What are the major ways Welty compares Phoenix Jackson to the mythological Phoenix bird?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Phoenix Jackson is an elderly black woman who makes a ritual journey through a rugged trail to get medicine for her sick grandson.  She is old, probably older than 80, but refuses to give up her journey, regardless if it is challenging to her or not. Like the mythological bird, Phoenix has spiritual experiences when she is traveling in the forest.

"She imagines a boy bringing her a slice of cake but opens her eyes to find her hand in the air, grasping nothing. The terrain becomes more difficult, and at a certain point she thinks she sees a ghost, but it is only a scarecrow. Blaming the confusion on her age and the fact that her "senses is gone," she moves on."

 "The phoenix was the bird in ancient mythology that rose from its own ashes every 500 years to begin a new life cycle."

"Phoenix's ritual journey into town symbolizes the continual rising-up of the old woman, like the bird she is allied with. Her description given at the beginning of the story also seems to suggest fire and life: "a golden color ran underneath, and the two knobs of her cheeks were illumined by a yellow burning under the dark. Under the red rag her hair came down on her neck in the frailest of ringlets, still black, and with an odor like copper."  

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Phoenix Jackson, the old Negro woman in Eudora Welty 's short story, is tired and worn down both literally as an individual and metaphorically as a member of an oppressed race, By comparing her to the phoenix, the mythological bird which is known for its resilience and symbolic of immortality, Welty is making a statement on the strength and endurance of the Negro race in post-slavery America.  Like the bird which will "rise from the...

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