How would I describe Phoenix Jackson's traits with support from "A Worn Path"?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Help with Analysis of Phoenix Jackson in "A Worn Path"

In the story "A Worn Path" how would I describe the personality of Phoenix Jackson and what aspects of the story can support my essay?

Phoenix Jackson is a lady. She has pride and dignity. When she arrives in town after her arduous journey, she stops a woman on the street and asks her to tie her shoes. Phoenix can't do this simple task herself because of her age. Phoenix says, "Do all right for out in the country, but wouldn't look right to go in a big building."

Phoenix is completely self-sacrificing. When she steals the hunter's nickel, she says to herself, "God watching me the whole time. I come to stealing. Later, in town, the nurse asks if she could give Phoenix a few pennies. Phoenix says, "Five pennies is a nickel." This is as close to begging as Phoenix most likely has ever come, but she needs another nickel to add to the one she has stolen so that she can buy a toy for her grandson.

There is nothing Phoenix will not do for the boy she loves. She even endures insult and humiliation when the attendant in the office hatefully calls her a "charity case" and tells her to "Speak up, Grandma." Phoenix endures this disrespect because she has to in order to complete her mission, but "a twitch to her face" suggests it isn't easy for her.


kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Phoenix Jackson is a caring, devoted, determined grandmother who will do whatever it takes, including putting her life in danger, to get the medicine her grandson needs. She is also brave and knows how to take advantage of situations she is in.  For example, she picks up a nickel after the hunter is distracted by one of his dogs in the forest.  She also knows how to play "dumb" at times and will resort to doing so to get what she wants (at the doctor's office, for example).  She is a very savvy woman who is absolutely resolute when it comes to her mission.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't know if I believe the nickels necessary reveal a more grasping quality as suggested by Lori Steinbach. I believe they can actually be used in support of the belief that Phoenix is eminently practical and committed to make life work for her in any way possible. She is not above getting money out of whites, especially when, like the hunter, they abuse and mistreat her. She is above all pragmatic in her resilience.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

She is definitely a stubborn woman who will not allow others or life to didtate to her what she should be doing.  She is dedicated to her grandson.  She is optimistic that he will still be living when she returns with the medicine.  She has faith that everything will be OK despite the trials she faces on the trip and the fear/thoughts that maybe she won't get back on time to help her grandson.

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Strength--although she's elderly, she can walk from her home to the doctor's office in town.

Perseverance--despite poor eyesight, falling into a ditch, and encountering a mean dog and a strange man, she keeps going.

Love--she endures the long walk to town because she loves her grandson.

Will power--goes along with peseverance.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Phoenix perseveres despite obstacles of every kind. Physically her journey is arduous. Emotionally she must accept the abuse of the white hunter. spiritually she must deal with the heartache of a sick grandson. Despite all these elements, she perseveres...and will certainly continue to do so.