In the short story “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty, (1941), the character Phoenix Jackson is on a journey that due to her age and health shows her true determination and sacrifice. The writer highlights the characters socioeconomic status by using imagery such as “bleached sugar cane apron”(Clugston,2014.) This symbolizes her long labor intensive life. The dialogue is between herself, the hunter and the medical staff. The behavior towards Mrs Jackson implies the racial tension that the journey met as external conflicts. The political and societal landscape is given substance when Mrs Jackson interacts with humans in the story.
As the setting is established in the introductory paragraph with use of imagery to show the harsh environmental conditions. These environmental elements symbolizes her true sacrifice for another person, her grandson who is sick. Her feeling of content with life is highlighted when the author writes “her eyes were blue with age”(Clugston,2014.) As blue is used to symbolize a sense of peacefulness, which could be associated with accepting of death.
The conflict inside Phoenix Jackson is driven by determination to get to her destination. The struggle or conflict she faces is hidden throughout the story with symbols of death. Mrs. Jackson even speaks with her phantom conflict as if to scare death off for just a little longer. The dialogue is snark as if she is in an argument with the outdoor elements. These brief conversations also give insight into the delusional mind of Phoenix as she tries to reason with things she experience on her journey. Her experiences are loaded with literary elements like metaphors, similes and symbols all representing death, dying and old age. Determination and sacrifice are a main theme in the story and conflicts are obstacles on the path that Phoenix Jackson made for her grandson(Shmoop,2008.) Her demeanor towards these conflicts, although invisible entities show how she motivates herself to continue.
As Phoenix struggles on this journey it shows that determination is a state of mind as we all move through our lives. Recognizing her conflict helps us consider a path or a change within our own worlds and helps us remember to move forward regardless of obstacles or conflicts.
Similarly to the above theme of sacrifice “A Father’s Story” written by Andre Dubus in 1983 is a story of a father’s sacrifice for his daughter. Luke Ripley the main character also a father of four narrates the tale with strong implications of his faith and respect for the local catholic church. Figurative language depicting his persona towards his solitary life is described as content and routine. His close friendship with the pastor also highlights his strong catholic faith as Luke foreshadows the story calling it the hardest “trial” which indicates the conflict that soon arises within himself of morals and ethics verse love and sacrifice for his only daughter. His daughter who hits a man while driving home drunk, confides in her father and admits of the crime. His parental instinct to protect his daughter made no hesitation to search for the boy who is dead.
His debate with God to cover up the murder his daughter committed is wrong he realizes but, the thought of his only daughter in trouble out weighed any ethical though. He even tries to reason with his own action by speaking with god “You’ve never had a daughter” (Clugston,2014.)
The meaning that these conflicts represent are a parent’s unconditional love and sacrifice regardless of the child’s action. The struggle Luke has within his own faith allows him to reason with his actions but leaves the reader with uneasy feelings(Shmoop,2008.) Considering fundamental human rights the story and it’s plot asks the reader to question what they would do if they had to make a similar decision to protect our own child
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). A&P. Retrieved July 16, 2015 from http://www.shmoop.com/ap-updike/