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Analytical Essay Assignment -

Write an analytical essay, in which you offer an interpretation of a literary element in the assigned story "A Worn Path written by Eudora Welty". Write your analysis focusing on one of the following elements in the assigned short story "A Worn Path" - character, theme, symbolism, imagery, setting Brainstorm to identify the literary element that you would like to explore in the story. Choose from character, theme, symbolism, imagery, or setting. Then, develop a thesis that offers a specific interpretation of this element.


Answer - Title: Reflection on literary elements of "A Worn Path By Eudora Welty


The essay is the write-up of critical analysis of the Eudora's Welty story of " Worn path". The write-up works on to present the central theme of the story and explains the characters and their actions. This followed by a depiction of a range of literary elements in the write-up. The author employed a rich collection of literary elements in the story and they are well presented in the discussion along with a detailed illustration.

Keywords: Allusion, Simile, Metaphor, Irony.


"She walked slowly... moving a little side to side with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grandfather clock", indicates the central theme of the storyline(Wilty& Sarcone,1991). The central theme of the story and what the reader is going to find out in the story is visible and clear from this quote of the author. Phoenix Jackson walked all the way from her home in the country to a medical clinic in Natchez; during the course, she follows a worn and rugged path from the country to the city. The experiences she faced in the due course of time makes up the central theme of the story. Her experiences with the hunters, with wild birds, bushes, woods, wind, road and later with the staff of the hospital all make up a framework depicting her inherent strength, courage, endurance in getting her objective fulfilled(Ardolino,1976). Her love and sacrifice for her grandson are depicted in every part of the storyline. The following write-up details the literacy elements presented by the author in the storyline.


Overview of the Story

It is a routine biannual visit for Phoenix, she made along one and a half day walks to visit the clinic in Natchez. Author impressively said the path is a worn path, as she has traveled that route several times. Another coincidental fact is that the road is worn deep into the Mississippi landscape by centuries of travelers returning northeast after boating down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Author while speaking of her age, indicated that she is old enough at the times of the civil war for not going to school, by saying so expressed her approximate age and said old enough for not able to move on the journey. During the entire journey, the hallucinations of different experiences like a ghost facing her, a boy offering a piece of cake, the apprehensions of bushes, thrones, hibernated snakes, etc consistently gave an indication of the type of the severe mental, physical and moral efforts required for her to complete the journey. The author indicated the spirit and happiness in her character, with the will-power and persistence embodied in her, when she realized the wild crow instead of a ghost, she felt happy that as she did not meet the death. Similarly the dance and merry she exhibited that time, the pleasure extracted by her at different times of journey indicate the depth of her character. The author successfully portrayed the strength and depths of her character decently. Her interactions with the hunter, her attempts to safeguard the quails and other birds that she came across on the road from the hunter all magnify the true goodness of her character and especially the true courage in contrast to the foolish bravado of the hunter. Further her persistent efforts to get the things done are reflected in her patience while visiting in the clinic for the concerned people to respond. They did not treat her well, as they think she is the case of charity. But she calmly suffered the humiliation, also when she momentarily forgets the reason why she has come to visit the location after sighting the site. Further her stubbornness for her thoughts and conscious shown, while rejected the offer of few pennies by one of the workers of the clinic. She very vehemently said as she wants a nickel, she is very sure of what she wants and why. She wanted to purchase a pinwheel for her grandson; she assumed that she will bring joy and happiness to the kid(Bartel.1977).


Literacy Elements

Author symbolically titled the story as a worn path. This title is based on numerous inferences from the story. At the outset, it is true that the path is worn, as Phoenix has used that route several times in the past. Also historically due to the usage of travelers for several hundreds of years the road is worn deep into the Mississippi landscape. The inner conscious of goodness and courage is exhibited by Phoenix at different times of her travel along the way. The feeling of humane like guilt exhibited by Phoenix when she picked up the nickel dropped by the Whiteman when helping her up. At every instant of the story, the author meticulously describes the heroic journey of a woman on the adventurous roads. However, still, the key aspect of the story is that the woman does not know her inherent heroism. Author Welty has used very simple and lucid style to present her storytelling, this in fact made the odyssey of Phoenix Jackson, more effective and poignant. Some important literary elements are irony at the end of the story, after reaching the end of the difficult journey; Phoenix forgets the sole intention of her visit to the clinic. The worn path followed by Phoenix is used to indicate symbolism, wherein she continuously used her unconditional, continuing love and commitment to her grandson in spite of the fact that the route is too arduous, dangerous to her own life. She followed that route again and again out of love and sacrifice. A literacy element of External conflict is extensively employed by the author along the storylines. In the entire way of her travel, there is a clear depiction of her efforts to overcome the physical environment and obstacles from the cold, stream, the fence, the scarecrow etc. Also at the end of the journey, she faced conflict with the staff of the clinic in terms of their arrogance and indifference to her. Internal conflict is also depicted in terms of endurance shown by Phoenix while facing the humiliation of the woman in the clinic; Jackson just faced the humiliation due to the reason that she needs the soothing medicine for her grandson. The symbolism of the internal conflict is indicated by the author by saying that the muscles in her face are twitching while receiving the humiliation from the staff of the clinic(Saunders, 1992).


There is an allusion in naming the lead role as Phoenix, which is a mythical bird name, which rises again and again after consuming by fire. Perhaps the author wants to show that allusion with the love and sacrifice of Phoenix Jackson, while indicating her attempts to get the medicine for her grandson inspite of the arduous path and her old age. Metaphors like "she walked slowly moving a little side to side with a balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grandfather clock". As she is old her footing is unsure and wavering while moving on the road. Imagination is at its peak in the story draft, "The sun made the pine needles almost too bright to look at, upwhere the wind rocked. The canes dropped as light as feather" depicts the extremes of imagination in the storylines. A simile is employed to indicate how the old woman moving like "her knees and stretching her fingers like a baby trying to climb the steps". Alliterations are employed like in the statements. "She smelled wood-smoke, she smelled the river, and she saw a steeple and the cabins on their steep steps(Bartel,1977)."


Eudora Welty employed a unique simple style in the story, the draft and write-up are presented with great simplicity but yet with a style that can pierce the heart of any reader. The story theme and characters will provide a good and lasting experience for any reader. The word titles and the literary elements used in the story are rich with variety and the author experimented with a wide collection of the literary elements in small story span, but still, Welty is successful in making the right impact over the readers.


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