Write a precise, well-developed sentence that states as fully as possible the theme of the story "A Worn Path." Remember to avoid cliches or oversimplification.

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edcon's profile pic

edcon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Because Eudora Welty was born and raised in Mississippi and spent a great deal of her adult life there, she was well aware of the difficulty of everyday life for African Americans in the South.

The protagonist of her 1941 short story "A Worn Path," Phoenix Jackson, is an elderly African-American woman who must walk to town to secure medicine for her ailing grandson. Along the way, she is menaced by a white man with dogs and treated with condescension by the staff of the clinic, but she accepts these humiliations as part of the landscape of her life.

A statement of theme could look something like this:

The worn path that Phoenix Jackson takes is an extended metaphor for the difficulty of the journey that elderly African-American women have taken for generations; she endures poverty, racism, ageism, and condescension while shouldering the burdens of her family.

amarang9's profile pic

amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

There are a few themes in "A Worn Path" that warrant inclusion in a thesis statement. So, the goal is to either focus on one of them or try to incorporate them all. This will be difficult to do in one statement. The themes most evident in this story are racism, duty, guilt, love, and resurrection. Phoenix Jackson must negotiate cultural (namely, the racist hunter) and physical obstacles in pursuit of medicine for her grandson. One way to say this is that she "rises again and again out of duty and determination, despite cultural and physical obstacles." This broadly addresses some of the themes but "rises again and again" is a bit of a cliche. Consider using a quote from the story as part of a thesis statement or try something poetic to avoid sounding cliche. (Although age, thorns, and hunters, doing their "appointed work," attempt to hold her back, Phoenix repeats her journey with a "fixed and ceremonial stiffness."

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