The literary point-of-view at work here is what is known as third-person limited perspective. Such a point-of-view facilitates the reader developing empathy for Phoenix because it is through her consciousness that all the events and discourse with other characters take place. The utilization of perspectives that provided less insight into the mind of Phoenix or expanded the point-of-view to allow the events to be seen through the eyes of additional characters would result in a far different tone entirely. At the same time, however, by choosing not to delve without obstruction into the mind of Phoenix, the limited third person experience also allows the reader to experience the journey of Phoenix along that worn path from just enough distance that it becomes possible to see her in the ways that other characters see her without the accompanying facilitation of empathizing with their perspective. The reader can figure out the particulars of point-of-view through such passages as:
In short, even if we are vastly different than someone, there are some universal struggles and emotions we can all say been there to. By incorporating these universal elements into Phoenix's story, "A Worn Path" makes it possible for us to see the world from the perspective of someone who might appear totally foreign at first glance. And being able to step into someone else's shoes and explore life from that vantage point are among the coolest things about reading good literature.
The gift is something that harnesses nature into both energy and beauty—it is something that represents hope, that maybe, just maybe, will help spur her grandson to push on and extend the worn path a little farther.
The short story "A Worn Path" depicts through both symbolism and perseverance, the obstacles that African Americans face on their path to racial equality.
In her short story “A Worn Path”, Eudora Welty communicates this timeless theme through the protagonist, Phoenix, who has traveled this path many times.
A Worn Path study guide contains a biography of Eudora Welty, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
The fact that the grandson is never seen, only referred to and not a direct actor in the narrative is actually quite significant. The very fact that he stands in direct contrast to the protagonist of the story relative to his tender age versus her advanced seniority indicates that he is symbolic of the future. Extrapolating from the text that the overarching theme of the story is the effect of race relations, a strong argument can be made that the grandson represents not just the future, but the future for blacks in America. That he is an unseen character suggests that the future of race relations also remains unclear and uncertain. The long journey along the path made all the more difficult by all those obstacles and hindrances represents the progress made so far and that medicine is the object of Phoenix’s trek is only highly suggestive: it is going to take some strong medicine to achieve the dream of equality for the grandsons and granddaughters of those like Phoenix.
At one point Phoenix gets her skirt all caught up in a prickly bush and has to carefully extricate herself so that the material doesn’t get damaged. At another point she must cross a river with only an unsteady old log acting as the bridge. Taken individually, these obstacles don’t amount to much more than mere unpleasant impediments, but collectively they represent a symbolic realization of the distinctly evil legacy of bondage and suffering that results from slavery. The thorny bush is nothing less than a pointed allusion to the crown of thorns forced down upon the head of Jesus Christ. The act of closing her eyes while crossing the makeshift log bridge takes on the broader implications of a spiritual leap of faith in the trusting God to help her find her way though she be—if only temporarily—blind. Every obstacle and hindrance that Phoenix overcomes on her way to her destination likewise takes on greater significance as representations of the obstacles that everyone faces as they blaze a trail across the worn path that trails behind their own life.
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she was inspired to write Phoenix's story after observing an old woman walking along the horizon in the Mississippi countryside. Drawn to the way the woman moved with a strong sense of purpose, Welty began thinking about what kind of serious errand this woman might be on. Bam—just like that, she dreamt up "A Worn Path."
The ending of “A Worn Path” can seem ambiguous at best and anticlimactic at worst. The nod, the turn and the carefully stepping down the stairs on Phoenix's way out, however, are actually of incredible significance and import. Again, individually, these actions may not count for much, but collectively they represent the commencement of yet another struggle that lies ahead for Phoenix and—by extension—blacks living in America. The utter lack of any sort of Aristotelian cathartic resolution is, in reality, far from ambiguous, but the lack of a satisfying climax speaks volumes. No sooner has Phoenix successfully completed one task that proved to be far more difficult and time-consuming that it should have been than she is forced to set upon the another arduous journey to complete another minor task that should not be so difficult: buying her grandson the paper windmill he desires. Such is the hardship of not just one individual, but an entire culture.