Analyze the minor characters in the story "Worn Path." Eudora Welty

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The minor characters of Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" are those characters who are either part of the cause of Phoenix Jackson's setting forth on the path to the clinic, along the way, or at the end of the worn path.

Phoenix's grandson

The pitiable "little bird" as Phoenix describes him, is the driving force of the story; his condition is the sole reason Phoenix tenaciously moves forth upon the path to the clinic in order to obtain medicine.  More than a physical being, the grandson acts as a spiritual guide for Phoenix; her love is what energizes her towards her goal.  In fact, some critics feel that the grandson is dead already.

The hunter

A stock character, the hunter acts and speaks in a stereotypical manner.  The hunter is the Southerner with the rifle and his dog, uncaring of anyone who comes along.  His remarks to Phoenix indicate his attitude of superiority to the "old colored people" like Phoenix.  For instance, he humorously asks her what she is doing on her back, helping her up.  But, while he gives her assistance, his patronizing attitude toward her is apparent in his remark that "colored people...wouldn't miss going to town to see Santa Claus."  He, then, turns his attention to his dogs, about whom he is more concerned.  In another instance, of his disregard for Phoenix, he tells her he would give her a dim, but he has nothing with him, not realizing that Phoenix has already taken a nickle which has fallen from his pocket.

The nurse

The nurse plays an important role in that she provides information to the readers and she effects the climax of the narrative.  A stock character, too, like the hunter, the nurse treats Phoenix in a condescending manner, as well:

"You mustn't take up our time this way," she says, exasperated when the woman lapses into a spell of forgetfulness, "Tell us quickly about your grandson, and get it over."

Like the hunter, the nurse represents the conventional opinion of blacks as inferior and not worthy of attention and respect that would be given to persons of another race.

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