Discuss Phoenix's dialect in "A Worn Path."

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Phoenix Jackson's dialect is used to characterize her as a resilient, Southern Black woman.

When Phoenix mistakes a scarecrow for a ghost, she laughs at her own confusion, attributing the error to her age:

I ought to be shut up for good ... My senses is gone. I too old....

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Phoenix Jackson's dialect is used to characterize her as a resilient, Southern Black woman.

When Phoenix mistakes a scarecrow for a ghost, she laughs at her own confusion, attributing the error to her age:

I ought to be shut up for good ... My senses is gone. I too old. I the oldest people I ever know.

Phoenix drops verbs here ("I [am] too old") and also demonstrates pronoun disagreement ("I the oldest people"). These omissions and disagreement characterize her as likely lacking a formal education. A similar dialect pattern is seen when she enters the building in town: "Here I be."

When she is confronted by the man in the woods, he asks Phoenix if his gun scares her. She is confident in her reply: "No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done."

Again, Phoenix's dialect reflects the omission of verbs but also demonstrates respect for the man who stands in her path with a gun. Phoenix's reply thus conveys both dignity and resilience, which are captured in her simple and straightforward dialect.

"A Worn Path" was published in 1941, so Phoenix was likely born sometime before the Civil War began. She has therefore experienced great adversity, particularly in the setting of Mississippi. Dialect is used to demonstrate the innate strength that has developed despite Phoenix's humble life.

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