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A Worn Path and A Jury of Her Peers

            Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" and Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers," are both short stories rife with symbolism. Welty's story is about the journey of an old African American woman named Phoenix Jackson, who endures many obstacles walking through the woods to the town of Natchez to get her grandson medication. Glaspell's much longer story is about two women, a farm woman, Mrs. Peters, and the sheriff's wife, Mrs. Hale, who are thrown together in the home of a jailed woman, Mrs. Wright, who is accused of murdering her husband. While the men are looking for evidence of this murder, the women are left alone to gather some of the Mrs. Wright's belongings, in doing so; they uncover details of her life and discover what may be just what the men are looking for. Different representations in the stories embody the individual characters, such as names, animals, and the environment. .
             Character names are very important in "A Jury of Her Peers." Minnie Wright is the protagonist and her name shows significant symbolism. Minnie could be interpreted as miniature or insignificant, which would epitomize this character as she seems to have withered as a person when she married John. Her name represents the subservient relationship she had with her husband, as is evident in the condition of her home, something a woman normally takes pride in but the lawyer points out the "[d]irty towels! Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?" (174). In contrast, the name of the protagonist in "A Worn Path," Phoenix Jackson, refers to the phoenix in Egyptian mythology. It was a bird that is said to have lived five hundred years, and then died in fire and was re-born from the ashes. Possibly the most incredible power is the determination of the phoenix to travel to Heliopolis in Egypt, the sun city, towards the end of its life, where her cycle starts over. It is a symbol of survival, hope, promise, and endurance.

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