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Overcoming The Odds In Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

1834 words - 7 pages



In the short story, "A Worn Path" Eudora Welty's plot is not all that clear in the beginning, but progresses as her character carries on against the overwhelming forces against her. In this short story a black elderly woman, Phoenix Jackson, must overcome the odds against her as she valiantly travels through many obstacles in order to contribute to the wellness of her grandson, for whom she is making this trip down "a worn path." It is at this point that all of Welty's readers' hearts open up to this poor, elderly woman as she makes an attempt to carry on her love for her grandson by taking a long journey down a familiar path in order to get medication that seems to help ease his sickness pains. However, there are many forces against Phoenix that Welty includes in her story in order to make Phoenix's adventure end in a victory. Poverty, old age, and her journey through the woods are all of the odds which Phoenix must overcome.

Poverty is a major hardship that most of us will never have to face, but in
Phoenix's case, poverty is present everyday in her and her grandson's life. Since she is
In this state of poverty, Phoenix is not able to enjoy life's luxuries as others do and
Must make do with what she can. As she begins her journey, it becomes clear that she lacks
the money to pay for transportation to and from town; therefore, she starts down her path
carrying a "thin, small cane made from an umbrella" (132). Although Welty never really
emphasizes what this is used for the reader can assume that she uses it because she does
not have the money to buy the actual cane needed to help her walk properly. Another
conflict dealing with poverty arouses when she feels it necessary to steal from a hunter
she encounters in the woods. While the hunter walks away her sneaky "fingers slid
down and along the ground under the piece of money with grace and care they would
have in lifting an egg from under a setting hen" (134). Here Welty shows that Phoenix
must do what she has to in order to survive. Even though it may not appear right, her
poverty forces her to act in a way that she only knows best. For instance, when people
have a barrier separating them between something they want, they are going to do what
they can to achieve their goal no matter what stands in their way. In this case Phoenix
is a poor woman and the money catches her eye. Acting on her instinct, she takes what is
not hers and hopes that she can get away with it. However, because of her perseverance
and determination to better the health of her grandson, Phoenix journeys into town to
receive charity that the doctor's office provides her. This "soothing medicine" they
give her is the reason why she makes this trip in the first place (136). However, she is
looked upon as a charity case since she has no money to pay for the medication he needs and is given the medicine for free. All of these examples that Welty has described in "A Worn Path" allow her story to...

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