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A Worn Path Essay

In the short story “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, Phoenix Jackson an elderly “negro” woman, journeys through the woods to a town to get medicine for her grandson in the early 19th century on a December morning. As the elderly woman walked through the woods she encounters many different obstacles along the way, which allows the audience to notice her drive and determination upon arrival at the town. Many of the different details that go into creating the setting and atmosphere of the story are purposely placed to strike reactions and emotions. The setting of the story affects the action, the atmosphere and the characters.

The actions in the story are affected by the setting of the woods and the obstacles placed in her way along her journey. While on her journey to the town the elderly woman encounters a huge log “and shuts her eyes” while she crosses over the log-bridged gap. The author allows the audience to picture the elderly lady in the middle of the log to better portray the difficulties and hardships she must face as she continues on. She also encounters a large black dog that suddenly surprises her “and over she went in the ditch.” The dog creates another obstacle which leads to a helping hand of a passerby thus affecting the setting. These actions show how she is in conflict with herself becoming too old to make the travel to the town without some difficulties along the way. She shows her determination to finish what she started as she continues on through all of the other obstacles and finally ends up at the town. As the lady walk through the woods there are many details of the setting that affect the outcome of the atmosphere of the story.

The atmosphere of the story is mostly a happy-warming tone with a hint of darkness with a sad undertone. The sadness of the story has to be read between the lines because the story itself tends to be an adventure that lends a happy tone. The atmosphere is affected because of the bright colors and dark colors representing happiness and sadness throughout the story. In saying “overhead the live oak trees met, and it was as dark as a cave” the author gives the audience two different aspects to take into consideration. First, being that the “live oak trees “helps express a happy tone because it represents growth, life and age. In turn “dark as a cave” can help express a dark or sad tone because it represents death, destruction or trouble. When the audience is allowed to notice these things on their own it gives the story a little more depth because of the many aspects that aren’t in the text. By allowing the audience to take this in as the story progresses it allows the audience to notice the details of the characters and how they affect the story as a whole.

As Phoenix Jackson is introduced to the audience notices how the settings affect the many aspects of the character. The setting of the story provides a small insight the mind of Ms. Jackson which allows the audience to notice how what she is really in search for. Without the setting as it appears in the story the characters wouldn’t be what they are which allows the audience to notice the specific details of each character introduced. The fact that the character is walking a long dirt road gives the audience a point of view of an older time where things were hard and discrimination was a common thing. Based on the time being in the 1900’s the lady must walk to the town because cars were expensive back then. Also in the way the medicine must be acquired allows the audience to notice that the setting must be affecting the character because of how the medicine is acquired in today’s world.

In conclusion, in “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, the setting of the story affects many different aspects like actions, the atmosphere and the characters. Allowing the audience to notice the details of the setting creates a realistic point of view when looking at all the aspects that goes into the story as a whole. Without all of the details that go into creating the setting as a whole, there would be no such things as a story.


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