Phoenix

Jackson Mind Over Matter By Welty
Novelist Eudora Welty is often studied and adored by many
readers; her much deserved recognition comes from her brilliant, deeply
compassionate, and lively stories and novels (Ford 36). Like many of her
stories, Eudora Welty's "A Worn Path" is set in Mississippi. In
"A Worn Path," Welty focuses on an old woman's journey to Natchez and
on the many obstacles that she encounters along the way. Phoenix is going to
town to get medication for her beloved grandson. But he trip is difficult
because nature and her handicaps are making it hard for her to reach her
destination. Nevertheless, the old woman boldly continues along the equally old
path, struggling every step of the way. Even though Phoenix faces a number of
obstacles, she reaches her destination and triumphs over her physical handicaps
and over nature's barriers by relying on her inner strengths. Although Phoenix
is nearly blind, she does not let her failing eyesight keep her from reaching
her destination; she relies on her feet to take her where she needs to go.
"Old Phoenix would have been lost had she not distrusted her eyesight and
depended on her feet to know where to take her (162)." The ragged old woman
inches her feet forward with the aid of a makeshift cane, dragging her untied
shoelaces along the icy road. Phoenix's feet carry her to the top of the hill
and then carefully guide her down the hill. But her eyes fail her as she nears
the bottom of the hill and her dress gets snagged in a thorn bush. "Old
eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush (159)." She carefully frees
herself and continues along the path. When Phoenix nears a fallen tree that lays
over the creek, she closes her eyes and lets her feet guide her across it. Her
feet take her across the fields and lead her out of the swamp and through the
maze. As she makes her way through the corn field, she stumbles across a tall,
dark figure. "Ghost," she said sharply, "who be you the ghost of?

For I have heard of nary death close by (160)." Her eyesight tricks her
into believing that it is a ghost, or perhaps, the Grim Reaper that has come to
take her away. When Phoenix gets no response from the "ghost," she
bravely touches the figure and realizes that it is only a scarecrow. The
relieved woman kicks up her dependable feet and dances with him. Phoenix
acknowledges that it is nature's job to stall her. However, she makes it clear
that she has no time for the barriers that are being thrown across her path. She
knows that her life is limited and she has no time for obstructions. When she
finds herself snagged on a thorn bush, she talks to it as she patiently frees
herself. "Thorns, you doing your appointed work Never want to let folks
pass-no sir (159)." As Phoenix wobbles along, she comes across a sitting
buzzard and in three simple words she lets him know that he will not dine upon
her. "Who you watching (160)?" She slowly sways past him and continues
her journey, while nature carefully plans the next obstacle. Sure enough, as

Phoenix stands and ponders, a big black dog creeps up behind her. "Old
woman," she said to herself, "that black dog come up out of the weeds
to stall you off (161)." She accepts the fact that the black dog is merely
following nature's orders. Phoenix's old body is not as quick as her wit. When

Phoenix is startled by the huge mutt, her mind reacts much faster than her body,
causing her to drop into a weed-cushioned trench. The old woman is discovered by
a young hunter who quickly snatches her out of the ditch. As they converse,

Phoenix catches a glimpse of a shiny nickel that drops out of the hunter's
pouch. Her mind reacts; her face lights up and she claps her hands. "Look
at that dog! She laughed as if in admiration. He ain't scared of nobody. He a
big black dog (161)." Knowing that her old body needs plenty of time to
grab the nickel, she uses her wit to shift the hunter's attention toward the
"fearless" dog. As the hunter sets off to prove his own fearlessness,

Phoenix goes for the coin. "She was slowly bending forward by that time
(162)." She gradually bows and places the coin in her apron. As Jackson
slowly lifts her body, she notices a bird flying above