A Worn Path

A Worn Path Irony

Dramatic Irony: Santa Claus

The hunter dismissively and condescendingly suggests that Phoenix is making this difficult trek into the city merely for the purpose of seeing Santa Claus. The implicit accusation is that she would only go to such trouble to receive charity. The explicit irony here is that her difficult trek is not for something inconsequential but for medicine to keep her grandson alive. Yet, another level of irony embedded within the scene is that the medicine actually is charity.

Situational Irony: Hunting Money

The hunter tells Phoenix that he would be willing to help her out with some change, but he just so happens not to have any money with him at the time. The irony works on two levels: one, the hunter is clearly lying since a nickel fell out of his pocket and, even sweeter, he actually did give her money, but just doesn’t realize it yet.

Situational Irony: Mythic Heroism

The overarching irony “A Worn Path” is the allusion to mythic quests and heroism in the story of a simple, uneducated, old black woman just walking to get her grandson’s medicine. Undercutting the irony is the story’s sincere affirmation that anyone can be a hero in the right circumstances.