Study Guide

A Worn Path Trees

By Eudora Welty

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Oak trees, pine trees, cypress trees, dead trees, sweet gum trees, live trees, trees with moss, trees with mistletoe… this story has lots of trees. Phoenix's wrinkles are even described as looking like a tree (2). As with birds, trees can have different meanings depending on their type, but some of the most common are life, wisdom, strength, and endurance.

In "A Worn Path," there is a mix of evergreens, trees that appear to live forever, and deciduous trees, trees that temporarily appear as if they've died when their leaves fall off. The use of both types of trees ties into the general exploration of life and death and the cycles between the two that Welty has going on in the story. Phoenix is at once evergreen herself, living on despite society's ominous disregard for her, and deciduous, appearing much more worn down than she seems to truly be.

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