Term Paper: Worn Path by Eudora Welty

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¶ … Worn Path

Old Phoenix in Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path"

The metaphorical language of "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty is evident first and foremost in the main protagonist's name. Old Phoenix suggests not just the character's age, but her resilience. The phoenix was a mythical beast that rose from the dead. It revitalized itself not by relying upon others, but by burning itself, to create something new. It was also thought to have healing properties. This metaphor reflects the plot of the short story. Old Phoenix, despite her great age, has traveled many miles to get medicine for her sick grandson. Despite the lack of confidence in the doctor and the nurse that her son will live, Phoenix is certain that he is still waiting for her at home.

The people at the hospital, except for the attendant who gives her a few pennies, do not respect Old Phoenix; they merely note her in their records as a 'charity' case. To the reader who has followed the old woman's saga through her long trek by foot on a cold December night, this word 'charity' hardly seems to adequately sum up her character or her case. Even her grandson is likely too young to appreciate her sacrifice. The doctor and the nurse seem unsurprised by her long walk, they only see her poverty. Even Old Phoenix ends the story by marveling that she is "going to the store and buy my child a little windmill they sells, made out of paper. He going to find it hard to believe there such a thing in the world."

Old Phoenix does not understand that she is a marvel, to have survived for so long, to still be able to work hard, and to still be able to act unselfishly. The doctor seems to unintentionally memorialize her when he says: "She doesn't come for herself." Phoenix never thinks of herself, only of others. Through her actions, the author suggests that Old Phoenix is not really a charity case -- all she needs is a little… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Worn Path by Eudora Welty.  (2007, November 24).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/worn-path-eudora-welty/1478

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"Worn Path by Eudora Welty."  24 November 2007.  Web.  7 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/worn-path-eudora-welty/1478>.

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"Worn Path by Eudora Welty."  Essaytown.com.  November 24, 2007.  Accessed December 7, 2019.