When you think of a typical hero, what comes to mind? What qualities does Phoenix share with the typical hero? What qualities does she have that make her an unlikely hero?  

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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When I think of the way society might describe a typical hero, I imagine someone who is physically strong and courageous, someone who protects the helpless or innocent, someone who is young, and—to be honest—someone who is a man. When I consider most superheroes, I think of men: Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Captain America, Ironman, Wolverine, Hulk, Green Lantern, Thor, the Silver Surfer, Aquaman, and so on. Only a handful of female superheroes come to mind.

Phoenix Jackson defies these expectations in many ways. Most obviously, she is a woman, and not just that—she is an old woman. She is physically quite weak. When she is accosted by a big dog, "Over she went in the ditch, like a little puff of milkweed." Such a description clearly shows how how small, slight, and relatively weak she is, especially when she can't get up.

On the other hand, she is full of courage because she is so determined to do all she can for her helpless and innocent grandson. He swallowed lye a couple of years...

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