In "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty, why does the nurse mark the medicine as charity in her book?  

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In "A Worn Path," Phoenix is an elderly woman who walks into town to get some medicine for her grandson. Her grandson had swallowed lye so he needs medicine periodically. Although the journey is a long, difficult journey, Phoenix manages to get there on her own. She faces difficult circumstances as an elderly African American lady trying to get some medicine for her grandson. 

Phoenix does not have any money; therefore, the nurse marks the medicine as charity. She gives the medicine to Phoenix:

Arriving at her destination, the woman climbs a set of stairs and enters a doctor's office. The attendant assumes Phoenix is a charity case. The nurse replies that it is "just old Aunt Phoenix" who has come to get medicine for her grandson.

Phoenix has been before. The nurse recognizes her. No doubt, Phoenix definitely needs money. On her journey, when the white hunter drops a nickel on the ground, Phoenix scoops it up without the white hunter noticing. 

When Phoenix gets to town, she goes into the doctor's office. After the nurse marks the medicine as charity, she offers Phoenix five pennies. Again, Phoenix is excited over the five pennies. She now states that she has two nickels to buy her grandson a paper windmill. She is so appreciative of the few coins. 


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