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As she walks, she struggles against intense fatigue and poor eyesight, as well as such obstacles as thorn bushes and barbed wire.
While much of the story's substance rests on the imagistic and symbolic use of language, the action of the plot also shows Phoenix in direct conflict with the outside world—a society run by white people who have little respect or understanding for her situation. "Phoenix encounters not mere difficulty on her path, but evil," argues Daly.] Neither Neil D. Jones in their recent articles [Isaacs, "Life for Phoenix," Sewanee Review, Vol. SOURCE: "They Endured': Eudora Welty's Negro Characters," in A Season of Dreams: The Fiction of Eudora Welty, Louisiana State University Press, 1965, pp. [In the following excerpt, Appel argues that " 'A Worn Path ' is an effort at telescoping the history of the Negro woman. One of my most successful assignments concerns the nickel episode of Eudora Welty's story "A Worn Path," which is included in many literature textbooks. [In the following essay, Saunders surveys various critical interpretations of "A Worn Path, " emphasizing the story's ambiguous meaning and exploring its thematic affinities with other works of fiction.] Of all the ingenious stories written by Eudora Welty over the past half century, it is perhaps "A Worn Path" that is most intriguing in terms of its ability to defy simple explanation.
A man hunting in the forest assumes that she is going to town merely "to see Santa Claus," while a nurse dismisses her as a "charity" case and offers little sympathy for the plight of Phoenix's sick grandson. [In the following essay, Daly responds to interpretations of Phoenix Jackson's character offered by critics Neil D. " He examines the role of folk tradition and religious faith in the story.] "Pageant of Birds," "Ida M'Toy," and the stories, "The Burning," "Livvie," and "A Worn Path," suggest that Miss Welty has a special sympathy and respect for the Southern Negro woman and that, like writers as various as Faulkner and James Baldwin, she seems to feel that the Negro's endurance in the South has had much... [In the following review, Trefman argues that the protagonist's name, Phoenix, has Christian, as well as mythological, significance.] In his discussion of Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path," (Explicator, June, 1957), William Jones identifies the central character, Old Phoenix, with the legendary bird of Egyptian folklore. [In the following essay, Bartel responds to standard critical interpretations of Phoenix Jackson's character in "A Worn Path, " noting "What concerns me about these discussions is that they treat Phoenix Jackson as a stereotype and allow the obvious archetypal significance of her name and her journey to overshadow the uniqueness of one of the most memorable women in short fiction."] I have found Saralyn Daly's interpretation of "A Worn Path" to be basically sound [Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. "The Naturals: Eudora Welty," in Savages and Naturals: Black Portraits by White Writers in Modern American Literature, University of Delaware Press, 1982, pp. [In the following excerpt, Cooley examines Welty's portrayal of Phoenix Jackson and argues that "what is ultimately so disturbing about 'A Worn Path' is its very innocence and beauty. [In the following essay, Walter briefly surveys critical interpretations of "A Worn Path " and offers a reading of Phoenix Jackson's character, focussing in particular on the significance of her faith.] Phoenix Jackson, the protagonist of Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path," is first described as coming along a path through pinewoods far out in the country near the Natchez Trace: SOURCE: "A Nickel and Dime Matter: Teaching Eudora Welty's 'A Worn Path'," in Notes on Mississippi Writers, Vol. The passage is an excellent test of a student's ability to see how facts can be fitted into... frequently falsifies Welty's portrayals of black-white relations in earlier eras. [In the following essay, Orr perceives Welty's implicit examination of the writing process itself in the text of "A Worn Path," and argues that the reader is challenged "both to unlearn and to relearn, that is, to enter the process of creation. In a relatively early essay entitled "Life for Phoenix" [Sewanee Review, Vol.
Cooley, in contrast, argued for a broader social reading of the story, criticizing the sentiment of the work and accusing Welty of failing to "develop her racial portraits with sufficient sensitivity or depth." Nancy K. [In the following review, Jones examines the ways in which "deeper meaning" is contained in the apparently simple language and structure of "A Worn Path.
Butterworth responded to Cooley's assessment and others with the observation that "[s]uch polemical demythologizings conflict with Welty's persistent refusal to use fiction as a platform, particularly for political or sociological issues, as well as her downplaying and even disavowal of racial implications in her stories." SOURCE: "Welty's 'A Worn Path'," in The Explicator, Vol. "] Unlike many of Eudora Welty's stories, "A Worn Path" has a deceptively uncomplex organization. [In the following essay, Isaacs examines how plot, setting, and Christian motifs contribute to multiple layers of meaning in "A Worn Path.
Christian symbolism is also apparent in the narrative.
