race in “A worn Path” and “Desires Baby”

A Worn Path” is a short story by Eudora Welty that is set in the South. The story’s heroine is a black woman from Mississippi. The short story delves into the realities of class and race in the South during the slavery era. The author portrays race in the narrative in more nuanced terms, using betrayal and friendship to bring the subject to light. The problem depicted in this short story is identical to the one depicted in Desirees Baby. Desirees Baby is another short story set in Louisiana in the mid-nineteenth century on two white-owned plantations. The story revolves around Desiree who is a black woman that has been considered a white woman for the rest of her life. It is just that she realizes later that she is a black woman. This paper will compare and contrast the issues of race in the two stories.

In Desirees Baby, it can be identified that at a very young age, she is abandoned by her parents. The reason at the time was not known. Later, it was discovered that she was not of pure white origin but a child born from a black and white parent. As can be identified, Desiree was welcomed in the house at first and she was very happy as seen from the conversation;

“Yes, the child has grown, has changed,” said Madame Valmonde, slowly, as she replaced it beside its mother. “What does Armand say?”

Desiree’s face became suffused with a glow that was happiness itself. (Wolff 130)

In “A Worn Path, Phoenix is at first treated with respect from a man in the woods. Additionally, some other white people treat her better while others disrespect the grandma. From the two stories, it can be identified that not all the white people are evil or rather racists. Some are good people who want the best for mankind.

In A Worn Path, the lack people have been subjected as a poor lot. Phoenix for example resorts to stealing so that she can buy some of the materials she needs. However, Phoenix can be termed as being wasteful. AT one point, se steals a nickel from the hunter although she has seen “plenty [guns] go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done” (Bartel 288). She kicks her caution to the winds. The black people in Desirees baby have also been depicted as being poor. Unlike Phoenix, Desiree has the necessities that she needs as a result of giving birth to a boy for her master. She is later kicked from the house for being a black person something phoenix has been experiencing.

The stories have a small difference in the way it shows the relationship between the blacks and the whites. It can be identified that Phoenix is free with other white people. For instance this conversation between phoenix and a white man shows how positively they interact:

‘You scarecrow,’ she said. Her face lighted. ‘I ought to be shut up for good,’ she said with laughter. ‘My senses is gone. I too old. I the oldest people I ever know. Dance, old scarecrow,’ she said, ‘while I dancing with you.’

However, Desiree’s master is rough on the slaves and he punishes them even at the slightest mistake (Lewis, Katalin and Desiree 108). The differences may attribute to timeline of the events. One story seems to be set in an earlier period of slavery while the other is recently. Both stories have however been based in the south.

In conclusion, A worn path and Desirees baby have managed to show the kind of racism the black folks faced. Both women suffer in one way or another. Phoenix has however got used to this problem and she is freer. Desiree on the other hand has always lived like a white person and lacks that suffering many blacks underwent. Both stories have their similarities and differences but it still shows the effect of racism to both the whites and the blacks.

Works cited

Bartel, Roland. “Life and Death in Eudora Welty’s” A Worn Path”.” Studies in Short Fiction 14.3 (1977): 288.

Lewis, Denise C., Katalin Medvedev, and Desiree M. Seponski. “Awakening to the desires of older women: Deconstructing ageism within fashion magazines.” Journal of Aging Studies 25.2 (2011): 101-109.

Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. “Kate Chopin and the fiction of limits:” Desiree’s Baby”.” The Southern Literary Journal (1978): 123-133.

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