A Dynamic Character of Phoenix Jackson in A Worn Path

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That cold forest has never met a woman the likes of Phoenix Jackson. Strong willed and steady paced she treks through the woods without a care. The age of this woman has taken its toll but it has made her the person she is. Her goal is to get to the market and no act of man will stop many may realize.

The humor in Phoenix’s story is not misplaced but modifies her strong will that Welty created. The perfect example of this would be right near the beginning of the story:

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Now and then there was a quivering in the thicket. Old Phoenix said, “Out of my way, all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits, coons and wild animals!...Keep out from under these feet, little bob-whites….Keep the big wild hogs out of my path. Don’t let none of those come running up my direction. I got a long way.”Under her small black-freckled hand her cane, limber as a buggy whip, would switch the brush as if to rouse up any hiding things. (92)

Although it is just a sign of her age, this causes her to be a dynamic character in any story. Phoenix sticks out in readers minds by having her own identity.

Although Phoenix is not relatable to a college student, she is a reminder of a grandparent or even great-grandparent. Phoenix has faced many trials in her life much like a grandparent. The facts of her past are never made known to the audience, but whatever happened has changed her view on her own life. The hunter, who is very rude, threatens Phoenix with her life and she does not even flinch.

…he laughed and his gun lifted and pointed it at Phoenix.

She stood straight and faced him.

“Doesn’t the gun scare you?” he said, still pointing

“No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer by, in my day, and for less than what I done,” she said, holding utterly still. (94)

Phoenix almost sends a chill down the spine not caring about her life.

The final piece to Phoenix’s character is that of her sympathy and caring heart. The story revolves around her in the forest but concludes with the discussion about her sick grandson. Phoenix’s grandson is apparently extremely ill and Phoenix is the sole caretaker for the young boy. It is rare that a woman of Phoenix’s age would have to take care of a child but even she knows that there is a reason that the grandson is with her. Her own standing goes out the window, and the boy’s becomes the priority.

Welty understood what this story needed to be memorable and created it inside of phoenix Jackson. Although slightly insane, Phoenix keeps her composure throughout the story. Phoenix Jackson is not a saint but she is not closed off either. Her style and movement throughout the story paint an image which makes her a dynamic character.

Works cited

  1. Welty, E. (1941). A worn path. The Atlantic Monthly, 168(2), 90-95. doi:10.2307/25600573
  2. Carson, C. (1990). Eudora Welty’s “A worn path”. Explicator, 48(4), 274-276. doi:10.1080/00144949009596321
  3. Donlan, L. (2014). Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path": The eternal quest of welty's phoenix jackson. Explicator, 72(4), 281-286. doi:10.1080/00144940.2014.952306
  4. Cowart, D. (1981). Phoenix jackson's grandson: A healing presence. Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts in the South, 19(2), 5-13.
  5. Stewart, M. (2015). Character and Symbol in "A Worn Path". The Explicator, 73(3), 173-175. doi: 10.1080/00144940.2015.1039477
  6. Duvall, J. (2015). Welty's 'A Worn Path'. Explicator, 73(3), 168-171. doi: 10.1080/00144940.2015.1039475
  7. Yarbrough, D. T. (1999). The Art of the Short Story. McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages.
  8. Volkening, P. (2009). Phoenix has no coat: Artistic coherence and the characterization of phoenix jackson in Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path”. Journal of Modern Literature, 33(1), 96-108. doi: 10.1353/jml.0.0050
  9. Taylor, A. (2014). Phoenix rising: The symbolic use of names in eudora welty's "a worn path". Names: A Journal of Onomastics, 62(3), 137-147. doi:10.1080/00277738.2014.917350
  10. Gwin, M. (1991). Meditations on Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path". Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts in the South, 29(3), 33-44.

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