This story follows the typical plot structure depicted by Freitag's triangle: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
The story begins with exposition, the revelation of background information about the character Phoenix Jackson. We are told, for example, that she is "very old and small and she walked slowly" like the movement of a "pendulum in a grandfather clock." She is compared to a small, chirping bird. Her skin is lined, though it seems to be "illumined by a yellow burning under the dark."
We learn that Old Phoenix is walking along a path, following it closely. She apparently knows this path quite well because she can narrate her progress despite her blindness. This begins to make up the story's rising action. Phoenix makes it across the a river and through a barbed-wire fence. She passes through a cotton field and then a field of dead corn. Phoenix tells a hunter that she's going to town, and he points a gun at her. She reaches the city and asks a woman to tie her shoe for her.
The story reaches its climax when Phoenix makes it to the doctor's office in the city. We finally learn of the purpose of her trek, of her grandson's tragedy, of the devotion to him that compels her to undertake this difficult journey for such a blind, old woman.
In the story's falling action, we see Phoenix decide to take her two new nickels and buy her grandson a paper windmill to play with. She is sure it will amaze him. In the resolution, she begins to go back the way she came, and we hear her "slow" and steady step on the stairs.