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A Worn Path by Eudora Welty

Eudora Welty’s 1941 short story “A Worn Path,” first appeared in Atlantic Monthly and became the title of one of her many short story collections. On the surface it is the story of an elderly African-American woman named Phoenix, but it is rife with symbolism and open to interpretation.

In “A Worn Path,” a woman named Phoenix Jackson is walking through the woods, on her way into Natchez, Mississippi. She has undertaken the journey in order to acquire some much-needed medicine for her grandson. Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on A Worn Path that follows your guidelines.

A Worn Path by Eudora Welty

A Worn Path Plot

However, it becomes clear that Phoenix is suffering from dementia. Evidence is presented that her grandson, who swallowed lye some years previous, is actually dead and much of what Phoenix sees are actually hallucinations. Phoenix encounters numerous deterrents along the way, including a large dog, barbed wire fence, a hunter and a woman who ties Phoenix’s shoes together.

Phoenix tells the nurse that her grandson’s throat occasionally closes up, suggesting that he suffocated, but perhaps indicative of the ways in which African-Americans were without a voice in the Old South. Regardless, Phoenix’s extreme devotion to her grandson and her persistence in her journey are indicative of unconditional love and the perseverance to complete a goal. Many critics have found parallels between “A Worn Path” and Odyssey by Homer.

Other works by Eudora Welty:

  • Death of a Traveling Salesman
  • A Curtain of Green
  • Why I Live at the P.O.
  • Petrified Man

Related Research Paper Topics

A Worn Path Symbolism essays discuss Eudora Welty’s 1941 short story.