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The Many Faces Of Literature Essay, Research Paper

The Many Faces of Literature

In analyzing the story, The Worn Path, written by Eudora Welty, I have taken what was printed in black and white, and translated the meaning to the colorful outlook on life which was intended by the author. Finding the literal and true meaning of what an author expresses sometimes entails looking past what has simply been written. The author of this story has taken familiar situations and characters to which a reader can relate, in order to present a revelation on life, which is sometimes difficult for people to grasp when presented in its original form. Since no two people are alike, each person has his or her own interpretation of literary work. The way in which a person interprets or reacts to a story often reflects the inside being. A person who has lived a sheltered and well-grounded existence will have a different perspective on life than one who has seen and has had a taste of the real world. The same can be said about the author of a story. He or she may be writing a piece which is purely meant to express his or her outlook on life. This can open up new ideas and allow a reader to experience the whole picture of life.

In A Worn Path, the main character of the story, Phoenix Jackson, is given human traits and is viewed as a relative imitation of human life. She is very determined, but due to her age and mental condition, her reliability is limited. By being an old and senile, yet wise, person, Phoenix has been stereotyped in order to be identified as such. Phoenix’s character is tied into the plot

with a relative conflict. The story line consists of an elder woman making an extended trip to a doctor’s office to receive medicine for her sick grandchild. The relative conflict is based upon Phoenix as the protagonist in the story. The antagonist in one instance in the story is the young hunter. He believes that Phoenix is not capable of completing her journey, and strongly suggests that she return home. The ending of the story is purposeful and suggests that Phoenix will return home to her grandson after buying him a gift with the money she received.

The central theme present in A Worn Path is based upon life and the optimistic idea of placing others before one’s self. The theme for this story is that since Phoenix’s sole purpose for living is to care for her grandson, whenever she goes to these great lengths, she will succeed. Phoenix is very loving and is always placing her grandson first in everything she does. She made the long journey in order that her grandson could have the medication he needed. Also, with the two nickels which she possessed at the end of the story, Phoenix announced that she was going to buy a paper windmill for her grandson. Hardly capable of even making it around her own neighborhood, Phoenix was able to travel a great distance when her heart was determined to succeed.

The story, A Worn Path, is written in order to express life in terms of religious meaning. The author uses familiar characters and situations in order to address what many people have considered to be the unexplainable. By using symbolism, Wetly was very successful in explaining the Christian religion and the life of Jesus Christ in several instances. For starters, the time of year

in which the story takes place is the Christmas season. The long journey which Phoenix makes to Natchez symbolizes the long journey that Mary and Joseph made with the baby Jesus to Bethlehem. The title in itself gives note of the worn path which Christ carried the rugged cross

upon just before his crucifixion. The paper windmill symbolizes the star of Bethlehem which the wise men followed to find the baby Jesus. Phoenix was also given a pure characteristic of faith, upon which Christianity is wholly based. When the young woman on the sidewalk put down her packages and tied Phoenix’s shoes, the author intended it to symbolize Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. Another use of symbolism was the sign located on the door of the doctor’s office. The golden sign is similar to what is usually associated with heaven. The major similarity lies within the whole basis of the story. The journey in which both made was motivated by the care of a loved one. Mary and Joseph made the journey through Judea in order to ensure a safe birthplace for Jesus. Phoenix traveled to Natchez in order that her grandson would no longer have to suffer from his sickness.

This piece consists of many literary devices which aid in the interpretation of the literal meaning of the story. The revelation of life which the story presents classifies A Worn Path as interpretive fiction. Eudora Welty took similar characteristics of both the Bible and her own creation to relate religious values to everyday life. The interpretation which a reader is able to give a story relies on two things. First of all, a person must have a desire to grow in knowledge. Secondly, a reader must be able to read beyond the print; for reality does not occur in black and white.


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