A Study Guide to Eudora Weltys A Worn Path (Short Stories for Students)

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The climax occurs when Phoenix recovers from a memory lapse and discusses her grandson's condition with the nurse. At this time, the reader understands the purpose of her journey to Natchez and that she regularly makes this journey out of love for the child.


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Though quite old and suffering from infirmities, Phoenix Jackson regularly walks a long distance to obtain medicine for her grandchild. Even in cold weather, when the frozen earth is slippery, she makes the trip.

What is A Worn Path About and Why Should I Care?

Her journey—the worn path she follows—demonstrates her love for the child. Phoenix Jackson's walk to Natchez demonstrates her will to persevere in a sometimes hostile world. On her way to Natchez, she must endure the cold, keep her footing on frozen ground, crawl under a barbed-wire fence, walk through the maze of a cornfield, and watch out for dangerous animals such as wild hogs.

An unfriendly dog threatens her and she falls into a ditch. But her occasional journey to Natchez is only a small part of her story. Every day, she must deal with poverty and the pains of old age, care for a child with a scarred throat, and confront the evil of racial prejudice—a fact of life in Mississippi and elsewhere in the U.

Racial Prejudice. Phoenix Jackson must endure racial prejudice as part of her everyday life.

A Worn Path: Analysis

The story does not explicitly focus on this theme, but it does include it. Consider that the white hunter refers to her condescendingly as Granny. The narrator does not reveal the race of the shopper, the attendant, and the nurse. However, they are likely white, for they also treat her condescendingly. The shopper calls her Grandma , and the nurse calls her Aunt Phoenix.

It is interesting to note, though, that the people she encounters do treat her with a modicum of respect and kindness—a sign perhaps that America is making gradual progress in race relations.

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But not until the civil-rights movement of the fifties, sixties, and seventies did blacks gain all their rights under the law. Phoenix Jackson is a Christlike figure, providing opportunities for others to do good deeds that will help to redeem their souls. For example, after attempting to drive off the black dog, Phoenix falls into a ditch.

Along comes a white hunter. He helps her out of the ditch, just as Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus to stay on his feet under the weight of the cross. In Natchez, Phoenix asks a woman carrying wrapped Christmas presents to tie her shoes. The woman puts the packages down and complies. In the doctor's office, the attendant treats Phoenix rudely but ends up giving her a nickel as a Christmas present. A nickel could buy much more in than it can today.

ISBN 13: 9781375400688

Phoenix Jackson's humorous remarks to herself, animals, and nature help keep the story moving briskly. The following passage contains examples:. Following are examples of figures of speech in the story. Publisher: Gale, Study Guides , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

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