A “Worn Path” is a short story composed by Eudora Welty. It speaks about an old black woman embarking on a journey towards a rural place to get medicine for her grandson. She intends to express herself in brief instances of monologue as a way of deterring wild animals and also communicating the agony she feels in her worn out bones.
The story is narrated in the third-person’s perspective whereby it follows an elderly black woman called Phoenix Jackson on her way to town. “A Worn Path” is set in the town of Natchez, Mississippi at the time of the Great Depression.
A Synopsis to The Story
On a chilly December day, Phoenix Jackson, an elderly woman treads along a rural footpath as she narrates the journey to herself. She passes through different types of terrain – forests, swamps, hills, and fields. All these put the endurance of her body to the test. Along the way, she comes across people as well as animals. Some of them are real, while others are memories, daydreams, and optical illusions.
At one instance, a black dog knocks her over. This leaves her lying within a ditch for some time until a young white hunter arrives with his chained dog, and stops to assist her. After that, Jackson and the hunter converse, particularly about her destination as well as her age. This makes him appear nice, but in essence, he is a hothead. He sends his dog to go and attack the black woman, pointing his gun directly at Jackson; an act he considers hilarious. As the two of them go their separate ways, the hunter tells Jackson that it would be advisable if she went back home. However, Jackson insists on proceeding with her journey.
The path leads her into town. Christmas decorations are all over, and the streets are full of people rushing past the old lady who frequently undertakes the long journey into the city to obtain medicine for her grandson. Her grandson fell ill after eye poisoning. The nurse gives Jackson medicine for throat infections, but Jackson believes it will be of no use. Nevertheless, she takes it. The attendant hands her a nickel as a charismas gift. On her way home, Jackson decides to buy a paper windmill as a Christmas gift for her grandson.