Popular with Literature classes, the symbolism in the piece and the lesson(s) to be learned from it are open to interpretation. Many critics have commented on the significance of the main character's name in relation to the folkloric phoenix, relating to her indomitable ability to rise again and make her journey.  Many writers argue that it emphasizes racial and economic inequalities in the Deep South during the Depression. It is similar to the story of Odysseus, who faces many trials along his journey. Welty herself has said it is a story about how a writer works.
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