A Worn Path, by Eudora Welty, is a short story about the journey an old woman makes to take care of her sick grandson. A Worn Path falls into the literary period of Modernism. The old woman, Phoenix, makes a long and hard voyage through the forest to get her grandson the proper medicine he needs. Eudora Welty focuses on the obstacles that Phoenix has to overcome on her way to town. The majority of Welty’s writings focus on the portrayal of the American South during the depression (ENotes). Welty’s, A Worn Path, centers on the “Breakdown of social norms and cultural sureties” and “Valorization of the despairing individual in the face of an unmanageable future” (The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia). These traits are both characteristics of the Modernism era in literature. A Worn Path has a typical topic for Eudora Welty. Her story describes an elderly woman in the south going out of her way to care for her ill grandson. A Worn Path is a modernist writing with a heartwarming storyline.

Eudora Welty displays two main Modernism traits in, A Worn Path. Welty uses, “Breakdown of social norms and cultural sureties” and “Valorization of the despairing individual in the face of an unmanageable future (The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia)” in her short story. Welty’s description of the old black woman, Phoenix, is a classic portrait of a black woman in the south at the time. Welty even said, “she was inspired to write the story after seeing an old African-American woman walking alone across the southern landscape” (ENotes). Welty applies many cultural differences in all of her writings, most likely due to the southern way of life at the time. Eudora Welty was very influenced by her surroundings, and almost all of her writings took place in the same environment she lived in. In this particular short story Welty incorporates a suffering black child who is in dire need of medicine. This was probably an accurate topic at the time of the writing. It was most likely more difficult for an African American child to get medicine than it was for a white child. Phoenix makes the long journey to get her grandson the medicine that will heal him. Her grandson was in despair, but she does whatever it takes to make sure that he gets what he needs. A Worn Path is a short story with many Modernism characteristics.


Eudora Welty was born on April 13, 1909, in Jackson, Mississippi (Encyclopedia of World Biography). She grew up in the south and eventually became a writer. Welty would use many real life experiences as ideas for short stories (Encyclopedia of World Biography). Welty would break down the social and cultural differences in her stories that she would see in every day life in the south. Welty’s short story, A Worn Path, is very similar to her other writings. Welty’s life shaped her stories and was the most important part of her writings.

A Worn Path has some of the same Modernism traits from I will put Chaos into fourteen lines, and The Black Finger. The Black Finger and A Worn Path also shared the most Modernism traits. They both reference the African Americans in the early nineteen hundreds and what life was like for them. Both writings describe a struggle and overcoming the obstacles in the way. A Worn Path, and I will put Chaos into fourteen lines shared the aspect that there was an obstacle to overcome, but the two writings did not share a common theme.


In conclusion, Worn Path is a Modernist work about a southern woman and her love for her family. Phoenix sacrifices all she has to get her grandson the help that he needs. Eudora Welty wrote the short story based on the southern way of life that she had observed. The modernist theme focused on overcoming an problem no matter what it took. Welty’s writing was a focus on the African American lifestyle in the South in the early nineteen hundreds. It was a tough road for the African Americans but they did what they had to. A Worn Path is a modernist writing with a very gratifying storyline.




Works Cited


Welty, Eudora. "A Worn Path." MoonStar. Web. 25 Apr. 2010. <http://www.moonstar.com/~acpjr/Blackboard/Common/Stories/WornPath.html>.
St. Vincent Millay, Edna. "I Will Put Chaos Into Fourteen Lines - Edna St. Vincent Millay - Topic." The Greatest Community on Earth - AnswerPool.com. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. <http://answerpool.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/910603883/m/7641005682>.

"Modernist Literature - The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia." Main Page - The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia. Web. 25 Apr. 2010. <http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Modernist_literature>.

Grimké, Angelina W. "The Black Finger by Angelina Weld Grimke at Old Poetry." Oldpoetry - Classical Poetry Discussion. Web. 25 Apr. 2010. http://oldpoetry.com/opoem/49585-Angelina-Weld-Grimke-The-Black-Finger.

"A Worn Path Summary & Study Guide - Eudora Welty - ENotes.com." ENotes - Literature Study Guides, Lesson Plans, and More. Web. 01 May 2010. <http://www.enotes.com/worn-path>.

"Eudora Welty Biography - Life, Family, Childhood, Children, Parents, Story, Death, School, Mother, Book, Information, Born, College, Time, Year, Achievements." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Web. 01 May 2010. <http://www.notablebiographies.com/We-Z/Welty-Eudora.html>.



