A Worn Path


Eudora Welty

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The Worn Path Symbol Analysis

The Worn Path Symbol Icon
The story can be thought of as a kind of road trip. Phoenix travels over many different kinds of surfaces, from sand, to wagon trails, to sidewalks. She also encounters many obstacles along her path, from the thorns to the stream crossing, to the hunter, scarecrow, and the lone dog. Some of the obstacles are foreseen; most are surprises to her. These shifting elements of the path she walks symbolize Phoenix’s life, with its many and nearly constant difficulties, and yet it also symbolizes the way that, through perseverance, Phoenix has been able to slowly carve out a path through those difficulties, even if it is faint and tenuous. Further, it is possible to see the symbol of the worn path as representative of not just Phoenix’s life, but also the lives of all Southern black people – an encapsulation of the idea that it is both brutally hard and also vital and possible to wear down a path to a better life despite terrible obstacles.

The Worn Path Quotes in A Worn Path

The A Worn Path quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Worn Path. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race and Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harcourt Brace edition of A Worn Path published in 1982.
A Worn Path Quotes

“Seems like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far…Something always takes a hold of me on this hill—pleads I should stay.”

Related Characters: Phoenix Jackson (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Worn Path
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

She lifted her free hand, gave a little nod, turned around…Then her slow step began on the stairs, going down.

Related Characters: Phoenix Jackson
Related Symbols: The Worn Path, The Paper Windmill
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Worn Path Symbol Timeline in A Worn Path

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Worn Path appears in A Worn Path. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Worn Path
Race and Class Theme Icon
Perseverance and Power Theme Icon
Nature and City Theme Icon
...her as she has “a long way” to go. Phoenix continues down the long undulating path. She looks back at where she has come from, thinking about how hard the journey... (full context)