A worn path by Eudora Welty


What makes the setting so important in the story "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty?

"It was December -- a bright frozen day in the early morning." This is how Ms. Welty starts her story. Could you guess by the first line that this story was going to be about some type of struggle? If you have read many of Eudora Welty?s stories, you will find that hardship in the South tends to be a topic she enjoys relaying to her readers. This first line is but one of many references to the setting of "A Worn Path".

In my opinion, Ms. Welty uses the setting in this story not only to convey how hard the trip is for Phoenix Jackson but also how life was in the South. It could also reference the many struggles of black Americans in the early 1900?s. For example, the Civil Rights movement was a long and Worn Path. Did the Author know that the hardships of life during the early 1900?s would also mirror the hardships that we all experience today? I would imagine the answer to that question is that life is what you make it! If old Phoenix Jackson had not cared so much for her little grandson, she would have given up the long trip to town a long time ago. But because she loved her grandson very much, she made regular trips down the worn path. The hardships she came across along the way made her life more interesting. As the Author writes in the story, old people talk to themselves. The trips down the worn path give Phoenix many things to talk to her self about during the long journey. The exercise keeps her strong and the love for her grandson keeps her on the right path.

This picture along with many others were taken by Eudora Welty in the 1930?s while she was traveling though some of the poorest parts of Mississippi. Old Phoenix Jackson lived off the Old Natchez Trace. So, this picture could be part of the path Phoenix had to travel in the story, "A Worn Path".

The Author describes a scene where Phoenix has to creep and crawl under a barbed-wire fence while always fearful of tearing her dress. I believe this is a parity to the hardship of life. In my life, there are times that seem easy and others feel just like creeping and crawling, trying not to get hurt or damage things too costly to replace along my way. I, like Phoenix, do not have the time or money for most of lives little surprises. When the worn path Phoenix was traveling started up hill, she refers to the feeling of chains being about her feet. The weight of daily decisions can make life's burden seem much heavier, just like climbing uphill. I find the similarities between the setting and occurrences in this story and our everyday lives most uncanny!

At one point in the story Phoenix speaks of going through a maze of corn and there was no path. In our day to day lives, we wonder along not always on a specific path. We like Phoenix have to stop and remember where we were headed or what we were about to do. The author shows this aspect of life well when Phoenix is asked about her little grandson. She has to stop, gather her thoughts, before the reason for her journey becomes clear. I believe that the journey is the point to the story! The setting, all the bumps in the road, the ditches we fall into, a torn dress on a thorny bush. That?s what makes life worth living. If the road was always a straight and even path, would it not become boring and trivial? Phoenix makes these trips regular. She does it for love. The fears, troubles, adventures along the way are a large part of her life. As in our lives, the journey is what life is all about.