The short story I read “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, is the tale of the unstoppable love and care of a grandmother for her grandson. It tells a story of determination of Phoenix Jackson “an elder Negro woman” and how she walks a journey through the woods and fields on her way to town to get medicine for her chronically ill grandson. As she 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” (Welty 306), because as she says, “I got a long way” (Welty 306). She has taken several times before, and now “The time come around”(Welty 309), and she must travel it again. “Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin has a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles” (Welty 306). “She was very old and small and she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, moving a little from side to side in her steps, with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grandfather clock” (Welty 306).
The description of Phoenix Jackson and how she is walking through her journey at the beginning of the story symbolizes how difficult this trip is for her and what she is facing as an elderly woman such as herself for her unstoppable love and care of her grandson. She supports herself with a cane, striving not to fall with every step she takes just adds to her difficulties. Phoenix is determined to go down that path despite anything that might come between her and getting the medicine for her grandson.
Her actions and desire show that body may be worn out, but the attitude that she takes and desire that she has for the crying hand of her grandson are n! ot. First, she has to face an uphill climb. Then, she goes downhill but soon finds herself tangled with a bush. She response to the bush saying “Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass no sir. Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush” (Welty 307), and manages to free herself from the thorn bush. During the journey she walks across a log with her eyes closed, which is as daring as it comes in the journey.
After words Phoenix has a little bit of humor for herself and tells herself “I wasn’t as old as I thought” (Welty 307). Throughout the story, she has signs of senility and delusions including her meeting of a scarecrow, which she initially thinks, is a man. At one point of the journey she sits down to rest “when a little boy brought her a plate with a slice of marble-cake on it” (Welty 307). When old Phoenix reaches “to take it there was just her own hand in the air” (Welty 307), and nothing else around. Not to long after a bush a stray cur (dog) startles Phoenix and she falls into a ditch.
At that point she is placed in the story to down point, where she trapped and helpless with only her love and desire that still strives in motion. Eventually, a hunter comes along and helps her get up. He also tries to prevent her from finishing her journey by telling Phoenix that her journey is to far and then tells her “Now go home, Granny! ” (Welty 309), and even tries to scare her with his gun. At that point the man says, “you must be a hundred years old, and scared of nothing… you take my advice and stay home, and nothing will happen to you” (Welty 309).
The words from the hunter and the flash of his gun still does not overpass the desire of Phoenix, and having her grandson as a reason to keep going to give up. When Phoenix reaches her destination, the reason for her mission is given. When she enters “the big building”, evidently a medical facility, she doesn’t speak and appears disoriented. A nurse recognizes her and inquires about her grandson who swallowed lye two to three years ago. She asks, “He isn’t dead, is he? ” Phoenix responds with, “No missy, he not dead, he just the same. ” She tells the nurse “he not able to swallow.
He not get his breath. So the time come around, and I go on another trip for the soothing medicine. ” Phoenix Jackson encounters many adversities along her journey, but somehow manages to get through them. Her perseverance in the face of tremendous obstacles is admirable considering her age and declining health. This story reminds the reader over and over that she truly loves her grandson, and that she is determined to overcome any obstacle to achieve her goal. The only thing that keeps her from giving up is the love she has for him and the fact that all they have in this world is each other.