How does she explain where she is going to the hunter? How do we know how much old Phoenix loves her grandson?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the story, Phoenix Jackson meets a young white hunter on her way to town. When the hunter asks Phoenix where she is going, she tells him that she is going to town. Upon hearing her answer, the hunter exclaims that the way to town is too far for an old woman like her. He then advises her to head for home.

For her part, Phoenix doesn't reveal exactly why she is going to town. She merely satisfies his curiosity with a general answer: "The time come around." From her answer, the hunter speculates that she is going to town to see Santa Claus. He assumes that she must be like other "old colored people" who make the journey to town for this purpose. Essentially, Phoenix Jackson provides no concrete details about her reason for going to town. She merely explains that she goes to town because she must.

We know how much Phoenix Jackson loves her grandson by her willingness to endure a long, arduous journey for his sake. Additionally, old Phoenix makes the journey regularly. During each trip, she must brave varied dangers. Her exchange with the white hunter reveals the low status of African Americans in her society.

When the hunter points his gun at Phoenix and asks her whether she is afraid of it, she remains calm; her reply is a simple "No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done." Phoenix knows that her safety is not promised in such a society; yet, she makes the journey because she loves her grandson.

Read the study guide:
A Worn Path

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