Love Conquers All In “A Worn Path” Eudora Weltys plot is not all that clear in the beginning of her short story, but progresses as her character carries on against all of the overwhelming forces against her. In this short story a black elderly woman, Phoenix Jackson, must overcome the odds against her as she valiantly travels through many obstacles in order to contribute to the wellness of her grandson, for whom she is making this trip down “a worn path.” It is at this point that all of Weltys readers hearts open up to this poor, elderly woman as she makes an attempt to carry on her love for her grandson by taking a long journey down a familiar path in order to get medication that seems to help ease his sickness pains.
However, there are many forces against Phoenix that Welty includes in her story in order to make Phoenixs adventure end in a victory. Poverty, old age, and her journey through the woods are all of the odds which Phoenix must overcome. Poverty is a major hardship that most of us will never have to face, but in Phoenixs case, poverty is present everyday in her and her grandsons life. Since she is in this state of poverty, Phoenix is not able to enjoy lifes luxuries as others do and must make do with what she can. As she begins her journey, it becomes clear that she lacks the money to pay for transportation to and from town; therefore, she starts down her path carrying a “thin, small cane made from an umbrella” (132). Although Welty never really emphasizes what this is used for the reader can assume that she uses it because she does not have the money to buy the actual cane needed to help her walk properly.
Another conflict dealing with poverty arouses when she feels it necessary to steal from a hunter she encounters in the woods. While the hunter walks away her sneaky “fingers slid down and along the ground under the piece of money with grace and care they would have in lifting an egg from under a setting hen” (134). Here Welty shows that Phoenix must do what she has to in order to survive. Even though it may not appear right, her poverty forces her to act in a way that she only knows best. For instance, when people have a barrier separating them between something they want, they are going to do what they can to achieve their goal no matter what stands in their way.
In this case Phoenix is a poor woman and the money catches her eye. Acting on her instinct, she takes what is not hers and hopes that she can get away with it. However, because of her perseverance and determination to better the health of her grandson, Phoenix journeys into town to receive charity that the doctors office provides her. This “soothing medicine” they give her is the reason why she makes this trip in the first place (136). However, she is looked upon as a charity case since she has no money to pay for the medication he needs and is given the medicine for free.
All of these examples that Welty has described in “A Worn Path” allow her story to develop by making readers think about what she writes. Poverty is an important issue in todays society and it makes one think of all the fortunes they have. In this sense, Welty also makes one fear poverty by the way she addresses it. The images allow one to feel Phoenixs pain that comes along with poverty. Joyce Carol Oates backs up this statement by adding that by “disciplining her Weltys vision in order to gain deeper penetration into the dark and lovely realities of the lonely human spirit and shaping her fiction so that each story should be something achieved..
.” (362). Oates simply means that Welty goes beyond normal realities in order to grab the readers attention. Through poverty, Welty takes a worldwide problem and stretches it to a level in which the person reading her story feels saddened by the power she displays.