In "A Worn Path," is the grandson really dead?

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In Eudora Welty's story "A Worn Path," an old woman, Phoenix Jackson, goes on a quest to get her grandson some medicine. She walks a long distance over a treacherous path from her home into town to get this medicine. Once at the clinic, one of the nurses asked if her grandson is dead--she says, "He isn't dead, is he?" We never learn the truth because Phoenix gets confused and though she says he isn't dead, we cannot be certain. Welty leaves this question unanswered; however, in an interview, she addresses the question. In her essay, "Is Phoenix Jackson's Grandson Really Dead?", she discusses the question but never really answers it. She says it is not important if the grandson is alive or dead--the focus and most important aspect of the story is Phoenix's journey. That's what she wants readers to notice. So readers will never know the answer.

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