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Symbolism In A Worn Path By Eudroa Welty

1300 words - 5 pages

“A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty is an interesting short story, full of symbolism. This story is about an old African American lady named Phoenix Jackson. The story does not directly tells us that she is old, but we know she is old because she forgets the reason why she went to the town. Welty writes about Phoenix’s journey through the woods of Mississippi to the town of Natchez to get medicine for her grandson. Along the way, Phoenix encounters several obstacles in her way, which have symbolism and on the things she says on her way to the town. Symbolism is shown on the obstacles she encounters on her way to the town. The obstacles show and represent racism for example on the big dead trees, cake, and mistletoe. In her story “A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty used symbolism to demonstrate that determination and will enabled Phoenix to survive in life no matter how difficult the struggle was.
The story shows that there could be still slavery or it has already passed, but we know that there is still racism. Slaves were escaping from their owners to free land where African American would be free. The town of Natchez Trace was an overland trail between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi. In the early 1800s, it was a "worn path", which promoted progress for the African American slaves. Her journey was along a "worn path," this means that she had walked this trip many times. This worn path is also symbolic for the pilgrimages made by all pilgrims who were on a quest, religious or otherwise, in all of history; the worn path is full of challenges and hardships along the way. The pilgrims were like the African salves because they also wanted to be free and do whatever they wanted to do. Many blacks probably wanted to go to Natchez to find their dreams and be free. Phoenix encounters many things on her way that symbolizes culture and how things used to be at her time.
There are symbols of slavery in this story by the obstacles she sees and says. Phoenix can barely negotiate the path, "Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far" (Welty). This quote is a symbol for the recent memory of slavery. This tells us that she used to be a slave and knows how hard those times were. Phoenix knows how chains feel on her feet because she probably had to be chained when she was a slave. She compares this because she is very old and can not walk more because she is tired of the walking. As she walks, she sees “Big dead trees”; this are be the black men from slavery. She encounters these trees after crawling under a barbed wire fence. Welty writes, “ Big dead trees, like black men with one arm, were standing in the purple stalks of the withered cotton field.” Welty uses the words black, withered, one arm, and cotton field. This shows the harsh times that Phoenix had to go through to become who she is today. The fact that the ‘black men’ have one arm conveys the idea of hardship, along with the withered cotton fields because slaves had to work...

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