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Determination and will-power play a major role in relation to people, who seek to achieve their goals and accomplish the tasks they are given. A person possessing these two qualities is very motivated and focused; he/ she will not refuse from anything easily and is determined along with many other factors. Determination is the act of making a decision or setting a purpose, whereas will-power means the strength and will to accomplish these decisions and plans. The female protagonist of the short story “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, Phoenix, carries the meaning of these words through the entire masterpiece. The title has a very symbolic meaning. Eudora Welty uses setting and color symbolism to demonstrate the perseverance and determination of Phoenix during her life journey, as well as her thoughts and perceptions in terms of African American equality after the Civil War.
People face many problems in their lives, and everyone reacts differently to various situations. Eudora Welty is an excellent example of this statement in her short story “A Worn Path”. Phoenix Jackson is an old and underprivileged woman, who has passed through many different settings while going to the town. Welty uses her image to represent the colored people who struggle for freedom. The author describes Welty’s clothes to emphasize the issue of slavery in the South, “a red rag” and “a dark striped dress” (Welty 212). The blood of slaves is represented by the red rag. Phoenix lives in a place, where equality is the decisive factor. Race is a very important element of the social hierarchy, and this is clearly shown in “A Worn Path”. Phoenix faces many blocks during her journey, but they do not stop her, as she wants to reach the goal set for her at that time. Phoenix Jackson encompasses many visible changes, as she goes through the pine trees, crosses the creek, and while sitting near the doctor's office. She has the direction, and she struggles along her pathway. She goes in a manner that makes her walk faster, probably a little faster than she used to. She needs to come back home before the sun goes down, with the drugs for her little sick grandson.
The story covers both mental and physical obstacles on Phoenix’s way, but she overcomes them all. Her body is depicted as “very old and small”; such a journey would have been hard for most people and nearly impossible for the main character (Welty 314). However, she has the purpose and ingenuity to overcome obstacles in any situation. At once, when the only way over a stream is across a fallen tree, she “mounted the log and shut her eyes” (Welty 315). Phoenix gets through the hindrances, ignoring the dangers around her with pure faith. She uses a different method when she encounters what she thinks is a specter. The woman confronts the situation, instead of closing her eyes, and asks, “… who be you the ghost of?” (Welty 316). When Phoenix realizes the apparition to be a scarecrow, she admits to herself, “My senses is gone. I too old, I the oldest people I even know” (Welty 316). She stops to warn foxes and other animals to stay out of her way, “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. Don’ let none of those come running my direction. I got a long way (Welty 389). Phoenix realizes that she has to finish what she has set out to do. Understandably, in this way, the author illustrates how the protagonist hopes that one day African Americans will have a chance to get the document of freedom “stamped with the gold seal and framed in the gold frame”(Welty638). Phoenix can go an extra mile to make sure that her dear grandson recovers. The heroine does everything for her grandson not only because she cares for him, however because she loves him.
Phoenix has met many hardships during her journey to the town, and one of them is going through the thorn bush. When the main character goes down the trail, the thorns of the bush always catch her dress. She knows and understands that the bush is an obstacle, and it tries to keep her from reaching the point of destination. Phoenix shows determination in trying to accomplish the goal she has set. These situations show that nothing can stop the woman from doing what she has to do. The writer uses an abundance of symbols, but all of them are connected to the journey. The journey on the worn path is a specific symbol used by the writer to describe the painful fight for freedom that African Americans have won. Old Phoenix symbolizes African Americans who struggled for their rights. Old Phoenix’s grandson is a symbol of their future. Medicine symbolizes African Americans’ faith.
In conclusion, Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path” conveys the hardships and ideas of her life. This path shows the movement from slavery to a life of freedom. A lot of African Americans have walked along this path, and it is sad to realize what they have got through. Everyone goes through life hardships; someone easily overcomes various life obstacles, while others may find it very difficult to cope with troubles. Nevertheless, these obstacles help people to achieve something valuable in life.