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What is the plot of "A Worn Path?

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kcollins12 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 19, 2012 at 12:50 AM via web

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What is the plot of "A Worn Path?

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pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted September 19, 2012 at 1:23 AM (Answer #1)

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"A Worn Path" begins with our main character, Phoenix Jackson, walking through a forest.  She carries an umbrella that she taps on the ground.  Because of the umbrella and the fact that she calls out to the forest's animals to stay out of her way, we can tell that she cannot see very well, but at the same time as she complains about it getting more difficult to walk the path we also know that it is a journey she has taken before.

After crossing a road, she pauses on a log to catch her breath.  We see more support for her old age as she imagines a boy bringing her a piece of cake; however, when she opens her eyes she realizes nothing is there.  As the path becomes more treacherous to climb, Phoenix believes that she has seen a ghost, which turns out to only be a scarecrow, and pushes a big dog away with her umbrella.  In her weakened state this just causes her to fall into a ditch. 

The dog's owner, a white hunter, mocks her trip to town telling her that it is too long of a journey and tells her to go back home.  She is determined to make it, so after scaring her by pointing his rifle at her, he allows her to continue on her way. 

When she gets to town it is decorated for Christmas.  Phoenix ignores it and goes to a doctor's office.  The nurse, recognizing her, introduces her as Phoenix, who has come to get her medicine for her grandson. Again, we see that she has made this long trip before.  The nurse hurries the old women to quickly tell what is wrong with her grandson ("You mustn't take up our time this way.") only to hear what she already knew- her grandson has swallowed lye and needs something to soothe his throat. Her grandson never appears in the story. But since we know Phoenix has made this trip several times, and the nurse already knows about his ailment, it can be inferred that he swallowed the lye several years before.  The nurse offers her some pennies, which Phoenix takes to buy a toy for her grandson.

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