A Worn Path (1941) by Eudora Welty
A WORN PATH (1941) BY EUDORA WELTY 5
AWorn Path (1941) by Eudora Welty
AWorn Path (1941) by Eudora Welty
Thestory “A Worn Path” (1941) authored by Eudora Welty reveals twoimportant aspects ofthe American situation characterized by poverty, violence, andhumanitarian practices. Historically, the period when Welty wrote thestory ismarkedby the events of World War II and the great depression that isestimated to have started in 1934. Consequently, Americans,especially from black races,were suffering in poverty. What interests most concerning the storyis the humanitarian practices as evident in its unfolding. EudoraWelty clearly demonstrates the acts of generosity, care, and lovetowards the poor by the able individuals despite the extreme povertyand violence that existed at the time she was writing the story.
Thestory “A Worn Path” narrates a journey of Phoenix Jackson, an oldwoman and a grandmother who traveled a longdistance from Nashville across valleys, woods, and rivers to obtainmedicine for her sick grandson from her sponsoring clinic in Natcheztown. Along the journey, Phoenix Jackson encounters both physical andpsychological challenges that she courageously endures.Significantly, this reveals her determinations to help the young boywho had consumed poisonous lye recover (an alkaline chemical that wascommon among the poor households) (Claxton,2015).She finally reachedthe clinic where although unable to speak in the first moments, picksher medicine. She seemed relaxed and happy that she finally got themedicine, but she had another journey home.
Thereare few instances the situations of poverty and generosity is evidentin the story. For instance, the old woman was the custodian of hersick grandson whose parents arenot explainedin the story (Dilgen, 2014). Despite the poor backgrounds the oldwoman belonged to, she took responsibility forthe sick child. Thisis an act of mercy and care for her grandson, especially at the timeswhen people lived in poverty.
Onher way through the woods, the old woman encountered challenges suchas logs, thorns, birds and wild animals. In the story, thesesymbolized different things. For example, the presence of the birdshe asked“who are youwatching?” (Welty,1941, p.17)representsthedeath hanging around her sick grandson, while the illusion in which aboy was holding a bowl for her revealed her mental unstableness(Claxton,2015). The most significant challenge she encounters is the running dogthat knocks her down from where a white hunter assisted her to standup. When he learnedof her long journey, he advised her to go back home out ofcompassion. This,however, was after pointing a gun at her thinking it is funny(Dilgen, 2014). Although Welty used the hunter`scharacter to reveal the violence that existed (as the young hunterpointed the gun at Jackson and went away shooting in the air), sheperfectly revealed the power of love, compassion,and care above violence and racial hatred.
Theother act of care and compassion isseenwhen Phoenix Jackson reached the clinic at the town,feeling tired and unable to talk. According to the story, this clinicoffers her drugs free of charges, and as seen by the acts of the twonurses, some pocket money (Welty,1941). Phoenix Jackson is a charity case to the clinic and its management,even two years since the grandson got sick. When the nurses gave hersome money, she pledged it for a paper toy for her grandson, still anindication of love and care she had.
Inconclusion, the story by Eudora Welty clearly demonstrates the powerof humanity above the forces of violence and racial hatred. The actsof compassion, care, and love areseenin the lives of bothpoorand the rich. Evidently, PhoenixJackson despite her poor status struggled to provide for thegrandson. As seen in the story, she endures all the challengesincluding death to see her grandson’s recovery. Probably, this isconfirmed by her name “Phoenix” that belongs to the legendarybird that could rise out of its ashes. Similarly, people shouldendure all challenges across economic, racial and religion barriersto help the less fortunate.
Dilgen,R. (2014). AddressingAgeism through Eudora Welty`s "A Worn Path."RadicalTeacher,(98), 62-63. doi:10.5195/rt.2014.52
Claxton,M. M. (2015). Migrationsand Transformations: Human and Nonhuman Nature in Eudora Welty`s "AWorn Path."SouthernLiterary Journal,47(2), 73-88.
Welty,E. (1941). AWorn Path.TheAtlantic.Retrieved 5 April 2017, fromhttps://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1941/02/a-worn-path/376236/
No related posts.