Symbolism In A Worn Path By Eudora Welty

1465 words - 6 pages

Symbolism is commonly used to provide imagery and detail to an object. It gives the reader a deeper understanding of what is going on. In football, animals, colors, and flag are used as symbols. For instance, animals and colors are used to show where the team is from and what their mascot is. Flags are used to give penalties to either team, and when a flag is thrown on the field, the crowd automatically knows that there has been a penalty. Colors in football usually go along with where the team is from. For example, when you see a grey and navy blue football team on your t.v, you know it’s the Dallas Cowboys. Other then football, colors can also symbolize motion. This can be seen when you are approaching a stop light; green means go, red means stop and yellow means slow down. Also the four seasons can symbolize different phases in our lives. Using symbolism in a story can better express what the author is trying to say. In ‘A Worn Path’, a manifold of symbols are used throughout.
In the story, Phoenix, an elderly woman with very little sight travels a path with various obstacles along the way. While on her journey she faces bumps along the road, including a white hunter, hallucinations, a scare crow, trees, and even a thorn bush. She is on her way to Natchez, a small town in Mississippi, to pick up medicine for her young grandson who swallowed lye when he was a child and needs medication to help his throat from pain. She arrives to the town of Natchez where she eyes a windmill in the window of a store. Once she’s arrived to the clinic and picks up the medication, a attendant gives her some change which she uses to buy her grandson the windmill for Christmas. After that, she is on her way on the same path, in which she will travel many more times to come in the future.


In Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path”, a manifold of symbols are used throughout. Phoenix, who is the main character in the story, is a symbol of the mythical bird. The name Phoenix itself symbolizes the mythical bird. According to Eudora Welty, “a golden color ran from underneath her branching wrinkles” and “the knobs of her cheeks of were illuminated by a burning under the dark” (1274); these are the colors of the mythical bird and symbolize how Phoenix’s appearance is similar to the bird.
Phoenix is also a symbol of endurance. Despite her elder age and her struggle, she manages to make it to her destination without stopping. In the story “A Worn Path” Welty declares that “then her slow step began on the way going down” (1281). Once again, Phoenix will endure a difficult task without giving up in order to help her grandson.
While on her journey, Phoenix came across a black dog which knocked her over into a ditch. Phoenix is unable to get out of the ditch, until a white man came along and lifted her up. The white hunter says “I know you old colored people wouldn’t miss going to town to see Santa Clause!” (1277) “His use of the...

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