Everyday people encounter challenges that stand in their way of achieving their goals, but with sheer determination most accomplish their mission. In the short story “A Worn Path” written by Eudora Welty, Phoenix Jackson, the main character, has a mission to complete while confronting many challenges. One way to convey this idea is with the literary use of theme. The theme of a literary work is defined as the central idea, concern or message about life that an author wishes to convey to his/her readers. There can be more than one theme in a literary work. One of the major themes in Eudora Welty’s short story “A Worn Path” is the sheer determination that Phoenix Jackson conveys via her actions. This short story centers on the challenges faced by an elderly African-American grandmother, as she makes her long journey from the secluded pinewoods into the nearby town of Natchez in order to get the needed medicine for her ailing grandson. This is a journey that Phoenix has taken before and now must travel it again. She begins her journey on a bright, cold morning in December and walks ever so carefully with her “small cane made from an umbrella…tapping on the frozen earth in front of her” (1). Just like Phoenix Jackson, this story’s main character, most people find their way through challenges, time after time, because of their strong sense of determination.
One of the first challenges that Phoenix encounters along her journey is the wild animals of the woods. Phoenix does not want anything, even “mother nature” preventing her from accomplishing her mission. As Phoenix Jackson begins her journey, she talks to herself and warns:
Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and wild animals!...Keep out from under these feet, little bob-whites…Keep the big wild hogs out of my path. Don’t let none of those come running my direction. I got a long way. (1)