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A Worn Path

A Worn Path essay due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?

The short story, “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty is filled with symbolism necessary to convey the message intended by the author.  This message is one of courage and dedication on the part of the main character, Phoenix Jackson, an old African American grandmother, on a journey to town for medicine for her grandson.  It is the symbolism, however, used by Welty, that takes this story to a higher level of distinction on the part of Jackson’s heroic characteristics.

Items that are examples of symbolism in a Worn Path by Phoenix Jackson are:

  • Coons
  • Beetles
  • Wild Hogs
  • Snakes
  • Scarecrows

Plot of a Warn Path by Jackson

A Worn Path

The story begins with the description of Phoenix Jackson aptly symbolized with various metaphors that express her age and her commitment to her task at hand.  For instance, “She was very old and small and she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, moving a little from side to side in her steps, with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grand-father clock.” . This use of symbolism is very direct in its approach of Jackson’s character, but as the story progresses, Welty begins to utilize symbolism in a more ambiguous way which makes the reader think about the message conveyed.

One such example is found in the following passage, “Putting her right foot out, she mounted the log and shut her eyes. Lifting her skirt, leveling her cane fiercely before her, like a festival figure in some parade, she began to march across. Then she opened her eyes and she was safe on the other side.”.  The symbolism in this excerpt reveals a sense of blind faith that Jackson’s character has about the world and her capabilities of managing in this world.  She never doubts that she will make it to her destination or that she will successfully return with medicine for her grandson.

Symbolism in A Warn Path

This clever use of symbolism continues as Jackson slowly makes the long journey to town.  She talks to the animals such as coons, beetles, and wild hogs scaring them away.  She speaks of the snakes, sleeping for the winter and the scarecrow as if it is a ghost.  The author uses these different obstacles as a symbolic representation of life’s journey and the way in which Phoenix Jackson relates to each object is almost as if through a haze representing perhaps the necessary way in which African Americans had to make their way through life during this period to survive the racial discrimination and hardship.

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