In Eudora Welty?s ?A Worn Path,? an old African-American grandmother has set out on a journey for life. Her sightless eyes have turned blue with age, and wrinkles have enveloped her forehead. Simply dressed in an apron made of bleached sugar sacks, she has set out upon her excursion, over mountains, through fields, and across the creek, with one purpose in mind, to retrieve the soothing medicine that will give life to her only grandson. Even near death, this grandmother, named Phoenix Jackson, displays bravery, love and slyness that will help her dying grandson.
Mrs. Jackson displays a great deal of courage. For example, Phoenix Jackson passes by wild, dangerous animals to reach the town. During the season of bulls, she looks out for bulls that could trample her. Poisonous two-headed snakes slither among the trees of the forests in the summertime. In addition, huge buzzards look down on old Phoenix, just waiting for her aged body to collapse.
Even though Mrs. Jackson must pass by these animals when she walks along the worn path, she does not take any form of defense to protect her from the bulls, snakes, and buzzards. All she has against those beasts are her quick wits and valiance. Phoenix Jackson?s gallantry shows again when she manages to crawl underneath coil after coil of razor-sharp barbed wires while in a dress that cannot be fouled until she reaches town. With her feeble, aged body, she undoubtedly attempts to inch past the piercing obstacle although it is a task that is difficult even for bodies that overflow youth and vigor. Again, when Phoenix Jackson boldly marches across a log bridge with her eyes shut tight, remembering Mrs. Jackson?s physical conditions and age, it is clear that Phoenix Jackson has the spunk and guts.
Not only is Phoenix Jackson a bold and daring old woman, but she is also an affectionate and caring lady. This long trip to town Phoenix undergoes is not to fill her own needs and necessities. Yet, this harsh and dangerous path to town Phoenix travels across is for her grandson, who needs a bit of soothing medicine for his lye-swollen throat to ease. By altruistic means, Mrs. Jackson puts her life in jeopardy every time she passes the worn path. It is the love that Phoenix Jackson has for her grandson that powers her to accomplish such a physical task for somebody else. Even after she obtains ten cents during her journey, Mrs. Jackson decides to buy her grandson a little windmill toy instead of satisfying her own yearning for food or fancier dresses. She is also aware that she will not see that much money anytime soon, but because she retains that ultimate affection for her grandson, she cares for him.
Besides demonstrating audacity and fondness, Phoenix Jackson also shows cleverness. Despite the fact, she is blind and unlearned, she is no fool for her wits and intellects are significant. A good illustration of her astuteness is when she encounters a man with a dog, and she tricks the lad giving her enough time to pick up a nickel the man with the dog drops without realizing. Phoenix Jackson comprehends the mind state of the man with the dog and perceives the man?s weakness during a brief encounter with the man. Then she uses his weakness against him. Also, Mrs. Jackson taps and cries out to the animals while walking across the worn path thus scaring away the animals saving her trouble from animals. Then upon arrival in town finally, she notices her shoelaces are untied. Because her old back will not allow her to bend down and permit her to tie her laces herself, she looks for someone else to tie her shoelaces, a lady with perfume and kindly asks her to tie her shoes. Phoenix Jackson picked this lady with perfume sprayed over her because she gives consideration of the thought that someone who gives respect and care for himself will also give deliberation of concerning for others.
The younger generation sees old people as frail, dull-witted, and useless to today?s society. Yet, this assumption is greatly mistaken and is a conclusion drawn out in haste. Phoenix Jackson, though stricken with age, poverty, and uneducated, is just as courageous as a superhero from a comic, who struggles to free hostages and apprehend enemies. At the same time, she is as loving as a mother has love for her own children. Also, she is as sly as a fox, an animal commonly known for its craftiness, adroitness. Phoenix Jackson is not the common, everyday grandmother who is passed by seen unperturbed, swinging back and forth on the creaking front porch. Mrs. Jackson is a hero. Phoenix Jackson is not the type of hero, who slings guns, apprehends bad guys, and saves the world from villains, but she is a hero to one boy, her grandson, who means everything to him. She is also a hero to today?s people, melting their hard-bitten hearts with a touching view of a strong, loving bond between grandmother and grandson. Phoenix Jackson is a hero who proves to the world, that it is our ability to love one another that makes people real human beings.