What techniques does Welty use to suggest the laboriousness of Phoenix's trip in "A Worn Path"?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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Welty uses such clear descriptions in her story. She uses metaphorical language to create a picture for the reader. The reader can see the labor that Phoenix undergoes:

Welty has been praised from early on for her use of language. In using similes, she makes vivid comparisons that help the reader form a mind's eye picture of the action.

The reader can clearly see the struggle Phoenix is undergoing. Through Welty's use of similes, the reader gets a clear picture of how aged Phoenix really is:

One such simile in this story occurs in the description of Phoenix Jackson's face: "Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead."

The descriptions are so well defined until the reader can see the tired feeling that Phoenix feels. The journey is difficult. Phoenix must battle uphill climbing. She complains throughout her journey:

As the path goes up a hill, she complains about how difficult walking becomes. It becomes evident that she has made this journey many times before; she is familiar with all the twists and turns in the trail. She talks aimlessly to herself. Her eyesight is poor, and she catches her skirt in the thorns on a bush.

Phoenix must traverse across a log in a stream. There are no short cuts. Everything is a battle. As Phoenix drudges along, the reader is as tired as Phoenix. Welty does a good job in her third person limited point of view. The reader can see Phoenix in her struggle throughout her journey and empathize:

"A Worn Path" is told from a third-person limited point of view. This allows the reader to empathize with Phoenix, because her thoughts and actions are shown. Yet, in third-person, the reader is allowed to view Phoenix from a distance, and thereby see her as others see her.

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