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Welty vs. Frost

This essay serves to compare two literary works. One of those works is a short story by Welty by the name of "A Worn Path." The other literary work to be covered is "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. The forms of the two works are different but the metaphor and story device used in both stories is the same. However, the manifestations and lessons and/or interpretations drawn from the two works is entirely different with one of those tending to be a bit more somber and muted than the other but both works are a tad sad in their own way.

Compare and Contrast

As noted in the introduction, the common theme and device used in both stories is the road. Also in both cases, the road is quite obviously used in a metaphor. It is intimated and inferred quite clearly that the subject of Welty's work has dementia or some other disorder that gives her hallucinations but the road is the device and it focuses on the journey to see her grandson. In "The Road Not Taken," the metaphor of the road is also used but instead of a finite and definite journey, a fork in the road is used. In this way, they are similar yet quite obviously different.

Both of the works are a bit tricky with their overall story. Both stories are a mixed bag in terms of the fact that there are somber and positive edges to both stories. The Welty work is positive in that the woman who is traveling to see her grandson takes the trip without fail and with full devotion. This is certainly a positive. However, given the trials she faces, the fairly obvious mental faculty and acuity issues she has and the fac that her grandson is almost certainly dead already due to the lye incident, from suffocation in all likelihood, the story has some very sad elements.

Even the Frost work is a blend of emotions, but the Frost-created sadness is a bit more sly. Earlier on in the poem, Frost clearly states in his words that both roads are seemingly indistinct from the other and there is no obvious choice between the two. This definition and clarification gets to the point that he says both roads seem untraveled and absent of any obvious differences in who has traveled which path and why. However, when Frost flashes forward at the end, he ostensibly pens a tale that he took the road less traveled and this clearly contradicts what was said earlier in the work. In short, the poem fairly clearly speaks to a choice that does not have obvious indications as to which choice is best and there is a propensity, as a result, to bemoan and toil about the decision and perhaps having to polish up the story later and make it sound more adventurous and with better results than perhaps actually happened and/or the author (Frost) regrets that he never knew what would have happened had he gone the other way.

Another major difference is that one of the characters, that being of the Welty work, clearly has a goal in mind and is willing to proceed and no matter the cost. However, the Frost character, as depicted in his own "Road" work, toils about the decision and actively thinks ahead as to how he will spin it later and make it sound better than it was. Ms. Phoenix in the Welty poem has no hesitation and truly uses carpe diem as a mantra but the Frost character is tepid and non-committal and is too wrapped up in what could possibly go wrong with the choice made and what would have been so much better had the other choice been made. The rub between the two is that Phoenix was clearly lacking in her mental faculties in the clinical sense of the word and was gung-ho about her journey but Frost's character seem to have a good head on his shoulders but was too timid to make a firm choice and commit to it and be proud of whatever the outcome may be.

Both works are clearly the same in terms of the fact that they both focus on some sort of goal. Phoenix has the goal of reaching her grandson without fail while Frost's character is just generally focused on making the best choice. The difference, however, is that Frost's character does not know, from all appearances, what the desirable outcome and Phoenix is not the least bit confused about what she wants and cares not a bit about any challenges that may come to pass. Phoenix clearly has the "carpe diem" mindset that Frost's character seems to try and portend when thinking of future conversations about the journey that he is actually quite flummoxed about. This is especially ironic given the Frost character's solid mind and Phoenix's questionable one in the Welty work.

A major difference between the two works is that Frost's poem is devoid of any references to gender, race, age, historical era and so forth. One can assume, perhaps, that Frost is being introspective and is using himself as the subject but that is not clearly defined. However, in addition to her name there is a clear indication that Phoenix is black and elderly and this brings on a whole list of connotations regarding the civil rights era, what happened prior to that and how that figures into the whole story.

Another major difference is how the woods are depicted in each story. The Frost poem notes a forest is serene and it clearly states that neither of the possible paths that Frost's character can take looks any more attractive (or unattractive) than the other. This stands in sharp contrast to the Welty short story which depicts a forest fraught with perils even though the journey is well-known to Phoenix and she has traveled the path many times before.

However, a clear similarity between the stories is that the main characters both seem to have their facts wrong in one way or another. Phoenix is going to see a grandson that is almost certainly dead but she doesn't have the capabilities to know this or care. However, Frost's character knows full well what is going on and actively admits through the dialog that his thought process in choosing the path is seemingly based on what people have done and said previously while the yard spun supposedly spun down the road runs exactly counter to that line of thought. Again, this difference is in spite of the fact that Phoenix is mentally absent in ways she cannot control and Frost's character seemingly has full control but also seems to be detached from reality in at least one way.

On a similar note, Welty cares not a bit what others think of her plight or her journey as she is focused on the journey and helping her grandson. However, Frost's person is clear enamored with what others do or will think of the choices he made based in part or in whole on how he will spin the story when it comes time to recite it even if the story does not match reality. Frost's character is clearly fixated on what others do or will think and it's not even a factor for Phoenix in the Welty story. It is clear that even with her dementia, Phoenix is about as self-actualized and self-reliable as she can be but Frost's person is nowhere close to that point.

To go back to the difference side of the ledger, it is clear that the two characters react quite differently to crises. Welty's unquestioned and immediate response is to spring to action and get the medicine to her grandson. By contrast, Frost's character is paralyzed with indecision. This relates to the self-actualization noted above. Frost's man needs to determine what he wants to do and just do it. He should take the fork in the road that best defines what he wants to do with life and the journey in. Even with the challenges of her dementia and the journey itself, Phoenix is not limited in this regard in any way.

Another way that the story's characters are different is that Phoenix in the Welty story is focused on the present and nothing else and Frost's work is focused on how a current choice will affect the future. This is no concern about fate or the future in Phoenix's mindset except to worry about getting the medicine to the grandson. Frost doesn't really define what the character is toiling about but he really does have to. That last point is another major difference. Both works relate to choices and why they are made and the time horizon perspective of the choice but the Frost work is not the least bit specific as what the clear factors in the choice are.

This brings the author of this report to another point and subject that…[continue]

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