Because Phoenix is old, she has trouble seeing things such as the scarecrow which she mistakes for a ghost. How do her mistakes contribute to the impact of the story?

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I tend to think that Phoenix Jackson's challenges on her journey help to enhance her heroic element and help to accentuate her strength.  If the journey was simple, it would not have the same effect.  The fact the journey is so challenging and so much she has to endure is what makes it so significant that she undertakes it.  Phoenix Jackson's heroic qualities are enhanced through what she endures.  The challenges present in the journey itself, the encounters with the dog and the hunter pointing a gun at her, as well as the fact that she does not meet anyone who seems sincerely willing to help her are all elements in which that her journey is enhanced.  The mistakes that she makes also serves to testify to the amount of character and loyalty that she has.  It is only because of the loyalty to her grandson that she endures what she does.  She realizes, or it becomes evident, that senility is rapidly approaching and that her own condition is not in the best of capacity.  Yet, Phoenix does not hesitate in standing up for her grandson and helping get the medicine that will help him get better.  It is because of her mistakes and the challenges of the journey that it ends up meaning more to both the narrative and the reader's impressions of Phoenix.

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