English XI: Magic of Words Content
A Worn Path
– Eudora Welty
Subject Matter: This story is about the journey of Phoenix Jackson, who walks many times to a town to bring medicine for her grandson.
Why her name was kept Phoenix?
Ans: Her name was kept Phoenix because like the Egyptian Phoenix bird whose life time is about 500 years, the lady too was very old and like the bird gets birth in the interval of 500 years, she also goes to town in the particular interval for the medicine.
Character Sketch of Phoenix Jackson:
- African American (Negro)
- Speaks wrong English
- She has a grandson who has some defects in the throat so she has to take medicine till his life
- She knows that her grandson won’t be cured but she hopes he may be and brings medicine
- Town is very far and she goes with a difficult journey
- She is very poor and on the way, she murmurs with herself.
Obstacles on the way of her journey (25th December). 25th December is Christmas Day; it’s an extremely cold day and as she is poor, she hasn’t enough warm clothes
- On the way to the forest, there is a big layer of snow so she can’t walk up the hill easily but is still walking and reaches on the top of the hill
- She also feels difficult to walk down the hill passing from the bushes as bushes’ needle caught her gown
- Creek/rivulet with great force of the water was a kind of test for her and she closed her eyes and crossed the creek walking along the block of wood.
- Barbed wire
- She sees a white loose shirt body and gets frightened thinking it as a ghost
- Being mentally absent, she fell down into a ditch when she saw a dog (unexpected event)
Summary of the story “A Worn Path”
The story “A Worn Path” is about an old black woman called Phoenix Jackson. She used to live in a village far away from the town. She had no one except a grandson. He was very sick so she had to go to the town at regular intervals to bring medicine for her grandson. The town was very far from her village and the journey was really very difficult.
This story describes one of her such journeys to the town. On the way, she has to face many obstacles. But, every time she faces the obstacles very boldly and at last, reaches to the town. Her journey starts through the hill. It being December, it was very cold and the pathway was covered with snow. She tapped her stick on the snow and continued her journey. She used to talk to herself most of the time and she also talked with all the animals that she met on the way.
After climbing the hill with great difficulty, now she had to climb down but by then she got caught by thorny bush with great labor she freed herself and again continued her journey. After sometimes, she came by a creek. She had to cross it. It was not an easy job. She had to cross it through a log. She took it to be a trial. Very carefully, she crossed the creek. She crossed it through a log even with her eyes closed. She again continued her journey but there was another obstacle waiting for her. Now, she had to cross through a barbed-wire fence. She crept and crawled through the wire saving herself and her gown. Again, she faced trouble successfully. Now, she was passing through a cornfield. There she saw a scarecrow. At first, she thought it to be a ghost but very boldly, she talked with it. Finally, when she knew that it was a scarecrow, she even danced with it. After crossing the cornfield as she was going on her way from somewhere, a black dog came before her all of a sudden. She lost her balance and fell down in a ditch there. She raised her hand for help. But, as there was nobody around, she silently remained there.
After some time, a hunter came there. He took her out from the ditch. While talking, a nickel (five-cent coin) dropped down from the man’s pocket. She stole it with a trick. After some time, she reached the town. There she asked a lady to tie her shoelaces. The whole town was decorated with colorful bulbs. But, her eyes were not working properly because it wasn’t broad daylight. But, depending on her senses, she finally reached the medical clinic. There she even forgot why she had been there. She didn’t remember for a short time. However, while talking with the nurse, she remembers her grandson and her purpose of visit. She took medicine. While she was going from there, she got a nickel as a gift. She said that she would buy a paper toy for her grandson. After that, she left the clinic.
In Egyptian mythology, the Phoenix was a bird of great splendor that every five hundred years consumed itself by five and rose renewed from its own ashes. In what way is Phoenix Jackson like the bird?
Ans: Phoenix is a bird from Egyptian mythology. It’s thought that there is only one Phoenix at a time. It lives up to 500 years and after that, it gets itself consumed by fire and rises renewed from its own asses. Here, the main character is Phoenix Jackson. First of all, she is very old. Secondly, she goes to the town at a regular interval to bring medicines for her grandson. This particular interval of time gives her the name Phoenix.
How does she feel about stealing the nickel the hunter dropped?
Ans: When Phoenix saw a nickel dropping from the hunter’s pocket, she immediately made a plan to steal it. She sent the man to seek the dog and the moment he turned his face, she picked up the nickel and put it in her apron pocket. While doing so, she didn’t feel comfortable. There was a mixture of regret and wrongdoing in her heart. She knew that she committed a crime and she also felt that God was watching her.
How does Phoenix know she is in the doctor’s office?
Ans: As it had become night when she arrived at the town, she wasn’t able to see properly. Her weak eyes were unable to find out the proper way. But, she had been to the place several times before, so her legs were quite accustomed to the streets and lanes of the town and depending on her legs she finally came to doctor’s office where there was nameplate on the wall and the nurse asked her about the grandson’s situation.
What happens when Old Phoenix is spoken to by the receptionist and the nurse?
Ans: When Old Phoenix is spoken to by the receptionist, she ignored her and she got senseless and lost her memory. When the nurse asked her about her grandson then she became conscious and recollects the purpose of her trip to the town.