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A Worn Path
Transcript of A Worn Path
"A Worn Path" was written by Eudora Welty
It was first published in 1941 and is the tale of Phoenix Jackson's journey through the woods of Mississippi to the town of Natchez. Welty has said she was inspired to write the story after she saw an old African-American woman walking along across the southern landscape. A Worn Path
Phoenix is strong and full of courage and resolve to prevail - even against the something impossible.The story concerns an individual and others like her pitted against large and indifferent social and political forces. Her journey represents her journey through life. Plot Phoenix Jackson, an elderly woman, walks along a path on her way to the town of Nachez. Along the path, she talks to herself about things that won't hold her back, such as warning against animals. She catches her skirt in the thorns of a bush and while resting, dreams of a boy bringing her marble cake. She opens her eyes and finds her hand grasping nothing. She faces more obstacles, such as meeting a dog who catches her off balance so she falls into a ditch. The dog's owner, a hunter, helps her out. He tells her that she should just go home. He also drops a nickel that Phoenix picks up and points his gun at her, asking if she is afraid. She says no. When she reaches the town, she goes to a doctor's clinic where the nurse recognizes her as, "old aunt Phoenix." Phoenix forgets why she made the journey for a minute and then remembers that she came to get her grandson medicine. She explains that her grandson swallowed lye and needs medicine for his throat. The nurse gives Phoenix a nickel, and Phoenix leaves the clinic to buy her grandson a paper windmill with the two nickels she got along the way. Setting Historical Context Takes place in Mississippi in the country and town of Natchez
Assume Phoenix lives far away from Natchez since hunter says journey is long way
Rural: animals Phoenix encounters
Probably around 1990s as Phoenix says she was "too old to Surrender" Published in 1941
US was entering WWII
Poverty was widespread
Phoenix also could have possibly been born into slavery/sharecropping
Her generation experienced the Great Depression Point of View Third Person Limited
Means that Phoenix is the only person whose thoughts are known
Empathize with Phoenix since only her thoughts and actions are shown
View Phoenix from a distance as well since it isn't in first person and we can see how others react to her Structure Resembles the typical structure of a quest
Every quest must have:
1. A quester
2. A place to go
3. A stated reason to go there
4. Challenges and trials en route
5. A real reason to go there 1. A quester Phoenix Jackson
Old and frail
Determined to complete her journey
Resourceful (hunter gets in the way of her journey, she is undaunted and uses situation to her advantage by picking up a nickel he drops)
Not afraid when the hunter points a gun at her
Selfless and committed Other characters:
Helps Phoenix out of ditch shows willingness to help
Disrespectful based on race and age: shown by conversation with Phoenix after he helps her
Insensitive: points the gun at Phoenix
Refers to Phoenix as "Granny"
Represents society's attitudes about Phoenix by displaying some sensitivity while still belittling her
"Old Aunt Phoenix doesn't come for herself- she has a little grandson."
"You mustn't take up our time this way." 2. A Place to Go On the journey to get to the doctor's clinic in town 3. A stated reason to go there Phoenix is on her journey to go to the clinic in order to get medicine for her grandson. 4. Challenges and Trials en Route Phoenix encounters many challenges along the way, such as a dog causing her to lose balance and fall, a hunter who taunts her with his gun, and getting her skirt torn in the bushes. 5. A real reason to go there Phoenix is actually traveling along the path going to the hospital to show her love and hope for her grandson. Symbols Name Symbolism Phoenix:
1. Relates to Egyptian mythology
2. A bird that consumed itself by fire and then rose from its ashes
3. Used as a Christian symbol of death and resurrection
4. Embodies qualities such as great age, pertinacity, persistence, and magical ability to renew herself and regain strength and vigor. Paper Windmill Symbolic for what and who propels us on our journeys. What propels Phoenix is her love for her grandson. Dreams Her dream of the marble cake while in the ditch result in her reaching out but finding that nothing is there. The marble cake that she dreams about symbolizes a blending of black and whites in the south. The dream itself shows her longing for someone to reach out to her, but nobody does, symbolizing the lack of racial harmony during the time period. Title Symbolizes Phoenix's repeated journeys. It portrays her efforts to overcome obstacles with her race. The path symbolizes life itself including all obstacles, pain, and splendor along with its nature as a journey that human beings must endure with as much courage and dignity as possible motivated by adoration. Birds Birds symbolize the dangers and delights of Phoenix's life. She feels protective and pitying toward the vulnerable birds and dismisses the threatening birds.
After her momentary memory lapse at the doctor's clinic, Phoenix remembers her reason for the journey was for her grandson. She describes her grandson as, "he wear a little patch quilt and peep out holding his mouth open like a little bird." Is the grandson dead or alive? How do we know? What do you think? Welty's answer would be: Phoenix is alive. She says that the grandson, "being dead can't increase the truth of the story, can't affect it one way or another."
The story doesn't explicitly say that Phoenix's grandson is dead.
At first we accept that he is alive since Phoenix went to go get medicine for him.
However, Welty describes Phoenix as a "solitary little bird."
