What is the significance of Phoenix's poor eyesight in "A Worn Path"?

Quick answer:

Phoenix’s poor eyesight is significant because it emphasizes the seemingly impossible nature of her undertaking: the difficult journey, on foot, to the city to collect the medicine her sick grandson needs. It is one more thing that makes the journey so difficult, but it also draws attention to Phoenix’s perseverance, faith, and the apparent magic of her very nature, all of which allow her to pass successfully through many obstacles.

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Certainly, Phoenix Jackson’s poor eyesight is one indicator of her advanced age and frailty, something that should make the arduous trek into Natchez all the more challenging. She is not a young, strong, agile person but, rather, one who is compelled to rely on her knowledge, her instincts, her faith, and her nature to get her where she needs to go. As she says, her grandson is depending on her, and she is all he has in the world.

Likewise, Phoenix’s poor eyesight renders her willingness to make this journey all the more commendable. She has to depend “on her feet to know where to take her,” even when she must cross a stream on a fallen log, something that could be quite dangerous to her if she fell. Again, it is her faith that seems to sustain her. She even closes her eyes at one point, rejecting the use of what little sight she has left. She talks to herself about how the “good Lord made his snakes to curl up and sleep in the winter” so that they will not come out and bother her, and it seems to be some mixture of faith and magic. After all, she is named Phoenix, a mythological creature that grows old, bursts into flame, and then rises from the ashes to live again; this myth sustains her rather than biology or logic.

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