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Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story - Essay Example

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Her journey, however, concerns more than seeing the towns Christmas lights, because it also stands for her peoples journey too. This essay discusses how Weltys story…
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Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story

of Phoenix illustrated her determination to attain her goals of medicine and paper windmill, which symbolized the frailty of the white mans gift of freedom.
The plot and setting of A Worn Path depict the arduous journey of black slaves toward redemption from slavery. The exposition focuses on the character of Phoenix Jackson, who represents black slaves. The complication of the plot is the struggle of Phoenix against herself and her environment. First, she is already old, even too old for her journey, which she admits: “I the oldest people I ever know” (Welty, 1941, par. 25). She cannot even properly see where she is heading, yet she relies on her poor eyesight and memory to arrive at her destination. Her age stands for the length of time of the slaves struggle for freedom; she can no longer tell how long anymore. Her physical degradation, furthermore, represents the physical consequences of slavery. Second, Phoenix also struggles with her surroundings or society. The setting presents diverse obstacles to freedom. The “foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and wild animals” in her way represent all the kinds of people, whites and blacks alike, who oppose the slaves pursuit of freedom. The thorny bush is also an example of what the black race needed to endure in their “endless struggle” (Sykes, 1998, p.151). The climax occurs when it seems that Phoenix has forgotten her journeys purpose. This “forgetting” is a form of situational irony, where it would have been a great waste of time and effort, if Phoenix could not achieve her mission. This “forgetting” can also be paralleled to the passivity in the blacks “waiting” for their freedom. In a way, waiting patiently for their freedom also evokes a lackadaisical response from the whites. Situational irony takes place once more; the more patient the blacks were, the more the whites exploited them. The resolution of the plot takes place when Phoenix remembers her gift to her grandson, the ... Read More
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