New Historicism and a Worn Path

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Eudora Welty’s A Worn Path is a story about an elderly African American woman named Phoenix Jackson who embarks on a journey to the city. In the city, Phoenix needs to obtain medicine for her son whose throat has been damaged drinking lye several years ago. During Jackson’s travel, she encounters several obstacles, some dangerous and some mild. Written in 1941, this story describes what sort of life people like Phoenix Jackson lived in 1940’s America . Slavery in America was abolished in 1865 after the Southern States had surrendered to the Northern States in the Civil War. Racial segregation, however, did not end with the conclusion of slavery. African Americans endured years of racial inequality because of Jim Crow Laws that were passed, legally separating blacks from whites in areas and activities (Jim Crow Law ). White people, as a result of these laws, continued treating African Americans as inferior people. An example of this is evident when Phoenix Jackson meets the white hunter in the forest. The hunter shows Phoenix little respect after helping her to her feet, calling her “colored” and a “Granny” (Welty). Nearing the end of their conversation, the hunter points his gun at Phoenix and asks if the gun scares her, disrespecting her even further. Again, in the city, Phoenix Jackson experiences troubles with social equality. Realizing her shoes are untied, Jackson stands in the street while people pass her by, waiting for the chance to ask someone to help lace her shoes. Phoenix asks a woman to lace her shoes and she complies, even though this woman is described as someone who is in a higher social class than Phoenix. This instance demonstrates the improving point of view held by white people in regards to African Americans. The woman who helps tie Phoenix’s shoes shows little hesitation in doing so, thinking little of the differences in their racial
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