The Character of Phoenix Jackson in Eudora Welty's A Worn Path
'A Worn Path' is the tale of the unstoppable love and care of a grandmother for her grandchild. Phoenix Jackson is Eudora Welty's main character and protagonist in A Worn Path.? Phoenix is an old, frail woman who attempts to proceed on a long and treacherous journey through the woods to Natchez. Phoenix strives forward despite frequent obstacles in her way that include her own failing health and her grandchild's slim chance of survival. As she takes this prolonged trek across the woods, many of her characteristics are revealed. Her tenacity, senility, and consideration that she displays throughout her long worn path ...view middle of the document...
Do not let none of those come running my direction. I got a long way (Welty 151).
She is determined to go down that path despite anything that might come between her and getting the medicine for her grandson. This shows that her body may be worn out, but the attitude that she takes and desire that she has in order to get the medicine for her grandson are not. Phoenix also knows that she has a long journey, but none of these animals or anything else phases her because she is a brave and strong-willed person, and she will do whatever it takes to care for her grandson.
Throughout the story, Phoenix exhibits signs of senility and delusions including her meeting with a scarecrow, which she initially thinks, is a man. Even though Phoenix(tm)s old age might have little affect on her, her feet are what lead her as she makes her way through the woods to the medical office in Natchez once a year. The trek is especially difficult because of her age, and in the process of struggling on she forgets the reason for the struggle? (Isaacs 37). Her senility is an implication that she will consequently not be able to make her long journey. Each time she makes her journey, her steps tend to get slower and slower. When Phoenix enters the medical office, she does not speak and appears disoriented. One of the nurses in the office asks Phoenix how her grandson is. Phoenix does not answer and ?displays a ?ceremonial stiffness(tm) as she sits bolt upright(tm) staring straight ahead, her face solemn and withdrawn into rigidity(tm) (Bartel 289).
Phoenix continues to sit there dumbly and unknowingly at the time until eventually a ?flame of comprehension [comes] across her face? (Welty 154). When the nurse finally asks if the grandson is dead:
Phoenix suddenly remembers and overcompensates. In her imagination she brings him back to life, her concluding comment sounding very much like the language of a person trying to revive the image of someone who has died: ?I remember so plain now. I not going to forget him again, no, the whole enduring time. I could tell him from all others in creation(tm) (Bartel 289).
The constant drifting of Phoenix (tm)s mind is an indication of Phoenix(tm)s old age catching up with her.
Consideration for her grandson is a characteristic that is also revealed in her character. The main reason why Phoenix makes this long journey is to get medicine for her grandson whom she loves dearly. Her love carries her forward as she patiently and persistently overcomes the obstacles she encounters [while on] her journey? (Evans 269-270). Phoenix is a caring individual who takes this long and agonizing worn path ?in order to redeem her grandson(tm)s life (Isaacs 40). Phoenix is her grandson(tm)s only support. Despite her love for her grandson, there is nothing anyone can do for the grandson, but she must take the worn path to get something to help her grandson endure the pain. The long journey that she takes is a symbol of her...