Life is a voyage that forces people to conform to different reactions under different circumstances. The character of an individual can be loosely defined as, the response to different actions under seemingly diverse conditions. Eudora Welty uses Phoenix Jackson as the protagonist in her short story, A Worn Path. Phoenix Jackson undergoes various character transformations throughout the story.
Firstly, Phoenix is portrayed as being determined. Phoenix sets for a voyage to the city with an aim of getting drugs for her ailing grandson at home. Her grandson suffers from a throat infection that is recurrent. Consequently, he is not able to breathe properly or swallow whenever his throat infection is at its best. Phoenix is old, frail and weak; but this does not deter her from making long trips to the City to get medication for her grandson. (Saunders 66).Her voyage is risky and challenging for an elderly woman like her, however, she is full of determination to get to the city. Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and wild animals!(Welty A Worn Path). Phoenix determination is revealed by her zeal to venture into the city despite all the anticipated challenges. She does not surrender even when she is caught by her dress in thick thorny bushes. Phoenix manages to free herself safely without causing any injuries to her dress or her body Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks passno, sir. (Welty A Worn Path). Phoenix determination is also reflected when she refuses to be deterred by the white hunters persuasion to go back home. I bound to go to town, mister (Welty A Worn Path).
Phoenixs character is also portrayed to be loving and caring. Her deep love for grandson compels her to go to fetch drugs from the city despite her fragile and weakly state. She sets for her lengthy voyage to the city without any food or water to rejuvenate her strength on the way. At the hospital, a nurse exposes Phoenixs loving nature while giving a detailed description of her. She doesnt come for herself, she has a little grandson (Welty A Worn Path). She makes these trips just as regular as clockwork (Welty A Worn Path). Phoenix feels awful for stealing the Nickel, which fell from the white hunters pocket. However, her actions are later justified by her plans to buy a Christmas gift for her ailing grandson to cheer him up. Phoenix is guided by her deep love for her grandson to do something out of her comfort zone to please him. Phoenix description of her ailing grandson betrays her deep concern and remorseful feelings she has towards her grandson. She considers her grandson as the only family she has in the world, and she is very hopeful that he will live. Phoenix is particularly proud of her grandson perseverance and humility amidst the face of hardships. We is the only two left in the world, he going to last (Welty A Worn Path).
Phoenix comes across as being bold and courageous. Despite her elderly and vulnerable state, she undertakes regular lengthy risky trips through the forest to the city to get drugs for her grandson. Phoenix is not afraid as she traverses through bushes and thickets. The Old Phoenix said, 'Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and wild animals! (Welty A Worn Path). Her courage seems to propel her to overcome challenges posed by the topography of the land. Phoenix dares to walk along a log that was laid across a creek to the other side of the terrain. Owing to her lack of balance and her elderly state, it would appear too risky for her to walk across the creek. Phoenix bold character is also reflected when she crawls and creeps to go through a barbed wire. Although she is at risk of getting her flesh pricked and her dress torn by the barbed wire, Phoenix does not chicken out. She does not have any money for servicing medical attention in case she gets injured, but she takes the risk. In her previous trips to the city, Phoenix risks being attacked by snakes and bulls. A pleasure I don't see no two-headed snake coming around that tree, where it come once. It took a while to get by him, back in the summer (Welty A Worn Path). Phoenixs courage is also noted when she dares talk to a scarecrow that she had initially thought it to be a ghost. She dares to ask the ghost questions about its identity, something that would require a lot of guts. Ghost! 'who be you the ghost of? For I have heard of nary death close by (Welty A Worn Path). Phoenix tries to wrestle a fierce dog she encounters in the forest despite her frail state. The white hunter is impressed by Phoenix courage when she does not flinch or surrender even at gun point. Doesn't the gun scare you? (Welty A Worn Path). However, despite all these situations, Phoenix bold and courageous nature does not allow her to retreat.
Welty Eudora. A Worn Path. Atlantic Monthly Group. February 1941. Web.
Saunders, James Robert. "A Worn Path": The Eternal Quest of Welty's Phoenix Jackson." The Southern Literary Journal (1992): 62-73.
Ardolino, Frank R. "Life Out of Death: Ancient Myth and Ritual in Welty's' A Worn Path'." Notes on Mississippi Writers. Print (1976): 1-9.
Isaacs, Neil D. "Life for Phoenix." The Sewanee Review (1963). Print.
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