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Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story - Essay Example

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In the essay “Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story,” the author discusses theme and narrative elements such as plot, point of view, tone, setting, character, and symbolism, which are closely connected in every type of narrative. Setting and character are two fundamental elements of a narrative…
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Theme and Narrative Elements in the Short Story
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Thus, Eudora Welty abruptly and effectively introduces the time of year (December) and the geographic location (the South) at the beginning section of the story, apart from identifying the main character, an old Negro woman (Phoenix Jackson). Setting plays a crucial role in Welty’s “A Worn Path” as it is effective in stimulating the reader’s imagination at the initial stage of the story. In fact, the opening five paragraphs of the story offer an introduction to the setting and the readers are carried away to the world of the narrative. “It was December—a bright frozen day in the early morning. Far out in the country, there was an old Negro woman with her head tied red rag, coming along a path through the pinewoods. Her name was Phoenix Jackson.” (Welty, 1941). This is the way the author opens her story and a detailed description of the character follows in the succeeding sections. It is important to recognize that the setting of the story is a rural, cold, early morning in December in the South. A careful analysis of the setting of the story confirms that the story writer effectively puts boundaries around the action when she introduces the South as the geographic location and December as the time of year in which the action occurs. Significantly, the factual and descriptive information about the main character and the setting offered by the author at the opening section plainly creates the environment for the conflicts and action in the story. Along with the setting, the characters of the story also contribute to the effective communication of the major themes of the narrative to the readers. In the cold, early morning setting in December in the South, the author introduces her major character, Phoenix Jackson, an elderly African-American woman, who walked slowly in the dark pine shadows. “She wore a dark striped dress reaching down to her shoe tops, and an equally long apron of bleached sugar sacks, with a full pocket: all neat and tidy, but every time she took a step she might have fallen over her shoelaces, which dragged from her unlaced shoes. She looked straight ahead. Her eyes were blue with age.” (Welty, 1941). This description is effective in creating a permanent image of the character in the minds of the readers and it helps in the narration of the story and its themes. In a reflective investigation of the themes in “A Worn Path,” it becomes evident that the author presents the major character, Phoenix Jackson, as making a journey or a quest and she is on her travel by herself, with no one to help her on the way. Whereas the author highlights poverty surrounding Phoenix as well as her old age, the major theme of the story is the journey itself, which symbolizes her love for her grandson. In other words, the most striking element of the story is the protagonist’s journey, which is guided by her love for her grandson, and the underlying theme of the story is the meaning of life as realized by Phoenix. Therefore, it is important to recognize that the external environment and internal conditions suggested by the setting and characters of the story have a close connection to the major theme of Eudora Welty’s short story “A Worn Path”. Reference Welty, Eudora. (1941). “A Worn Path.” A Curtain of Green and Other Stories. Read More
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