A WORN PATH: Theme A Worn Path is a short story about an old African? American woman, Phoenix Jackson, and her journey through the woods into town. It is a fiction story set in Mississippi during the 1940s. The author presents the themes of the story from the symbol of the journey itself as well as all the obstacles and encounters the main character faces throughout her journey. There are several themes that have been portrayed in the story. The main theme that I have noticed during my reading is racism.
Other minor themes are responsibility, love, guilt and resurrection. Racism was portrayed by the author through Phoenix’s brief encounters on her journey with the Southern whites. A white hunter helps her out of a ditch but patronizes her and belittles the purpose of her journey by laughing and saying “I know you old colored people! Wouldn’t miss going to town to see Santa Claus! ” (117). He also bullies her by pointing his loaded gun at her and asking, “Doesn’t the gun scare you? ” (117).
Through these conversations, the author shows how some whites regarded blacks.
Another way that the author depicts the relationships between the two races is in the way the hunter calls her “Granny,” or the nurse calls her “aunt” which were terms commonly used for older African? American women by whites. I learnt that during that time, whites would often call older blacks “Aunt,” “Granny,” or “Uncle” as a way of denying them their dignity which in turn demonstrates the subtle persecutions that blacks suffered in a white community.
Also according to my understanding, another theme that the author wanted to illustrate is the sense of love and responsibility Phoenix Jackson had toward her grandson.
The sentiment was mainly due to the fact that she is the only person her grandson has to rely on. That was made clear when Phoenix tells the nurse, “We is the only two left in the world” (117), and thus she is determined to make it to town to obtain the medicine that will relive his injured throat. Her sense of responsibility and compassion towards her grandson gives her the strength and stamina to overcome many obstacles such as her senility, poor eyesight, and also her difficulty in walking especially through the woods in a cold December morning.
Phoenix also demonstrates her focus and determination of achieving her goal with a sense of urgency to the hunter: she tells the hunter: “I bound to go to town, mister…. The time come around” (117). Another minor theme that came clear to me in the short story was the feeling of guilt. Phoenix feels guilty when she picks up the nickel that falls from the white hunter’s pocket. I came to understand her feeling from what she told the hunter when the hunter pointed his loaded gun towards her, “I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done” (117).
By saying those words it indicates that she believes that she deserves to be shot for her actions. It shows a deep sense of guilt especially because she knows that the hunter has lied to her, claiming that he does not have any money and he would give her if he had any. According to my knowledge, the name Phoenix was carefully selected by the author in order to point to the theme of resurrection in the story. The phoenix was the bird in ancient mythology that rose from its own ashes every 500 years to begin a new life cycle.
Phoenix Jackson’s periodical journey into town relates to the mythical creature in a sense that she continually and ritually rises up to complete her journey. In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading and analyzing this short story by Eudora Welty. The above mentioned were just a few of the main themes in the story, and I am sure that there are many more underlying themes. Work Cited Welty, Eudora. “A Worn Path”. Literature: An Introduction to reading and writing, 9th Edition. New York. Longman, 2009. 114-19.