Phoenix's Hardships and Racism in A Worn Path Essay

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“A Worn Path” tells of an elderly and frail black woman and of the hardships that she must overcome. Upon reading the story, you realize that there is more to the story than meets the eye. She faces many roadblocks along her way. Phoenix faces many dangerous obstacles along her way, for a person of her age. She faces racism from some of characters she meets along the way. Phoenix faces inferior treatment, as though she is nothing more than some insect to squash. This story is about not only her ‘journey’ to Natchez, but also about her journey through society and the struggle to overcome the dangers, being treated inferior, and the racism.
It’s December when Phoenix starts on her journey to Natchez and it is a journey she has taken many times before. This journey is no journey an elderly and weaken person should have to make by themselves, yet Phoenix does. She does not allow her age or her condition to keep her from it. Deep through the pines, the path takes her, and her first task would be to make it over a hill that seems to take all her energy and strength. “Seems like there is chains around my feet, time I get this far…” (Welty 5), here the reader can tell Phoenix does not have the strength that she really needs to make it up the hill. Yet somewhere she finds the will to keep pushing on and moving forward. This same type of spirit that allows Phoenix to keep pushing forward in society, and not to back down. Showing the younger generation that you have to fight your way through to a brighter day. It is later down the path that Phoenix comes to a creek and the only way to get across, is by walking on a log. Phoenix walks across this log with her eyes close. Once across she opens her eyes and says, “I wasn’t as old as I ...

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...f questions and she answers all of them respectfully and honestly. Phoenix cleverly distracts the man, with the two dogs that are fighting and he goes off to scare the big black one away by shooting at it. It is when he comes back and points his gun at her, that Phoenix shows no fear if it. When she is asked if she is afraid of it, her reply is, “No sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done” (Welty 58). Her unusual courage shows just how far racism stretches. Normally a human being would show fear when staring a gun down, but with years of white people making slaves out of them; black people had learn to face persecution head on. Therefore, Phoenix faced her trial head on, and the white hunter left with a little more respect for her than before. Which in the society she lived in respect was a gift and to be cherished.

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