Anna Grace Walker Dr. Bishop EN1123 19 May 2010 In Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path,” the main character, Phoenix Jackson, faces several different obstacles throughout the story. The older black woman is venturing far away from her home to fetch her sick grandson’s medicine. Phoenix has to deal with rude people and overgrown nature trails the entire way. Although Phoenix is well into her years, she overcomes the insulting individuals and the nature obstacles that she encounters. Phoenix does not let her age stop her from completing the long walk.
Although it is not revealed, she shows her age when she mistakes a scarecrow as a ghost and states, “My senses is gone. I too old! I the oldest person I ever know” (646). Phoenix knows she is too old to be making this journey, but she does not stop. She is in no condition to be making long difficult trips. When she finally arrives into town, she even has to stop a lady and ask “Please missy, will you lace up my shoe […] can’t lace it with a cane” (647). Her back is not strong enough to bend over and tie her own shoe.
It cannot be well enough to make the long hike. Phoenix does not let her aged mind and worn body hold her back from successfully going to town. Not only is Phoenix determined not to let her age stop her, she also refuses to listen to insults from others. The first man Phoenix comes in contact with quickly makes a rude comment. He encourages her to return home for her own safety. When Phoenix refuses, the hunter laughs and says, “I know you old colored people! Wouldn’t miss going to town to see Santa Claus” (647). The man instantly insults her race.
Instead of taking offense, Phoenix does not let this bother her. Phoenix finally arrives to the doctor’s office to receive the medicine. Instead of a friendly greeting, Phoenix is referred to as a “charity case” by the attendant behind the desk (648). She does not become discouraged by the attendant’s harsh words. Instead, she collects the medicine from the nurse and leaves. She could have easily let the words of others come between her and the goal, but Phoenix does not. She also overcomes many physical obstacles.
The long, overgrown path she takes to town is full of wild animals. She shows that she is not intimidated by the animals by yelling, “Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons, and wild animals […] I got a long way” (644). She knows that all sorts of animals are around in the woods, but she does not let fear stand in her way. Also, the path is not a straight shot. A creek stands in her way and Phoenix bravely “mount[s] the log and shut her eyes […] like a festival figure in some parade, she began to march across” (645).
She is not willing to let the creek stop her from making her way to town. She never even thinks of letting these dangerous things scare her away from completing her goal. In conclusion, Phoenix refuses to let her age, her peers, or her physical well-being get in the way of finishing her mission. It would be simpler for her to give in, or use her age and tired body as an excuse. She does not do this. Instead, she overcomes all the obstacles that come in her way.