What are some similarities and differences between "A Worn Path" and "The Sky Is Gray"?

Similarities between "A Worn Path" and "The Sky Is Gray" include the predominance of poor, African American characters, a medically related theme, the importance of family relations, and an emphasis on determination in reaching a goal. In “A Worn Path,” an elderly grandmother is the protagonist, and the grandson for whom she is striving is not present. In contrast, in “The Sky Is Gray,” a young boy is the protagonist, and he and his mother make the journey together.

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In these two short stories, many of the characters are African American and poor. Both stories emphasize the importance of family, and both stories stress the importance of determination and perseverance in achieving a goal. Both also concern the characters seeking medical help. Among the differences are the settings, with “A Worn Path” taking place in a rural environment, while “The Sky Is Gray” is set in a city. Other differences refer to the characters. In “A Worn Path,” there is a single protagonist, an elderly African American woman named Phoenix Jackson. She makes an arduous journey on her own, and only at the end does the reader learn that her reason for doing so is to help her grandson—a character we never meet. In Ernest Gaines’s story, however, the protagonist is a young boy, James. He and his mother, Octavia, are both present in the entire story, although it is presented from his perspective. They also have a long journey which is related to a medical necessity, in this case a visit to the dentist.

In both stories, the journey is completed within a single day. Phoenix primarily faces environmental obstacles and only interacts with one other person until she reaches her destination. He is a young White man who is condescending but not dangerous. She also has good fortune in finding some change. James and Octavia have numerous interactions with other characters, both Black and White. Their luck includes receiving hospitality and food.

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