A Worn Path Questions and Answers
by Eudora Welty

A Worn Path book cover
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What are five conflicts in "A Worn Path"?

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Joelle Robison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty is about an elderly woman named Old Phoenix who travels along a familiar path to get medicine for her grandson. There are many obstacles that she faces along the way, and different types of conflict are present within the story. Man versus man conflict is shown through the challenge of her having to take care of her grandson. They are the only two people each other has, so she must endure this difficult journey regularly to get medicine for his throat after he swallowed lye a few years ago. Man versus self is shown through her age and frailty. She has trouble walking, and uses a cane to do so, and this works against her as she has to traverse dense forests and hills. Man versus animal is shown several times throughout the story, but one of the most obvious examples is the large black dog that appeared unexpectedly. Because of the scare, she falls into a ditch despite how friendly the dog is. The most common type of conflict within this story is man versus nature. Some examples of this are the hill she has to climb, during which, “Something always take a hold of me on this hill—pleads I should stay,” the thorny bush that catch her dress, the log she must use to cross the creek, and getting through the corn maze without a path.

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janeyb eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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As I've noted in other questions asked about "main conflict" in stories, I've always found that its easiest to deem the answers when looking at the Themes of a novel. The theme will tell you what the characters had to overcome, what the author is trying to get across. The themes for A worn Path include Race and Racism, Duty and Responsibility, Guilt, and Resurrection. Now to come up with the conflicts, think about why that is a theme, and what it meant to the story. For instance, with Race and Racism as a theme, you know that the main character Phoenix in this case, had to deal with it, and in this case it hampered her ability to continue with her journey-thus, racism (or the white hunter and his subtle racism) is a main conflict in the story. In Duty and Responsibility think about why Phoenix is walking into town with her bad eyesight, etc... to get medicine for her grandson. As you can see, using the themes is a great way to get to the main conflicts of a story.

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