For example, the fact that the story is set during the Christmas season has led some critics to associate Phoenix's journey with that of a religious pilgrimage; her selfless concern for her grandson is interpreted as representing the true spirit of giving and self-sacrifice. XV, June 1957] has succeeded in completely explicating Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path." Both comment on the associations brought to mind by the first name of Phoenix Jackson... [In the following essay, Robinson focuses on a particular scene in "A Worn Path" that is open to a variety of interpretations and evaluates the plausibility of each.] Since I believe writing and reading are allied skills, I like to give essay assignments that involve careful reading.For example, she mistakes a scarecrow for a dancing "ghost" until she draws close enough to touch its empty sleeve.A particularly tense episode occurs when she encounters a white hunter who appears friendly at first, but then makes a condescending suggestion that she is probably "going to town to see Santa Claus." When he inadvertently drops a nickel, Phoenix distracts him and manages to pick it up, feeling that she is stealing as she does so.Because the story is completely free of authorial intrusion or explanatory commentary, the images and events that occur in the narrative remain open to a variety of reader interpretations. ." The note of simplicity thus struck is the keynote of Eudora Welty's artistic design in the story. SOURCE: A review of "A Worn Path" in The Explicator, Vol. Her arduous journey from her home, far out in the country, to the town of Natchez to help her ailing little grandson, is a journey of love, Jones suggests, that causes her own rejuvenation at its end. [In the following essay, Ardolino attempts "to demonstrate that along with the Christian motifs of rebirth, the cycles of natural imagery presented create the theme of life emerging from death [in 'A Worn Path']."] Although most critics of "A Worn Path" noting the story's careful blending of pagan myth, Christian allusion and folk story motifs have praised Eudora Welty's allusive technique of reinforcing meanings on the story's several levels of perception, they have nevertheless been divided in their assessment of its overall... "] "A Worn Path" has received a fair amount of critical attention, most of it presuming that Eudora Welty intended her protagonist, Aunt Phoenix Jackson, to be "a symbol of the immortality of the Negro's spirit of endurance," as Alfred Appel puts it [in A Season of Dreams: The Fiction of Eudora Welty, 1965]. SOURCE: "Love's Habit of Vision in Welty's Phoenix Jackson," in Journal of the Short Story in English, No. SOURCE: "From Civil War to Civil Rights: Race Relations in Welty's 'A Worn Path'," in Eudora Welty: Eye of the Storyteller, edited by Dawn Trouard, The Kent State University Press, 1989, pp. [In the following essay, Butterworth argues that "recent revisionist criticism . " Butterworth emphasizes the ambiguity that characterizes Welty's treatment of racial themes.] Since such seminal studies as Robert Penn Warren's "The Love and Separateness in Miss Welty" and Harry Morris's "Eudora Welty's Use of Mythology," it has become traditional to interpret Welty's characters in... " She further notes that "the story plays upon our 'knowledge ' of 'others ' to resist the 'wornness' of old scripts."] Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path," first published in 1941, is one of her most widely read stories. SOURCE: "'A Worn Path': The Eternal Quest of Welty's Phoenix Jackson," in The Southern Literary Journal, Vol. 71, 1963], Neil Isaacs manages to conclude that "the whole... Reprints in one volume the most significant critical essays on Welty's short fiction. "Phoenix Jackson and the Nice Lady: A Note on Eudora Welly's 'A Worn Path'." American Notes & Queries XVII, No. Examines the thematic significance of a specific episode in which Phoenix Jackson asks "a nice lady" to tie her boot laces. "'A Worn Path': The Way of Dispossession." Studies in Short Fiction 16, No. Critical Reception Critical discussion of "A Worn Path" largely has been concerned with thematic interpretation of the work, particularly the story's racial, mythological, and Christian motifs. ," "Her name was Phoenix Jackson," "She was very old and small. For it is a simple story (a common reaction is "simply beautiful"). SOURCE: "'A Worn Path' Retrod," in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. But perhaps her association with the Phoenix has even... SOURCE: "Life and Death in Eudora Welty's 'A Worn Path'," in Studies in Short Fiction, Vol. SOURCE: '"Unsettling Every Definition of Otherness': Another Reading of Eudora Welty's 'A Worn Path'," in South Atlantic Review, Vol. SOURCE: "Gothic Space as Narrative Technique," in Gothic Traditions and Narrative Techniques in the Fiction of Eudora Welty, Louisiana State University Press, 1994, pp. [In the following excerpt, Weston examines evidence of the Gothic tradition in "A Worn Path."] It is not nature that is the spirit of healing in "A Worn Path," but human love and endurance, in spite of a world that might seem Gothic to those less grounded in reality than is Phoenix Jackson. The story’s author sets a picture in your head first, “The setting is rural, a cold, early morning in December in the South.” (Cited in Clugston, 2010) The main character is a Negro woman that is an old lady and has been through many life situations. The sun made the pine needles almost too bright to look at, up where the wind rocked. Down in the hollow was morning dove- it was not too late for him.” )Cited in Clugston, 2010, “A Worn Path”, para.The story uses settings to establish many points for the theme and details of wagon tracks used to tell us she is following a familiar path. The author uses great symbolism “The use of symbolic characters throughout the story is explained.The author provides a critical interpretation and offers different meaning behind several elements.” (Cited in Clugston, 2010) Phoenix is faced with getting old and losing her mind, she is very afraid of it, but still carries on with the strength of God with her.She then apologizes, claiming that her memory had suddenly failed her—that for a moment, she could not remember why she had made her long journey.The story concludes with Phoenix's heartfelt description of her grandson, whose throat was injured several years ago when he swallowed lye.