In "The Worn Path," comment on the use of birds.

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One of the many fascinating aspects of this story is the way that birds are used as visual markers of the path that Phoenix Jackson takes and her progress along it. In the narrative that she gives us, along the road that the protagonist takes are littered many different kinds of birds, and these serve to show the distance that Phoenix Jackson has travelled and provide examples of nature that Phoenix Jackson interrogates or comments upon. For example, when she crawls through the fence, she sees a buzzard sitting and looking at her. Her response is to ask the buzzard, "Who you watching?" Just a few lines later, when she has passed the scarecrow and made her way to a wagon track, she sees quail that were "walking around like pullets, seeming all dainty and unseen." Again, Phoenix Jackson talks to them, saying: "Walk pretty... This the easy place. This the easy going."

The birds that appear in this short story therefore seem to act firstly as markers of the journey of the protagonist, but secondly also show the close relationship that Phoenix Jackson has with nature through the way that she interacts with them, asking them questions and talking to them as if they were other humans.

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A Worn Path

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