Worn Path by Eudora Wetly


There is a short story called “A Worn Path” written by Eudora Welty that shows how far the body can be pushed, what the spirit must endure and the limits of our minds. It gives a very descriptive opening that helps paint a detailed mental image of the main character Phoenix Jackson. We find that given situations no matter how impossible they seem people can overcome great odds for people they care about.

There are many conflicts in this story for Phoenix from internal to external that she must face. In the second paragraph we are given a very good description so we understand what she is like physically. “ Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin

had a pattern all its own numberless branching wrinkles and as though a little tree stood in the middle of her forehead, but a golden color ran underneath,…”(pg 259 para2) You then find out a little about her mental state. She would say “ 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” (pg 259 para4). From these first few paragraphs you get the basic information that Phoenix Jackson is an older woman who likes to talk to nature or that there might be something different about her. Here we see how she has a conflict with nature.

You can’t help but feel sorry for Phoenix knowing that she is older and probably is in more danger being out in nature. The things that you might laugh at if it were somebody else, but with her you almost want to help her. For instance when she gets caught up in the bush she starts talking to the bush and then the thorns themselves. Yet again we are shown how she has troubles with reality. After she had crossed the log she had stopped for a rest. “ she did not dare to close her eyes, and when a little boy brought her a little plate with a slice of marble-cake on it she spoke to him.” Pg 260 Para 15. Only to find there was no boy there with cake. This is an internal conflict with her mind.

We next see how her age effects her journey when she’s comes upon the ghost. Which turns out to be just a scarecrow, yet another trick her old eyes play on her. Through this all we are able to experience another minor internal conflict. When she comes across the dog that ends up knocking her over and meets the man we find her first human external conflict. The man acts in a very rough manner towards Phoenix even pointing his gun at her. I thought that he might try to help her, but given the times maybe the fact he left her alone to go one her way was good enough.

We come to a point where the first part of her journey is almost over once she arrives at the clinic. She faces another internal conflict this time with her memory when she can’t recall why she came to the clinic. Once she regains her composure she is able to complete her mission of getting the medicine for her grandson. To go get a windmill and then begin her long trek back home. Phoenix had the determination to keep going even though she forgot why she was making such a long journey. She knew she had an end goal in mind and held on to the fact that she needed to make it to town.

Works Cited

” Madden Frank “Exploring Literature” pg259

Related Essays Short Stories