In stories, usually, we think of our traditional hero as a young and strong undefeatable man. In Eudra Weltys short story A Worn Path, it is obviously not the case. Pheonix Jackson, an old shortsighted poor woman may not look as our traditional hero but she goes through a series of events where she displays all the qualities of one.
At the start of her journey, we can easily perceive Phoenixs steadfastness through the woods up a hill. The old lady, despite her age and difficulty to walk, is determined to get to town to get medicine for her sick grandson. She uses her thin and small cane made from an umbrella to get around. The narrator clearly explains the condition of the deep and still woods and how they prevent her from advancing: Something always take a hold of me on this hill pleads I should stay. Thorny bushes would grasp her dress, trapping her. But her steadfastness continued on as she dangerously crossed the log across the creek where she could have easily fallen regarding her physical state. I wasnt as old as I thought. She would say. Which proves that she will do whatever it takes to get to where she needs to go. Although, at one point where we might have thought that she would give up was when she sat down to rest and hallucinated a little boy bringing her cake. Insinuating that it was her time to give in. However, she got back to her senses and carried on thorough her journey.
Her courage is unmistakably shown during her encounter with the hunter. Phoenix had fallen down after a big black dog had surprised her and was unable to get back on her feet. A young man who was passing by kindly helps the old woman up from the ground. At first he appears kind, asking if she had broken anything and telling her that she would be better retuning back home. But Phoenix was determined to get to town. He suddenly makes a racist comment, which showed his arrogance towards coloured people. I know you old coloured people! Wouldnt miss going to town to see Santa Claus! He then points his gun at the old lady and asks if she is not scared. She did not show any emotion holding utterly still towards the turn of events and declares that she does not fear the gun as she has seen plenty in her day. Pheonix might not be young and strong but she definitely has courage.
Pheonix firstly demonstrates her humility as she gets to town and realizes that her shoe is untied. While people are passing by, she asks a woman to tie it for her. "I doesn't mind asking a nice lady to tie up my shoe," she says, indicating that her pride does not interfere with her humility. Another time is when she gets to the doctors office and the attendant offers her a nickel because it is Christmas time. She decides to take the money and buy her grandson a little windmill, they sells, made out of paper, when she could have used it to buy something for herself after making that long trip to get his medicine. But she had made the journey selflessly, no matter what she will always put her grandson first.
Her whole journey portrays her quality of sacrifice. She goes through all types of obstacles to get to town only so she could get the medicine for her sick grandson because the time has come around. She could have even died on her way there but she was bound to go to town. This only shows how she will go anywhere and do anything for the sake of her child. And as I mentioned previously, even when she got a reward after her trip the only thing on her mind was he.
But not only does her trip to get the medicine show her sacrifice but also her faith, or else she would not have bothered to obtain it. She believes that as long as she goes to town to get the soothing-medicine her grandson is going to last. If she didnt have faith she would not have been willing to go through all the obstacles she had to endure during her journey.
In conclusion, it is in no doubt that Pheonix possesses all the qualities of a true hero. She has shown us her steadfastness with nothing holding her back, her courage by standing up for herself, her humility putting the others before her, her sacrifice making the long trip once again and her faith in obtaining the medicine. She is truly a brave one of a kind woman. This story shows that no matter where we are in the world there is always an unknown hero.
Tracing an Underlying Theme and Message
English 603-101-MQ, Section 00093
Jerold Stuart Wadsworth
2 November 2011