“A Worn Path” is a story of an old woman’s enduring courage, and strength, despite scores of obstacles. It begins on a “bright frozen day in the early morning.
” Phoenix Jackson is making a strenuous journey across a wintry countryside to acquire medicine for her grandson who is chronically ill. She was “very old and small and/she carried a thin small cane made from an umbrella.” This clearly shows the reader that she is not suited for this arduous excursion. However, she has made the same trip a countless amount of times. The author uses Phoenix’s story to represent a journey of life. Her unwillingness to immediately reveal the purpose of the journey allows the reader to interpret this as a general journey without a specific purpose, just as life is often referred to as a journey whose reason is unknown. The obstacles she runs across in her travels represent the problems that one might have to face in life.
Welty wants the reader to focus on Phoenix, her journey, and the obstacles that get in her way; because it is through the story of this journey that the author coveys her message, showing Phoenix’s sheer will and determination to endure, no matter what hardship presents itself to her. Throughout the entirety of the story, the author uses the third person limited omniscient point of view. This serves to give the other characters in the story less dimension, and thus, less importance, so that Phoenix is the only character that is fully developed.
With this point of view, her physical characteristics are described, in depth, in the beginning of the story through the narrator. Sensuous imagery is used to put a brilliant picture of Phoenix in the mind of the reader. “Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles.” This passage is exemplary of Welty’s exceptional ability to captivate one’s interest through use of diction. The characteristics of her personality are also depicted mainly through the reader’s experience of her actions, words, thoughts, and interactions with the other characters.
This is the main reason that the other characters are a necessity. The hunter tries to persuade Phoenix to go home. He represents those in life who try to stand in the way and discourage people from fulfilling their goals. But she tells him, “I bound to go to town, Mister…the time come around.
” This clearly shows the reader that she has no intention of giving up, and that she will face up to the challenges of what she has to accomplish. The hunter helps to build the image of Phoenix by showing her fearlessness. Another character that is used to develop Phoenix’s personality is the white woman in town who she asks to tie her shoe. Phoenix has the courage to ask this woman (a white woman no less) a favor. This instance is meant to show her bravery and her pride. She thinks of herself as worthy of this stranger’s time and attention, and is not afraid to ask.
The nurse is the last of the characters to make an appearance in the story. It is through the nurse that the reason for her journey is explained, and it is through this character that Phoenix receives the medicine, which is the significance to her journey. The reader is then able to interpret the medicine as the goal in life that one needs to struggle for. Therefore, in waiting to reveal the purpose of her journey, Welty successfully delivers her message of need for spirit, courage, and determination in life to be able to achieve goals that are set.Bibliography: