Summary of A Worn Path and Important Questions/Answers

A Worn Path Summary

“A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty tells the story of an elderly African American woman named Phoenix Jackson, who embarks on a difficult journey from her rural home to the city of Natchez on a cold December morning.

Phoenix, frail and with poor vision, relies on a cane made from an umbrella to help her navigate the path. She talks to herself and warns any wild animals to stay away, a habit that reveals her loneliness and determination.

Phoenix wears a striped dress, an apron made from recycled sugar bags, and a red rag on her head. Despite her neat appearance, her shoes are untied. As she travels, she encounters various obstacles that slow her progress.

First, her dress gets caught in a thorny bush, which she carefully frees herself from. Then, she faces a challenging crossing over a creek on a log, which she manages by closing her eyes and trusting her cane for guidance.

Resting briefly, Phoenix has a dream vision of a boy offering her a slice of marble cake, which disappears when she reaches for it.

Continuing her journey, she crawls through a barbed-wire fence without damaging her dress and walks through a winter cotton field, recalling a past encounter with a two-headed snake. She mistakes a scarecrow for a ghost and feels relieved upon realizing her error, even dancing a little with it.

Phoenix drinks from a spring and is startled by a big black dog. Trying to defend herself, she falls into a ditch and has another dream vision. A young white hunter helps her out of the ditch but patronizes her, assuming she’s going to town to see Santa Claus. While he’s distracted, Phoenix slyly takes a nickel that falls from his pocket.

Phoenix finally reaches Natchez, which is decorated for Christmas. She asks a woman to tie her shoelaces, wanting to appear tidy.

She arrives at a medical clinic, where an attendant initially treats her as a charity case. The nurse recognizes Phoenix and explains to the attendant that Phoenix regularly comes to get medicine for her grandson, who has a damaged throat from swallowing lye.

Read More: The House Call Summary

Exhausted, Phoenix momentarily forgets why she’s there but soon recalls her grandson’s need. The nurse gives her the medicine, and the attendant gives her a nickel.

Phoenix plans to use the two nickels she now has to buy a paper windmill for her grandson, showing her enduring love and hope for his joy. Despite the hardships, Phoenix’s journey reflects her tireless dedication and resilience.

Read More: My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold

Important Questions and Answers

Why is Phoenix Jackson taking a long trip to town?

Phoenix Jackson is taking a long trip to town to get medicine for her grandson, who has a damaged throat from swallowing lye.

What obstacles does Phoenix Jackson encounter on her journey?

Phoenix faces several obstacles including thorny bushes catching her dress, crossing a log over a creek, crawling through a barbed-wire fence, mistaking a scarecrow for a ghost, and being knocked into a ditch by a black dog.

How does Phoenix Jackson deal with the hunter she meets?

Phoenix cleverly distracts the hunter by making him chase away a black dog while she secretly takes a nickel that falls from his pocket. Despite his patronizing attitude, she remains calm and resourceful.

What is the significance of Phoenix’s name about her journey?

Phoenix’s name symbolizes the mythical Phoenix bird that rises from its ashes, representing her resilience and ability to overcome obstacles repeatedly despite her old age and frailty.

How does the story reflect Phoenix Jackson’s character and determination?

The story reflects Phoenix’s character and determination through her perseverance in facing numerous physical challenges and her unwavering commitment to getting medicine for her grandson, showcasing her love, resourcefulness, and inner strength.

Read Next: Look At a Teacup Summary

Leave a Comment