Phoenix Jackson is shown to have to battle through a variety of difficulties to get to her goal and receive the medicine that her grandson needs. Firstly, it is shown that nature itself becomes an obstacle, as she has to descend a hill and gets her dress caught on some thorns. Then she has to cross a log that is lying across a creek, and then finally she needs to crawl through a barbed-wire fence. Through all of these first three obstacles that she has to face, it is clear that she is tired and hungry, and this makes her determination to endure all of these hardships all the more remarkable. Note the way in which she addresses the thorns that have caught in her dress and which she has to struggle to free herself from:
"Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass, no sir. Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush."
Symbolically, we could argue that the thorn bushes and the other obstacles that Phoenix Jackson faces so early on in her journey could represent the unexpected obstacles that one must overcome on the path of life. Phoenix Jackson, through her determination and stubborness, keeps on the path, moving onwards and overcoming every obstacle that she faces with gritty stoicism.