I need help coming up with an argument for my work based on Outcast/Outsider in "A Worn Path".There seem to be racism in "A Worn Path" but I need help to formulate a argument based on...

I need help coming up with an argument for my work based on Outcast/Outsider in "A Worn Path".

There seem to be racism in "A Worn Path" but I need help to formulate a argument based on outsider/outcast.

Asked on by ericgu2289

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lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

To come up with a good thesis you need to then ask yourself, what is Welty trying to show about life. You are right -- you need to take the idea and connect it to something you want to prove about the character beyond a summary of plot points.  Some questions you could ask:  Does Pheonix's being an outsider make her a stonger person?  Does Pheonix's race or being an outsider reveal something about the society in which she lives, beyond the fact that some of the people she encounters are racist?  What has Pheonix learned about herself because she is an outcast?  Is she, in fact, an outcast or merely an outsider -- I think those two topics are distinct from one another. The answers to any of the above questions, or another like it, will give you a argumentive thesis for this story.  Review a list of themes for the story and see if you can make a connection that way.

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Clearly there are plenty of examples of racism in the story which you can use to demonstrate how Phoenix is an outsider. Consider her meeting with the white hunter who initially is friendly with her but then his actions have more menacing overtones:

...then he laughed and lifted his gun and pointed it at Phoenix.

She stood straight and faced him.

"Doesn't the gun scare you?" he said, still pointing it.

"No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done."

Phoenix is definitely an "outsider" in the way that she is treated by whites, as this episode demonstrates. It is clear that the white hunter points his gun at Phoenix on a whim, and also it is clear that Phoenix is not surprised by this behaviour.

Another episode you will want to talk about occurs when Phoenix reaches town and tries to get the medicine she needs for her grandson. The staff in the doctor's automatically assume she is a "charity case", and then verbally abuse her as she does not respond to their impertinence. She is patronised and treated badly, and later on Phoenix herself makes it clear that she is an outsider not just because of her skin colour but also because of her lack of education:

"I am an old woman without an education."

Therefore Phoenix is an outsider in lots of different senses: in terms of her race, in terms of her social standing, in terms of geography and where she lives and in terms of her level of education. Hope this helps!

ericgu22's profile pic

ericgu22 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Yes, I do understand that racism plays a big role in there.  But i need help coming up with an argument instead of writing how racism is played in the story. The argument can be relating to other characters or based on the story, something that I can argue about maybe based on her being an outsider which is racism. Thanks

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