In what ways are Phoenix's experiences universal?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator
In what ways are Phoenix's experiences in "A Worn Path" universal?

In what ways are Phoenix's experiences universal?

Phoenix's experiences are universal also because Welty presents them in an emotional context. Phoenix is a poor, elderly African-American woman living in the American South in an earlier part of the 20th century. Her feelings, however, are not limited to any particular time, place, age, race, gender, or socio-economic group. During the course of her dangerous journey, Phoenix feels fear, love, compassion, shame, anger, and courage. Who couldn't identify with those?

Phoenix represents all that is good and decent in human beings. When she finally gets to town and asks the woman to tie her shoes for her, she shows such dignity. When she stands in front of the stupid woman who insults her, she endures the humiliation. She will make any personal sacrifice to bring relief to her little grandson. Anyone who has ever loved a child will understand Phoenix.

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Many writers have used the idea of a journey to make larger observations about life. In fact "A Worn Path" can be seen as an archetype, or major example, of this type of story. Phoenix's walk on the "worn path" parallel the stages of life itself. She encounters the same kinds of obstacles and triumphs that many of us do. If you examine Welty's story carefully, you can see her encountering problems, successes, shame and even happiness. These emotions are common to all people as they travel the road of life.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ignoring and enduring what does not matter in the pursuit of what does matter is something Phoenix understands and lives. She endures what she must for as long as she must in order to accomplish her labor of love. That's something we've all experienced for ourselves, either as Phoenix or as the grandson.

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A Worn Path

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