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Literary Theme A Worn Path Essay

In “A Worn Path”, the theme though out the story is about a strong undying love an old woman has for her grandchild. According to Clugston 2010, the theme in a story is associated with an idea that lies behind the story. Every story narrows a broad underlying idea, shapes it in a unique way, and makes the underlying idea concrete. That’s how theme is created. In other words, the theme in a story is a representation of the idea behind the story. While a hard journey for an old woman, a grandmother’s undying love shows the depths she was willing to go to take care of her grandchild.

When you love someone, there is no journey too far or too hard when that person is in need. The old woman took that journey to get the medicine needed to help the child. Although the medicine did not helping the child in the past, this woman had hopes that maybe, this time it would, and was willing to go to any length to find out. When it comes to a one’s child or in this case a grandchild, there are no lengths one would not go to make them healthy and happy.

Though the story does not tell us where the mother of this child was, it does indicate that the child was depending on his grandmother to help him, and it also seems as though the child was all old Phoenix had, and she did not want to loose him. Any one who has children would do almost anything to protect that child, even if it meant walking miles through the deep woods in the blazing sun to make sure you did everything possible to make that child feel better.

This story is about the sacrificial love this grandmother had for her grandson who was sick from swallowing lye and the only way to make his throat feel better was for this old woman to walk miles through treacherous woods to get medicine for him that may or may not work. The story is told in the “Third–person point of view which occurs when the speaker is not a participant in the story. It has two forms: omniscient point of view and objective point of view“ (Clugston 2010, ch 5. 2). This can be seen in the narrator telling the story about an old Negro woman named Phoenix, making a journey to the Dr. ’s office, for her grandson’s medicine.

The story is told from a limited omniscient point of view observed here: “On she went. The woods were deep and still. The sun made the pine needles almost too bright to look at, up where the wind rocked. The cones dropped as light as feathers. Down in the hollow was the mourning dove– it was not too late for him” (Clugston 2010, ch 6. 3). The point of view affects the narrative theme by the narrator telling what was going on in the old woman’s mind and showing the determination and the deep love she had for her grandson to enable her to brave the harsh elements of the sun and the woods to complete her mission.

The point of view gives the reader more insight as to what was going on beyond what was being said, what old Phoenix was thinking. The story also had a lot of symbolism in it and Clugston 2010, tells us that a symbol is something that has a literal identity but also stands for something else—something that is widely understood and has been developed over a long period of time or by common agreement. This second identity (or referent) is always abstract in nature.

Some of the symbolism in this story starts off with the old woman’s name, Phoenix, and according to Clugston 2010, a phoenix is a mythical creature that rises from its own ashes, “Her name was Phoenix Jackson” (Clugston 2010, ch 6. 3). The narrator giving the month of December which is winter, symbolizing death, stagnation and sleep, and considering the old woman’s age, showing that even after such a long journey, she temporarily forgot what she had traveled so far for. The narrator also tells how Phoenix is feeling during a certain point in the journey, “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far” (Clugston 2010 ch 6. ), with chains symbolizing a struggle.

The oak trees that are spoken about, symbolized strength and wisdom, of which the old woman exhibited both of these traits, “Now down through oaks” (Clugston 2010 ch 6. 3), “She passed through the old cotton and went into a field of dead corn” (Clugston 2010 ch 6. 3), as well as the buzzard, also symbols of death. She also drank “water which symbolizes source of life and regeneration” as noted, “In a ravine she went where a spring was silently flowing through a hollow log. “Old Phoenix bent and drank” (Clugston 2010 ch 6. 3).

In the end Phoenix did get the medicine and was so happy when she left the Dr. ’s office, she decided to buy the child a little toy from the nickel she found on the ground and the nickel the nurse had given her. She decided to buy her grandson a pinwheel, knowing this was something that would make him happy. The narrator made me feel that the journey home was a much lighter on Phoenix than the one going to the Dr. ’s office, not only because she had the medicine and she accomplished her mission, but also that fact that she was able to come back with a gift for the child, also showing her love for him.

Indeed, while a hard journey for an old woman, a grandmother’s selfless undying love shows the depths she was willing to go to show it. When you love someone, there is no journey too far or too hard when the one you love is in need. Though the medicine was not helping the child, this woman had hopes that maybe this time it would, and would go to any length to find out. When it comes to your children or this case a grandchild, there are no lengths you would not go to make them healthy and happy.


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