Today we will be talking about the different literary references used throughout Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path”. I will explain and decode different techniques used by the author throughout her story. The story is of an old southern African American woman, named Phoenix Jackson, making her way into to town to pick up her grandsons medication from the doctor’s office. But this is no normal old woman. She cannot see and is picking her way with a cane to make her way across a barrage of obstacles. Throughout her journey she comes upon different characters and situations, from these events we will draw our interpretations of the symbolism embedded within the tale.
The first thing I thought about after finishing the story was how routine the old woman’s trip to town was. The walk is described as a long dreaded walk through countless fields and an endless line of forest trees. In describing her routine I will point the different quotes and given situations that made me see a link to our societies circle of life. Her innocence can be seen as the representation of a child. As she walks she bends over and sips from a nearby stream she sensed, “sweet-gum makes the water taste sweet”. (A Worn Path, 1276) Here her curiosity also shows a strong relation between the child-old woman analogies.
I also thought of the use of an old African American woman, could be widely interpreted as the representation of minorities throughout society today, and then. Her encounter with the young white hunter with a leashed dog could be the representation of the majority amongst society. Another credible lead to the representation of minorities is the old woman noticing nothing but the nickel fall out of the white man’s pocket. You can clearly see the financial symbolism shown there; a clear representation of the majority, minority division.
As Phoenix Jackson makes her way across the fields, she falls into a ditch while getting bumped by a dog, after tapping it with her walking stick. This is when she encounters the young white hunter. As mentioned before Phoenix only notices a shiny nickel fall out the young man’s pocket. We start to notice the relation between the poor black woman, and the possibly wealthy white majority. Why is it that she only notices the nickel falling from the young white hunters pocket? She is supposed to be a blind old woman, but I get the impression that she may just be partially blind instead of completely.
Despite her age and obvious infinity she makes the difficult walk along the path, and overcoming any obstacle she might have came upon. But as mentioned earlier Phoenix is helped by other individuals along the way; for example the white hunter. If it wasn’t for that young hunter coming along she might have just staying laying there in the ditch for lord knows how long. I interpreted the help of the white hunter to the African American woman, as a correlation between the way our society is functioning, and always has. ...