Cale George
English A5

http://www.moonstar.com/~acpjr/Blackboard/Common/Stories/WornPath.html

http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=110634

http://www.notablebiographies.com/We-Z/Welty-Eudora.html



Eudora Welty- A Worm Path: Dan Reiser B1

Family, the single most important piece of an elder person's life, which is all Phoenix Jackson has left to live for in "A Worm Path". "A Worm Path", written by Eudora Welty, gives a story of an old southern black woman's efforts for a simple medicine in order to be secure in her grandson's health. While battling against natures animals and terrain, an outspoken and threatening white hunter, and her own mental stability, Welty has created a symbolic and cultural piece of literature that parallels the characteristics of modernism. Welty, herself was born a southern woman in 1914, and till this day, she is believed to be one of the most influential twentieth century writers from the Harlem Renaissance, when many african americans during the early 1900's began to write important pieces of literature (E. Welty Biography 1).

As a woman experienced with close deaths in the family, Welty knows the importance of health and over-looking, protecting her close ones. In her later years, she took on deaths from two of her brothers and her mother in long and battling illnesses. As a reflection of her life, "A Worm Path" along with other works by Welty, such as Losing Battles and The Optimist's Daughter, kept close to the same message towards facing the hardships with close family (E. Welty Biography 1). Modernism writing has greatly supported the continuous gratitude towards a powerful woman, such as Phoenix Jackson in "A Worm Path". Jackson's incredible determination and close partnership with her grandson gives a great suggestion to the characteristics of modernism, as in the purpose of the common people, mostly an elderly woman in "A Worm Path", and the precious feeling of a day's hard work of the common person towards one who does nothing all day, such as the white hunter.

Symbolism is key in A Worm Path. The struggle Phoenix Jackson experiences through her trail to help her grandson's health, more importantly the only family she has left, symbolizes a person's determination. Since Ms. Jackson is battling the harshness of mother nature through the winding trails of the woods and her own personal will power to make it through the woods, the story is a fine example of the power of the common person (A Worm Path Analysis 1). Large amounts of personal wins from internal battles and external threats can nearly break a person down, especially an elder woman. Theme plays a major role in keeping in touch with aspects of modernism. "A Worm Path" does this by continuously reminding the reader of how common of a woman Phoenix is in her age, mental stability, and work ethic, but most of all, "A Worm Path" is used to show how the common person can overwhelm the large powers around Phoenix.

An interesting idea developed from the Analysis of "A Worm Path" from Free Essays, in this essay the structure of the elder woman's name was broken down. Phoenix Jackson is first seen as a common name because of the last name Jackson, but the fist name Phoenix is most likely very symbolic. This is due to the fact that the Phoenix is a mythological creature that burns in fire, only to return from the ashes stronger than it was before (A Worm Path Analysis 1). Great connections of the name Phoenix and the plot of "A Worm Path" can indicate how Ms. Jackson comes up from her obstacle only to regain herself in a more controlled and determined manner. In "A Worm Path", Phoenix Jackson even impresses herself by the end of the story once she has overcome her obstacle when she says, "I wasn't as old as I thought." (Welty 1).

"A Worm Path" has been greatly influenced by the modernism style of writing through a storyline combining the hardships of winnings struggle against powers of a greater kind, the mental stability of the common person/woman, fine examples of love and support from family members, and especially contributing factors of experiences the author, Eudora Welty, has faced. Welty's biography supports the character's strong will power in tough times of succeeding powers of no control, such as family deaths and financial status (E. Welty Biography 1). Phoenix Jackson's role in society and standards of high quality support for family members and determination proves itself to compare to the traits of the power of the purpose of the common person in the modernism style of writing. Overall, Eudora's work in her lifetime has influenced many and had given modernism another way to consider the strength of a woman.

Work Cited

"A Worn Path, An Analysis :: American Literature." Free Essays, Term Papers, Research Paper, and Book Report. Web. 03 May 2010. http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=110634.

"Eudora Welty Biography - Life, Family, Childhood, Children, Parents, Story, Death, School, Mother, Book, Information, Born, College, Time, Year, Achievements." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Google. Web. 02 May 2010. http://www.notablebiographies.com/We-Z/Welty-Eudora.html.

Welty, Eudora. "A Worn Path." MoonStar. Web. 02 May 2010. http://www.moonstar.com/~acpjr/Blackboard/Common/Stories/WornPath.html.