Phoenix, seeing a bird flying overhead shortly after stealing the nickel, takes the creature to embody God’s judging gaze. “A Worn Path” abounds with Christian images and ideas, from the way Phoenix’s journey on the worn path seems to echo the path etched by Christ carrying the cross, to the way that the woman tying Phoenix’s shoes recalls Mary Magdalene’s washing of Christ’s feet. A phoenix is a bird that rises from its own ashes, a kind of resurrection evocative of Christ’s own. Consequently, the reader can see Phoenix as a type of Christ figure. By connecting Phoenix’s journey to the “journey” of Christ, Welty elevates Phoenix’s small journey to help her grandson into something more profound, suggesting that the “worn path” Jesus tread is not so different from that walked by Phoenix, and by extension that God’s judging gaze is watching, also, how those who encounter Phoenix treat her.
Christian Overtones ThemeTracker
Christian Overtones Quotes in A Worn Path
“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.”
“Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass, no sir. Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush.”
“Now comes the trial.”
“Glad this not the season for bulls…and the good Lord made his snakes to curl up and sleep in the winter.”
Phoenix heard the dogs fighting, and heard the man running and throwing sticks. She even heard a gunshot. But she was slowly bending forward by that time, further and further forward, the lids stretched down over her eyes, as if she were doing this in her sleep. Her chin was lowered almost to her knees. The yellow palm of her hand came out from the fold of her apron. Her fingers slid down and along the ground under the piece of money with the grace and care they would have in lifting an egg from under a setting hen. Then she slowly straightened up, she stood erect, and the nickel was in her apron pocket. A bird flew by. Her lips moved. "God watching me the whole time. I come to stealing."
"See my shoe," said Phoenix. "Do all right for out in the country, but wouldn't look right to go in a big building." "Stand still then, Grandma," said the lady. She put her packages down on the sidewalk beside her and laced and tied both shoes tightly.
“We is the only two left in the world. He suffer and it don’t seem to put him back at all…He going to last…I could tell him from all the others in creation.”