix replied, “can’t lace ‘em with a cane,’’ She thanks the lady and then enters the store.
As Phoenix entered the store she was greeted with rudeness from the attendant. “Here I be,” said Phoenix, to which the attendant responds with “A charity case, I suppose.” It didn’t seem to bother Phoenix as much since “There was sweat on her face, the wrinkles in her skin shone like a bright net.” She had almost forgot the reason she takes these trips every now and again. The attendant continued to ask her questions with insulting remarks. To which Phoenix payed her no mind.
The nurse who is fond of Phoenix comes out and tells the attendant who she is and what she is there for. “Oh, that’s just Old Phoenix…she doesn’t come for herself – she has a little grandson. She makes these trips just as regular clockwork. She lives away back off the Old Natchez Trace.’’ after telling the attendant who she was she began to talk to Phoenix. “Now, how is the boy?” she asked. Phoenix didn’t respond. The nurse asked again “I said, how is the boy?” Phoenix “stared straight face ahead…” The nurse continued to ask Phoenix questions. To which Phoenix still wasn’t responding to her. It was almost as if Phoenix had forgotten what she made this journey for.
“Tell us quickly about your grandson and get over it. He isn’t dead, is he?” and that triggered Phoenix memory. “My Grandson. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my long trip.” This was kind of a shock to the nurse because Phoenix came all this way for nothing if the nurse didn’t say something that triggered her to remembering what she came for. They continued, on with their conversation which then the nurse asked Phoenix what she came for. “Throat never heals, does it?” said the nurse. To which Phoenix answered all the nurse’s previous questions “No, missy, he not dead, he just the same. Every little while his throat begins to close again, and he not able to swallow. He not get his breath. He not able to help himself. So, the time come around, and I go on another trip for the soothing medicine.”
After talking with the nurse and attendant decides to head home, but before she leaves the store the attendant offers her money which Phoenix asks politely accepts. Then she looks at the money and knows exactly what she is going to use it for. Phoenix goes on to say “I going to the store and buy my child a little windmill they sells, mad out of paper. He going to find it hard to believe there such a thing in the world.” Now she is on her way.
Throughout this story Welty goes into detail to explain to us how love truly conquers all. Phoenix continuously makes these trips for her grandson who sometimes is unable to breathe. At her age it makes it difficult but the love she has for her grandson is what makes these trips worth it and the devotion she has to him pushes her to achieve her goal of making it into town.