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The setting of Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" is the rural South in the 1930's. This time period is significant because it was certainly a time of hardship for Americans, and so Phoenix's struggles become universal for all those who struggle to sustain their lives and those whom they love.
That Phoenix's trek takes place on the path to Natchez as a metaphorical path of life is also very meaningful. Phoenix struggles as do other Americans, especially the poorer classes; that is, to survive and care for loved ones. She musters all her strength to make the long walk to the charity clinic in Natchez in order to procure medicine for her grandson. Additionally, this journey occurs near Christmastime which is significant, too, as it lends the grandmother's journey of love a universality; for it is representative of the journey of Christians through life performing charitable works. Along the way, Phoenix falls off the path, but a man carrying a bag over his shoulder picks her up and runs the dog who frightened her off; further, he inadvertently leaves her a present as Phoenix grabs up the nickel he has dropped and considers herself fortunate to have what is now almost seventy cents, an amount that would almost buy a loaf of bread (8 cents in 1930). Delighted by this find and, later, the nickel that an attendant at the clinic gives her, Phoenix "rose carefully" and decides to buy her little grandson a small windmill for Christmas.
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