Symbolism of the Title a Worn Path

Published: 2021-09-10 21:35:08
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Category: Symbolism, A Worn Path

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The short story, “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty describes a very interesting character whose name is Phoenix Jackson. She isn’t your average person. Phoenix is a very old and boring women but the story is still interesting. The title is very symbolic of the story and has a very good meaning. Throughout the story you begin to learn more and more about Phoenix and you also discover some important things. Phoenix Jackson is a very old and small woman. She wore a dark striped dress reaching down to her show tops. She also wore a long apron with a full pocket in the front. Her shoe laces were always untied.
Her eyes were blue and she wore a red rag over her head that hid black and grey hair. By looking at Phoenix you would assume that she moves at a very slow pace. That’s correct, when she walks; her chances of tripping are great because of her untied shoe laces. Just by the features of this old woman, the title already symbolizes Phoenix because she’s a worn old woman. Her appearance isn’t the only thing that’s worn, her life path is also. Phoenix has lived and gone through a lot during her lifetime. She’s been through the civil war, has lost a grandson, and has gone through times of slavery.
She’s experienced enough things in her life, so she isn’t really afraid of anything and does not care for much. These events in her life have caused her to being to lose her mind and go crazy. Example of this is in the beginning of the story when she first leaves her house. She says, “Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and wild animals! Keep out from under these feet. ”(page. 213) This shows that she’s losing her mind because she is talking to the animals. Later into the story she encounters a man with a gun.



The man said to her if the gun scared her. She replied, “No sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less then what I done. ”(page. 217) This, shows that she isn’t afraid of nothing and that she’s been through tons of scary experiences that an African American had to go through during her time. She is referring to the civil war and her times of slavery. The story never actually says that Phoenix has a grandson, but she claims that she does. This could also mean that she is going crazy. The “Worn Path” symbolizes Phoenix’s life and how worn and difficult it was.
Like Mentioned before, these experiences in Phoenix’s life also represents all African Americans. During the times she lived African Americans lives were very difficult. Problems they had were, slavery and even after it ended they were still having tough times adjusting to it. The rights of African Americans were not equal to white people and this also made things difficult for them. This makes you think if all African Americans from this era were like Phoenix. They’ve dealt with slavery and once slavery ended most were poor and were in poverty just like Phoenix Jackson.
She seemed to be losing her mind because of her age and experiences so this could have been an issue for a lot of blacks during this time. The story ends with Phoenix walking out of the doctor’s office waving her hand, giving a nod, and walking slowly down the steps and onto the road. This is ironic because you’re left with the image of her being very slow and her continuing to walk, on her “Worn Path”. The title has a positive and negative impact on the story. The positive side of it is the experience Phoenix has had during her “path” of life.
It has made her strong and very wise. She has lived through a lot of different life changing events that has changed the way she does things. The negative side to it is that the path of live she’s had may have made her strong but the events that have taken place has made her weak in many different ways. Going through slavery and the civil war can have traumatizing effects on the person. Phoenix in time seems to be suffering from dementia and she doesn’t really care for much anymore. Her memory has gone down the drain. The story explains how she walks very slowly.
This shows that going through slavery has taken a huge toll on her body. This is why the word “worn” is in the title and this is why it has more of a negative impact on the story. Welty’s title of the story really symbolizes and sums up the story. After reading the story the titles definitely makes more sense because you know and have an idea of what Phoenix had gone through. The Path means life and the worn part means the struggles of life. That’s exactly how Phoenix Jackson’s life was and for many African Americans during this time. Tons of hardships and struggles.

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