Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path” is a brief story regarding Phoenix Jackson, the protagonist of the narrative. She is an aged African-American woman on a trip to a hospital in Natchez city to obtain some specific medicine for her grandson (Welty, 1941). Jackson’s grandson unintentionally swallowed lye some years ago which burned his throat, and he needs the medicine to heal him. During her journey, Jackson encounters several obstacles. Since it is a winter period, the whole mountain is covered with frost, and this makes it difficult for her to cross the mountain. Other than the frost, Jackson’s physical age, poor eyesight, and mental fatigue further make her journey hard. She also had to cross streams, crawl underneath a barbed-wire fence, face the danger of being alone in the woods, or being shot by a hunter. Despite all these challenges, Jackson does not give up till she obtains the medicine.
On the other hand, “The Price of Eggs in China” by Don Lee is a story regarding love and art. Dean Kaneshiro is the protagonist in the story and a thirty –year old furniture builder who makes beautiful furniture, which are displayed in numerous significant museums. Kaneshiro is dating Caroline Yip, who has had a successful publication of a poetry book in the past. Because Marcella Ahn, a good-looking young female with long hair, also published a poetry book at a similar time, the press came to know Caroline as “Oriental Hair Poet No. 1” and Marcella as “Oriental Hair Poet No. 2” Lee, 2008). While Marcella’s poetry received positive feedback, Caroline’s work was heavily criticized, received less praise, and consequently, she was viewed as a less talented writer. Her reputation in the literary world was tainted, which made her hide from the limelight and work as a waitress in a tiny remote town. As a result, rivalry started to develop between these two females. The story commences with Marcella moving into the neighborhood where Kaneshiro and his girlfriend resides, and turns everything upside down. Caroline believes that Marcella, who is her old rival, moved into that neighborhood, specifically to track her down and make her life a living hell. From Kaneshiro being hired by Marcella to create a custom chair for her, Caroline suspects deception and evil behind Marcella’s acts. As the rivalry and hatred between the two women heightens, Kaneshiro becomes miserable and desires for the entire situation to come to an end so that they can resume their normal lives. Consequently, this desire pushes him to set ablaze his stock of wood with the intention of framing Marcella for it (Lee. 2008). In the end, Marcella disappears without a trace from the literary world, and Dean and Caroline’s relationship is restored. In addition, Caroline regains her literary reputation, which she once lost to her rival, Marcella. This is an interesting and engaging tale that tests Kaneshiro’s loyalty to his work and challenges his love for Caroline. This paper compares and contrasts the theme of love in Eudora Welty’s A Worn Path, Don Lee’s The Price of Eggs in China, Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried and Ibsen Henrik’s A Doll’s House.
Comparison and Contrast of the Theme of Love in Eudora Welty’s A Worn Path, Don Lee’s The Price of Eggs in China
Both Jackson of Eudora Welty’s A Worn Path and Kaneshiro of Don Lee’s The Price of Eggs in China express unselfish love towards their loved ones. In “A Worn Path” for instance, Jackson is presented as a loving and caring grandmother who is devoted to her grandson’s wellbeing. That love drives her to take a journey that is full of challenges in order to obtain help for her ailing grandson (Welty, 1941). For instance, the snow that covered the mountains made it hard for her to walk as well as the barbed-wire fence which she had to crawl beneath (Welty, 1941). Because of her age, Jackson would have given up, but she was determined to see her grandson healed. This is an illustration of Jackson’s undying love and selfless concern that she had towards her grandson. Similarly, Kaneshiro, is presented as a talented furniture builder whose creations are exhibited in numerous museums. However, when Marcella moves into their neighborhood, trouble begins for both him and Caroline. The desire to settle old scores between Marcella and Caroline pushes the former to want to get close to Caroline’s man by pretending to want a custom-made wooden chair in order to make her jealous. Kaneshiro’s selfless love towards Caroline is seen when he senses that Marcella’s presence is threatening his girlfriend. Despite the fact that he values his art, he decides to burn the zelkova wood that he had purchased for his artwork in order to protect Caroline (Lee, 2008). He is ready to sacrifice his artwork that he holds dear for the sake of Caroline’s wellbeing; an indication that Kaneshiro places his girlfriend above all other things in his life. To me, this is a show of selfless love and care.
In addition, both Jackson and Kaneshiro are extraordinarily determined in their endeavors. Jackson’s main quest is to obtain medicine that will cure his grandson. She is aware that without the medicine, her grandson’s throat would probably remain swollen and unhealed forever. That is why she is determined to get the cure irrespective of what she had to undergo. Considering the extreme weather conditions during the winter time when Jackson made her journey to the city coupled with the endless obstructions she faced, it would have been easier for her to surrender and return home, but she did not (Welty, 1941). She managed to overcome all the obstacles and acquired the medication for her grandson. Likewise, Kaneshiro is a very determined person as evident in the text. For example, when Marcella hires him to make a custom chair for her, he accordingly measures her for the chair, taking his work very seriously. He has self-imposed stringent rules which he follows in his work, barely permitting him to communicate with his customers while working (Lee, 2008). In addition, his determination in producing quality work is evidenced by the grant he won as recognition of his extraordinary work. Another similarity between Jackson and KaneShiro is their humble living standards. Jackson’s poverty forces her to steal money from the hunter to purchase a present for her grandson during Christmas. On the other hand, the 10-year old truck, small house and cheap furniture, all show the humble lifestyle of Kaneshiro.
Despite the similarities between the two characters, they also differ in several ways. For instance, in “A Worn Path”, Jackson is an aged female, while Kaneshiro is a young male in his early thirties. In addition, we are told that Jackson picked a nickel that had fallen from the white hunter’s pocket and placed in her apron (Welty, 1941). This is stealing, but I guess she did it because she wanted to purchase a Christmas gift for her grandson. On the other and, Kaneshiro does not have any traits of stealing; at least we are not told so from the story. While Jackson is full of life and outspoken, Kaneshiro is a quiet guy who speaks minimally, and is serious about his work. In conclusion, both Jackson and Kaneshiro are fantastic characters who despite their minor differences express selfless love towards their dear ones and are determined in what they do.
Love in Tim O'brien’s The Things They Carried and Ibsen Henrik’s A Doll's House
From “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’brien, it is evident that Lt. Jimmy Cross has obsessive love for Martha. Despite Martha being a Lutheran missionary, Jimmy’s love for Martha does not die; he still wants to touch her, even after staying away from her for a long period of time (O’Brien, 2009). For instance, he found himself unintentionally thinking about Martha when he was checking on Lee Strunk. According to the author, Lt. tried to focus on the war and Lee Strunk, but his love for her was overwhelming and he could not concentrate. This is obsessive love because Jimmy’s constant thoughts about Martha make him desire to be with her physically, yet it is not possible. On the other hand, in Act two of Ibsen Henrik’s “A Doll’s House”, we see Dr. Rank who is a family friend declaring to Nora Helmer that he has been in love with her secretly for some time (Henrik, 2009). Nora denies that she loves him romantically, but says that she only loves him as a friend. Contrary to Jimmy who loves Martha genuinely, Nora and her husband, Torvald realizes in the end that they never truly loved each other, and consequently, she leaves him.