In the story “A Worn Path”, there is a repetitive comparison between the main character and a mythological creature. The author Eudora Welty chooses Phoenix Jackson to symbolize through color, her appearance, behavior and overall journey a Phoenix bird.
The author gives description to focus on Phoenix Jackson’s age. She says that “her eyes were blue with age”, are hints of extreme age. Another description of her the author says “her skin had a pattern all of its own branching wrinkles.” This implies that an old tree has many branches as the old woman’s skin has many wrinkles. Later in the story when she encounters the hunter he asks of her age.
She replies “there is no telling mister”, which tells you that phoenix is unaware of her age now that she has become so old like the phoenix bird. The phoenix has a life span of 500-1000 years before it reincarnates making it eternal. The color descriptions that are given to Phoenix Jackson are those of an actual Phoenix. Welty says that Phoenix has “a golden color that runs underneath and the two knobs of her cheeks were illuminated by a yellow burning…”. The phoenix bird is most recognizable by its colors, the fire bird. It’s beautiful colors of red orange and yellow give it its illuminated glow, the same colors given to phoenix Jackson.
The animalistic characteristics of a bird are also given to Phoenix Jackson. She doesn’t see well, so in her journey through the woods she relies on her instinct to direct her on her path. She even closes her eyes when crossing a river. She is also protective of her grandson. Making a life threatening trek for his medicine because he cannot care for himself makes her his protector.
A mother bird is very protective of her chicks, Phoenix even describes her grandson by saying “He wears a patch quilt and peep out holding his mouth wide open like a little bird.” There are numerous references that compare Phoenix to a bird. By her overall outlook on her journey she relies on instinct to carry her forward but she sees things differently than most. The view of a bird is a different one than any creature on land because they have a different perspective as does Phoenix Jackson.
Courtney from Study Moose
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