At a Glance

"A Worn Path" key characters:

  • In "A Worn Path," elderly African American woman Phoenix Jackson endures poverty and racism, but a deep and abiding love for her grandson gives her life meaning.
  • Phoenix’s grandson, a little boy whose injuries have never healed after he drank lye, is her only relative. “We is the only two left in the world,” Phoenix says.
  • Through her efforts to relieve her grandson’s suffering and to bring him joy, Phoenix illustrates love, courage, compassion, sacrifice, dignity, and the strength of the human spirit.
  • The young hunter Phoenix encounters on her way to Natchez treats her with condescension and attempts to frighten her, unaware of her mission and the strength of her character.
  • An attendant and the nurse at the medical clinic in Natchez demonstrate the racism and lack of respect afforded to Phoenix by society because she is old, poor, and African American.


(Short Stories for Students)

The Grandson
Phoenix's grandson does not appear in the story, but his medical condition is the reason for the old woman's...

(The entire section is 1041 words.)