Allusions to Christ as a suffering figure that overcomes adversity to be resurrected for something better is used to provide a layer of imagery connecting his story to that of Phoenix. The phoenix as an ancient mythic symbol of rebirth was co-opted into Christian iconography as secret way of representing Christ. Another example is the woman who ties Phoenix’s shoes, an image that resonates with the scripture passage of Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Jesus.
The name of the protagonist is the first place to start looking for bird imagery. While the logical assumption is that the birds are around in this story to underscore how Phoenix has managed to "take flight" from the ugly and difficult circumstances into which she was born, their presence is a bit more complex. For instance, as she crosses through the cornfield, she comes up against a buzzard, which could be taken as foreshadowing of either her death or her grandson’s eventual succumbing to illness. The hunter sees innocent birds as prey and, of course, there’s the scarecrow whose job is keep birds from taking what does not belong to them.
The last lingering image of the story, which resonates quite strongly, is that of the little paper windmill Phoenix is off to get as a surprise for her grandson. The windmill is an image related to circularity (of life), perseverance in doing a single thing over and over and over again, and the almost magical ability to transform something that cannot be seen into engines helping provide the necessities for sustenance and existence. This image, then, evokes Phoenix herself.
A Worn Path Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for A Worn Path is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Note, Phoenix is an old woman. Her journey consists of traversing the landscape, avoiding animals, walking uphill, crossing the creek on a log, crawling under barbed wire, and an attack by a dog. This would be a difficult journey for a younger...