The text feels the theme of the story A Worn Path is about sacrificial love. I believe that while short, the story has multiple themes. I believe another theme is the era of the story itself.
Not enslaved, not free. The story examines a woman who was alive at the "surrender", now living in what seems the 1930's. She is a lasting symbol of an era 65 years removed. The name the woman Phoenix (the symbol of resurrection) indicates a theme of her constantly battling against the world on a daily basis.I believe the genius of this story is that the author writes herself out of the story. A majority of the information is passed through Phoenix's speech.
I believe it allowed the story to contain multiple themes. Her speaking to herself pushes the theme of single minded purpose, devotion to her grandson. Phoenix is the last living relative to a 4-6 year old boy, a boy who I think is the only thing keeping Phoenix alive.A second theme religion, is evident in her thoughts of God as she picks up the hunter's nickel. The Christmas season is mentioned multiple times also. She also thanks the lord his snakes are holed up in the winter, as she recalls seeing a two headed snake around a tree in the summer.
Racism is evident any time Phoenix interacts with other characters. The hunter marginalizes her journey and points a weapon at her. The nurse assumes she is a charity cases as soon as Phoenix enters the clinic.As I stated above, I believe the author using a third person limited point of view and letting Phoenix tell a majority of her own story allows multiple themes to be intertwined. Once other characters interact with Phoenix, you involve another theme i.e.
racism or religion.The story uses the settings to establish points of the themes found in the story. The season is winter and it is bitterly cold outside, yet Phoenix making the journey like clockwork helps establish the devotional love theme. Having the hunter help her out of a ditch only to point a weapon at her adds to the racism theme. When Phoenix arrives in the city and sees the red and green Christmas lights and a lady walking with a "stack of red, green and silver wrapped presents" adds to the religious theme.
The Worn Path is full of symbols, starting with the lead characters name Phoenix, the Egyptian bird of resurrection. The title indicates the woman has walked this path since the civil war and will walk it until she dies. During her walk she dreams twice, these symbolize her failing sanity. Phoenix herself states the log across the creek is the trial.
She compares her bones to weeds springy enough not to have been broken by the fall into the ditch.All of these literary elements contribute to a short story with at least three themes. Although short, the story uses every line to reinforce one of these three themes whether its Phoenix enduring the obstacles to make her way to the clinic, enduring racism, or displaying her religious faith. I cannot remember reading a story that had as much purpose driven content per line than A Worn Path.