Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" is a story of undying love. It chronicles the journey of Phoenix Jackson an old, nearly blind woman, as she travels from her home to Natchez in an effort to retrieve medicine for her grandson. Throughout the journey, she is subjected to many trials, from natural obstacles such as thorny bushes and downed trees to unnatural challenges such as barbed wire and a man with a gun. She also faces challenges due to the effects of her aged mind, which causes her to hallucinate and, at times, even forget what she is traveling for. Despite the adversity, she continues on, driven by her love for her grandson, who somehow swallowed lye and periodically needs medicine when his throat begins to swell shut. One of the major themes of the story is that people can overcome great obstacles in the name of love. While the obstacles that Phoenix faces may seem small to many, her blindness and age make them difficult and propel her journey toward epic, even mythological, status. No matter how difficult the journey becomes, she continues forward, not only achieving her goal but also cleverly finding ways to secure a toy for her grandson as well.
It is this latter aspect that is one of the most enjoyable parts of the story. Phoenix is not content to just accomplish her goal. She wants to take her grandson something nice as well. Her love for him is shown in every aspect of her being; even though she is a woman who has clearly been through a great deal in her life, she still focuses on the happiness of those she loves. On the other hand, one of the less-enjoyable parts of the story is the slight power trip of the traveling hunter. As Phoenix travels, she encounters a young white man with a dog and a rifle, who seems to take a little bit of pleasure in Phoenix's predicament and his perceived power over her. However, even in this moment of slightly veiled racism, Phoenix rises. The man unknowingly drops a nickel, and Phoenix carefully retrieves it and puts it in her apron pocket, later using it to purchase the toy for her grandson.
While not as well known as Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, Eudora Welty's short story serves as an equally heartwarming tale of love and giving during the holiday season. It ends with Phoenix leaving the doctor's office, medicine in hand, excited to stop by the store and buy her grandson a toy windmill before she begins the journey back to him. We are left with the impression that this woman has taken this journey over and over and will continue to do so, out of love for her grandson.