Perhaps the reality of her journey is actually that she is fearful of recognizing that her grandson is dead. Her journey could be filled with terrors of realizing that her grandson is dead.
The truth of the story isn't whether the grandson is dead or alive, but the love that motivates Phoenix to take the quest.
At the end of the story, the readers are left with the same dilemma as Phoenix: Is he dead or is he not dead? Meaning Jeopardy Game!
Teams will be your tables! Basic information
-Eudora Alice Welty, the oldest of her family's three children and the only girl, was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson, Mississippi
-Welty died from pneumonia at the age of ninety-two on July 22, 2001, in Jackson, Mississippi.
-Eudora Welty’s father Christian Welty had been raised on a farm in Ohio and had become a country school teacher in West Virginia. Marrying a fellow teacher, Chestina Andrews, he moved to Jackson to improve his fortunes by entering business. From bookkeeper in an insurance company, he eventually advanced to president.
-Welty described hers as a happy childhood in a close-knit, bookish family. One of her earliest memories was the sound of her parents' voices reading favorite books to one another in the evenings.
-Both of her brothers were diagnosed with severe arthritis, while her mother was paralyzed by a stroke. Welty spent the next fifteen years caring for her helpless family. Unhappily, she faced the death of her mother and brothers in 1966. Education
-Welty attended Central High School in Jackson Mississippi, between 1921 and 1925.
-Afterwards, two years at Mississippi State College for Women between 1925 and 1927, and then by two more years at the University of Wisconsin and a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1929. Her father, who believed that she could never earn a living by writing stories, encouraged her to study advertising at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York City during 1930 and 1931. Eudora attended Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York and studied advertising.
-The years in Wisconsin and New York broadened Welty's horizons, and the time she spent in New York City was especially meaningful for it was during the peak of The Harlem Renaissance, an artistic awakening that produced many African American artists. Welty and her friends went to dances in Harlem clubs and to musical and theatrical performances all over the city.
-Welty returned to Jackson in 1931 after her father's death and worked as a part-time journalist, copywriter, and photographer for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) (Pogram to provide jobs for writers)
-She worked as a Junior Publicity Agent at WPA, Welty's job duties were writing newspaper copies and taking photographs.
-She began her career again with The Optimist's Daughter, a novel which in 1969 won the Pulitzer Prize. Early in her career she served as a member of the New York Times book staff. She has also been a lecturer and writer- in-residence at various colleges. Welty is now considered the "literary voice and soul of the South”
-She is the first living writer ever to be included in the prestigious Library of America series.
-Welty was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, on October 7, 2000.
Some of her major works
"Death of a Traveling Salesman" 1936
"A Curtain of Green," with a preface by Katherine Anne Porter, Doubleday, 1941, re-published as A Curtain of Green, and Other Stories, 1964
The Robber Bridegroom (novella), 1942
The Wide Net, and Other Stories 1943
Delta Wedding (novel) 1946
Music from Spain, Levee Press 1948
The Golden Apples 1949
Selected Stories 1953
The Ponder Heart (novel) 1954 Major Works Continued
The Bride of the Innisfallen, and Other Stories 1955
"Place in Fiction" (lectures for conference on American Studies in Cambridge, England) 1957
The Shoe Bird (juvenile) 1964
Thirteen Stories 1965
A Sweet Devouring (nonfiction) 1969
Losing Battles (novel) 1970
"A Flock of Guinea Hens Seen from a Car" (poem) 1970
One Time, One Place: MS in the Depression: A Snapshot Album 1971
The Optimist's Daughter (novel) 1972
The Eye of the Story (selected essays and reviews) 1978
The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty 1980
One Writer's Beginnings 1984 (autobiography)
Morgana: Two Stories from 'The Golden Apples' 1988
Photographs 1989 Works Cited
"Author Biography." Novels for Students. Vol. 13. Gale Cengage, . eNotes.com. 26 Nov, 2012 <http://www.enotes.com/optimists-daughter-eudora-welty/>
"A Worn Path." eNotes. Gale, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://www.pljulianhs.net/ourpages/auto/2007/3/11/1173643688271/A_Worn_Path_notes.pdf>
A Worn Path by Eudora Welty. TeacherTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=186887&title=A_Worn_Path_by_Eudora_Welty>.
"A Worn Path by Eudora Welty: Symbols and Themes." Yahoo! Voices. Yahoo, 29 Nov. 2008. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://voices.yahoo.com/a-worn-path-eudora-welty-symbols-themes-2239877.html?cat=44>.
Eudora Welty biography. N.d. notable biographies Web. 3 Dec 2012. <http://www.notablebiographies.com/We-Z/Welty-Eudora.html>.
Eudora Welty Biography. N.d. biography. PBSWeb. 3 Dec 2012. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/americancollection/ponder/timeline_bio.html>.
Interview with Eudora Welty. TeacherTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?title=Interview_with_Eudora_Welty&video_id=186852>
Pipa. Illinois Philological Association, n.d. Web. 26 Nov. 2012. <http://castle.eiu.edu/~ipaweb/pipa/volume3/hardin.htm>.