Study Guide

A Worn Path Biblical Imagery

By Eudora Welty

Biblical Imagery

The story is packed with images that evoke passages from the Bible. There's a snake that hangs out around a tree (19), which recalls that infamous serpent from the Garden of Eden who tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit.

There's also the part where Phoenix walks through a field, "parting her way from side to side with the cane," (28) similar to the passage in Exodus when Moses stretches his hands out to part the Red Sea so that the Israelites can flee from the Egyptians to safety. There is also the third paragraph of "A Worn Path," in which Phoenix commands various woodland creatures. In Genesis, God gives man command over all the animals on earth, so Phoenix's authority is a shout-out to this moment in the Bible.

What's up with all these biblical references? The Bible is one of the Western world's most well-known texts, and it is a source of many basic human narratives: good and evil, trials and tests, faith, sacrifice, life, and death. Phoenix's story is about these things, too, and the biblical connections emphasize just how important her story and the stories of people like her are. These stories, like those in the Bible, are foundational to the lives we lead and the society we live in.

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