How does Welty's description of Phoenix's appearance, speech, and behavior identify her with nature and with time itself in "The Worn Path"?

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Phoenix is shown as being identified with nature in the way that she is so familiar with the natural environment that she crosses and is not phased by any of the sights that she sees. She is described as being yet another of God's creatures on his planet, and is unperturbed by any fear of animals that could be watching her. Note the following quote:

Now and then there was a quivering in the thicket. Old Phoenix said, "Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons, and wild animals!... Keep out from under these feet, little bobwhites... Keep the big wild hogs out of my path. Don't let none of those come running in my direction. I got a long way."

Her kinship with nature is shown through her knowledge of plants and animals and of the terrain, which she has obviously travelled many times before. As to how Phoenix Jackson is identified with time, there is a sense in which her perseverance in overcoming any barrier, man-made or natural, to reach her goal, shows a certain timelessness in her character which is reflected in her physical appearance:

Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead, but a golden colour ran underneath, and the two knobs of her cheeks were illumined by a yellow burning under the dark.

She is a character who is at one and the same time described as being very old yet ageless, as the "golden colour" that runs underneath her skin hints at a certain timeless quality.

Read the study guide:
A Worn Path

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