In the short story "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty, an old African American woman named Phoenix Jackson periodically makes a long walk through rugged countryside from her isolated home to town to obtain needed medicine. Her determination is fueled by her love for her grandson, whose throat swells shut if he does not have the medicine that his grandmother acquires from a clinic.
The first obstacle that Phoenix encounters is a patch of thorn bushes. The dress she wears is probably her only one, so "it was not possible to allow the dress to tear." She has to carefully untangle her dress each time it catches on a thorn. As she does this, she talks to the thorn bushes, saying, "Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass—no sir." By the time she is free of the thorns, she is weeping and trembling.
The next obstacle is a log placed across a creek that she has to cross. When she encounters it, she says, "Now comes the trial." The prospect of walking on the log frightens her so much that she closes her eyes as she walks across. When she gets over safely, she says, "I wasn't as old as I thought," but then, she stops to rest. She daydreams that a little boy brings her a piece of marble cake.
The next obstacle is a barbed wire fence. She has to "creep and crawl" through it. She is afraid of tearing her dress or cutting her arms or legs. She talks "loudly to herself" as she makes it through this obstacle, probably to alleviate her fear.
She then goes through a cornfield that she calls a "maze," but this is more of a psychological obstacle than a physical one. She fears encountering a bull or a snake, and when she comes across a scarecrow, she at first thinks it is a man or a ghost. She then falls into a ditch, but a man with a dog and a shotgun pulls her out. She eventually makes it into town for the needed medicine.