A Worn Path Summary And Important Questions

A Worn Path Summary And Important Questions
A Worn Path Summary And Important Questions

A Worn Path

-Eudora Welty

Summary Of A Worn Path:

A Worn Path is a controlled story of unconscious heroism written by American novelist and short story writer Eudora Welty. This story describes the long, dangerous and difficult journey made by an old negro woman, Phoenix Jackson to the city of Natchez to bring some medicine for her grandson.

In a cold December morning an old Negro woman Phoenix Jackson began her journey through the pine forest. She was carrying a cane made from umbrella to support herself in her long journey. Warning the wild animals to get out of her way, she reached to the top of the hill and looked back at the way she had just come from. Then, she started climbing down the hill through oak trees. Freeing her clothes from the thorny bushes she reached to the bottom of the hill. There was a creek and a log laid across it. She crossed the creek with the help of her cane and rested for a while under a big tree. She had a dream of a boy coming to her holding a plate with cake on it. Then, she crawled along the barbed wired fence and reached to the field of cotton. In the cotton filed, she was reminded of her encounter with a bull and two headed snake. Then, she reached to the field of dead corn where she was frightened by a scarecrow supposing it to be a ghost. Facing all these difficulties and dealing with each of them successfully finally, she reached to a wagon track.

Phoenix Jackson continued her journey through the swampy part of the forest, drinking some water from a spring flowing through a hollow log. In the swampy part of the forest, she had an encounter with a wild dog. While she was trying to hit it with her cane, she fell into a ditch. After some time she was rescued by a white hunter, out of the ditch. When she saw a nickel coin fall out of the white man’s pocket, she put it into her own. But immediately she realized her guilt, thinking that she was being watched by the god. Then they went to different directions.

As it was Christmas time the city of Natchez was decorated with colourful lights. While walking on the street of Natchez, she asked a lady to lace up her shoes. Finally, she entered a stony building. When she saw a document framed with golden frame and seal nailed on the wall she realized that she was in the doctor’s office. The attendant in the clinic asked her several questions but she didn’t respond to her because she have forgotten the purpose of her journey. After she came back to consciousness, she explained that her grandson was suffering from throat problem, ever since he has swallowed lye (ash) and his condition was still the same. Then, she was given some medicine by the nurse and a nickel by the attendant. Thinking of buying a windmill for her grandson with this money, she started her journey back.

Bringing medicine for her grandson, overcoming all these obstacles is really a heroic act. Though, she was performing something, she was not aware of it. She carries out such her act in the unconscious state of her mind. Therefore, A Worn Path is a controlled story of unconscious heroism.

Some Important Questions Of “A Worn Path”:

Question. In Egyptian mythology the Phoenix was a bird of great Splendour that every five hundred years consumed itself by fire and rose renewed from its own ashes. In what way Phoenix Jackson is like the bird?

Answer.Phoenix Jackson resembles the bird of Egyptian mythology, Phoenix in the following ways.

  • Both of them have long span of life. The bird lived for 500 years and the woman Phoenix Jackson was more than 100 years old. Thus, both of them have extra ordinarily long span of life.
  • Both of the woman and the bird were endowed (given) with great splendour. Like the bird, the woman was filled with extra ordinary energy in spite of her old age.
  • Both the bird and the woman continued their journey ahead after temporary pause. The bird continued its life out of its own ashes every 500 years. In the same way, Phoenix Jackson also continued her journey after losing her consciousness temporarily.

Question. Why does Phoenix keep talking to herself? What do her monologues add to the total portrait of her?

Answer. Phoenix Jackson keeps on talking to herself in order to avoid the monotony due to long and difficult journey. From her monologue, we come to know that she was determined, romantic and loving to wild birds and animals.

Question. What significance can you attach to the fact that journey takes place at Christmas time?

Answer. Phoenix Jackson makes her journey to the city of Natchez at Christmas. It is significant because she expected to get some present for her grandson from Santa Clause. She didn’t have enough money of her own to buy gift for her grandson. Therefore, she expected some charity from benevolent people at the time of Christmas.

Question. What is the meaning of the episode in which Phoenix steals the nickel? Does the act offend our sense of honesty? Explain your answer.

Answer. The episode, in which Phoenix Jackson steals a nickel, signifies the poor economic condition of Phoenix Jackson. Though, she was going to buy some medicine for her grandson , she was penny less. Therefore, she was compelled to steal the nickel. This act of Phoenix doesn’t offend our sense of honesty because she had stolen the money not for herself but saving the life of her grandson. Stealing for the purpose of saving someone’s life is justifiable.

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