What two ways does the author develop Phoenix's character in "A Worn Path"?

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gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

 There are several ways Welty characterizes Phoenix. Two of the more obvious are through external description and through the name given, which is symbolic. Look at the first paragraph:
It was December—a bright frozen day in the early morning.Far out in the country there was an old Negro woman with her head tied red rag, coming along a path through the pinewoods. Her name was Phoenix Jackson. She was very old and small and she walked slowly in the dark pine shadows, moving a little from side to side in her steps, with the balanced heaviness and lightness of a pendulum in a grand-father clock. She carried a thin, small cane made from an umbrella, and with this she kept tapping the frozen earth in front of her. This made a grave and persistent noise in the still air, that seemed meditative like the chirping of a solitary little bird."
 As for her name, this symbolizes that she will fall and rise again, be burned and returned to life, like the mythic bird.

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A Worn Path

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