Life Struggles of Phoenix in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path
"A Worn Path," by Eudora Welty is a heartbreaking story about the heroic trip of an old African American woman, Phoenix. The readers won't find out right away the plot of the story or why Phoenix won't give up her exhausting trip to town-the conflict of this story-especially on a very cold day. The title, "A Worn Path," indicates that Phoenix has obviously walked down this path many times before-also the fact that she can cross a creek with her eyes closed confirms the title's message.
Her trip is full of obstacles, from bushes of thorns that get caught in her dress, to her crossing of a creek. These elements complicate the conflict and increase the readers' curiosity about the plot. Phoenix can't trust her eyes, choosing instead to walk along with her eyes closed and sense her way with the help of her cane. While needed rest forces her to stop for a while, she has a vision of a little boy handing her a slice of marble cake. So many questions arise in the minds of the readers. Who was the little boy? Is she hallucinating? Is she senile? The readers sense that Phoenix had to endure long years of poverty after she picks up a nickel lost by a young man she meets in her trip. Have those years taken a toll on her overall health? Is it really worth taking the trip down the worn path? Even she admits, "something takes a hold of me on this hill-pleads I should stay" (Welty, 151). The young man, the scarecrow, the wild animals, even the mourning dove seem to also try to discourage her from continuing the trip.
As the readers follow Phoenix along the worn path, their respect for her character grows, as they witness the difficulties she encounters along the way. She sometimes talks out loud to objects, visions, or the wild life, which indicates that she is used to being alone most of the time. Although afraid of the wild animals, she continues her trip through the deep woods, up hill through pines, and down hill through oaks. Here, walking through the evergreen pine woods symbolizes her lost youth (when she's climbing up hill, she feels like she's wearing chains around...