What is the main problem in "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty?

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thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main problem in "A Worn Path" was the long, dangerous journey made by Phoenix, an old woman faced with the challenge of taking care of her sick grandson. Her grandchild swallowed lye and required medication that was to be fetched from a distant town. Phoenix was forced to make the long and dangerous trip to get the medication.

The journey to town was tough on the old woman. She was forced to walk over hills and through woods where she risked being attacked by wild animals. The thorny bushes along the way caught her skirt and slowed her down.

As the journey got tough, Phoenix imagined seeing a ghost which turned out to be a scarecrow. Along the way she hit a black dog with her cane. The impact threw her off balance and into a ditch. A hunter who was nearby helped her out. The journey was such an arduous task that by the time she got to where she was going, she momentarily forgot her objective.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main problem in "A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty is the fact that Phoenix is an old, poor black woman who has sole care of her terminally ill grandson who accidentally swallowed lye.  In order to care for him, she must travel a long and arduous path--albeit worn--to the free clinic at which she can obtain some medicine to ease the boy's symptoms and pain.  Along the way, Phoenix is knocked down by her poor eyesight which causes her to imagine ghosts, her aged knees which give way and cause her to fall, and the buffetting by the subtle racism of the white hunter.  Nevertheless, like her name, Phoenix rises and continues on her path of love until she arrives at the clinic.