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What actions or speeches are used to bring out the character traits of Phoenix Jackson...

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eddh915 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 27, 2009 at 10:54 PM via web

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What actions or speeches are used to bring out the character traits of Phoenix Jackson in "A Worn Path"

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 28, 2009 at 3:30 AM (Answer #1)

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Phoenix Jackson is an elderly woman, a bit infirm, but feisty and determined.  She sets out on a journey to get medicine for her grandson, a journey that takes her through a forest where there are many threats to her safety and her life.  She does not give up on her assigned task, however, overcoming all obstacles, even when she is frightened.

"Old Phoenix said, "Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and wild animals!. . . Keep out from under these feet, little bob-whites.... Keep the big wild hogs out of my path. Don't let none of those come running my direction. I got a long way."  (Welty)

Even when she catches her dress on some thorns, she is undeterred, she keep on going.

"I in the thorny bush," she said. "Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass, no sir. Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush." (Welty)

The character is described as committed to her journey, even when she encounters a man with a gun and a dog, and the man suggests that the old woman should go home, she is too old to be going to town by herself.

"Doesn't the gun scare you?" he said, still pointing it.

"No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done," she said, holding utterly still." (Welty)

"He smiled, and shouldered the gun. "Well, Granny," he said, "you must be a hundred years old, and scared of nothing. I'd give you a dime if I had any money with me. But you take my advice and stay home, and nothing will happen to you." (Welty)

She is a loving, caring Grandmother, devoted to her sick grandson, who swallowed lye, and now suffers, he is her only relative, and even though she is old, she still makes the trip to town to get the "soothing medicine" for her grandson.

"My little grandson, he sit up there in the house all wrapped up, waiting by himself," Phoenix went on. "We is the only two left in the world. He suffer and it don't seem to put him back at all. He got a sweet look. He going to last. He wear a little patch quilt and peep out holding his mouth open like a little bird. I remembers so plain now. I not going to forget him again, no, the whole enduring time. I could tell him from all the others in creation." (Welty)

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