Symbolism of the Journey Comparing and Contrasting Frost’s the Road Not taken And A Worn out Path by Wendy Name: Course: Presented to: Date: Symbolism of the Journey A “Worn Path” by Welty is a short story about an elderly black woman, Phoenix Jackson, who walks from her home towards the city of Natchez to acquire medicine for her sick grandson…
She is worn out with fatigue, and many make it through many obstacles on her way. These include barbed wires, bushes, and thorns. On the other hand, “The Road Not Taken” by Frost is a poem concerning a speaker who travels along road, where he comes to a junction with two different roads and is in a dilemma concerning which one to take. The narrator alludes to the point the path had been travelled many times before, and it looks weary, though he is not sure he would be able to travel along the same path another time. Generally, the poem and the short story are about hardships, and dilemmas that the two speakers are involved in, with serious impediments along their determination to achieve their objectives. It takes both determination and perseverance for both speakers to travel their chosen paths to the end, though full of impediments and uncertainty. The stories are about decisions that are made in life, and the determination and struggles of many to make it through these life impediments, which are in most cases carved out by destiny, and not our choices. Frost opens the poem by introducing the audience to the dilemma facing the speaker, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both” (Savoie, 2004). These first lines portray the speaker as being indifferent to which way to decide or act. The speaker is more confused, and wishes he could travel both roads simultaneously, as portrayed in his indecisiveness. He stares at the roads for a long time perhaps wondering on the right decision to make, and finding claims to support this decision. The poem speaks on the essential decisions made in life, the nature of choice of how to take one decision or one direction as compared to the other, evaluating how one feels about one direction taken, or which one decides not to take and many more life decisions (Pritchard, 1997). These decisions are vague and unclear, as the speaker is not able to foretell what lies a short distance ahead, as portrayed by the last line of the first stanza “to where it bent in the undergrowth.” The speaker expresses feelings of indifference in what lies ahead, as he cannot see well in advance; the path is dense with undergrowth. Frost presents this indecisiveness to express the feeling of the speaker in anticipating surprises and uncertainties on each road that he takes. Similar to Frost’s path, Phoenix in “Worn Path” presents a path that is ridden with obstacles and vagueness. The narrative is complicated by the nature of Phoenix as an old woman who struggles to go through this difficult path to get medicine for the ailing grandson. She is old and weak, but the thought of her grandson makes her undergo this tormenting journey. “While needed rest forces her to stop for a while, she has a vision of a little boy handling her slice of marble cake” (Gilson, 2002). The narrative presents a worn out lady, struggling in a lonely world, almost to give up, but thought of her objectives makes her bring out her inner strength to keep going on. Her poverty and the effects of age on her health are clear; one wonders if it was worthy for her to take this torturous path. This is portrayed when she admits “Something takes hold of me on this hill- pleads I should stay ”(Welty, 151). Phoenix is tired and almost to give up his determination, with nature in the so lonely path feeling her weariness and urging her to rest. In Frost’ ...
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The first-person narrator has been interpreted as being the voice of a dead girl who realizes in the course of the story that she is dead. Before the final pronouncement, “That was the first time she knew”, there are symbols in the story that pre-empt this conclusion.
The use of journeys ands trips in these works are symbolic signifying various meanings ranging from life choices to life processes as well as the challenges and implications that come along with the choices and processes. Background to Symbolism in Literary Works To appreciate the role of symbolism in these works of literature, it would be vital to highlight some background information relating to symbolism as a literary device and the content of the works that are subject of discussion and comparison in this paper.
In the overall narration or content of the literary work, we can find one or many recurring themes that are sometimes very apparent and sometimes concealed between the lines. The literary works that are taken for comparison and contrast in this paper are The Road not Taken by Robert Frost and A Worn Path by Eudora Welty.
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