The story “A worn Path” sketches the unknown heroism of old women, her trip to town and the obstacles she has to face on the way to city. Phoenix Jackson is an old Negro Women. Her body is covered with red rag and she wears an apron. Her shoes are unlaced. Her eyes are blue and her face is wrinkled. Her cheeks are yellow and her black hair comes down up to the neck. In the early morning of a cold December, she starts her trip to the city to get some medicine for her grandson who is suffering from throat problem. In the story, we first see her in the Valley walking up the hilly path with a stick in her hand. As she is very old and weak, it is very difficult for her to walk. She has to walk up and down the hill through pine and oak forest.
On her way to the city, old Phoenix has to face many obstacles. when she is getting down the hill, she is caught in a thorny bush. When she reaches the bottom of the hill, there is a small river with a log laid across it. It is very difficult for the old women to cross it safely. After crossing the river and walking for a while, she reached a barbed wire fence. To cross through it, the old women crawls like a baby putting her body close to the ground. When she walks in the cotton field, she was frightened by something tall, black and thin moving. She first supposed it to be a ghost dancing in the wind. She goes near, closed her eyes and touched. She finally laughed finding it to be a scarecrow. Then she passed the narrow path of the hill. When she passed the muddy track and reached the high bank, a dog suddenly from the ditch and barked at her. She tried to hit the dog with the can but unfortunately she herself felled down into the ditch. She felled unconscious and stated dreaming. A white hunter saw her and pulled her up. When the hunter chased the dog a nickel dropped from his pocket. The women picked the coin and kept it into her pocket. However, when she saw a bird flying nearby her, she realized herself that god saw her misdeeds. She walked on and reached the city, which was decorated with the lights as it was time of Christmas.
Old Phoenix finally reached a stone building. She climbed up the stairs and entered to the doctor’s office. There she stands for a while being confused. The nurse asked her to sit down. When the nurse asked the old Phoenix about her grandson, she didn’t reply. She behaved as if she was deaf.
Important Questions and Answers:
a. What are the various obstacles faced by Phoenix Jackson on her way to the city?
Ans: There were many obstacles she faces on the way till she reaches the town. When she was getting down the hill, she is caught in a thorny bush. At the bottom of the hill, there was a small river with a log laid across it. It was very difficult for the old women to cross it safely. She had to cross the barbed wire fence crawling like a baby putting her body close to the ground. She was frightened by something tall, black and thin moving scarecrow. When she passed the muddy track and reached the high bank, a dog suddenly from the ditch and barked at her. She tried to hit the dog with the can but unfortunately she herself felled down into the ditch. She felled unconscious and stated dreaming. She was very hungry and had nothing to eat. Despite facing all those obstacles, she finally reached the town.
b. Why does Phoenix keep talking to herself? What do her monologues add to the portrait to her?
Ans: Phoenix keeps talking to herself primarily because she was very old and old people usually keep talking with themselves. She did so to avoid loneliness while passing through the jungle. She faced many obstacles on the way and she had no one to talk with her. Therefore, these monologues revealed the attitude of old people and their psychology.
c. “A worn path is a story of unconscious heroism of Phoenix Jackson.” Explain.
Ans: A Worn Path is an unconscious heroism of an old woman Phoenix Jackson. With an extreme love to her grandson, she showed heroic character in the story. The writer takes us into Phoenix’s mind with great delicacy and discloses her firm dignity. Despite her age, Phoenix goes to the town of Natchez to take medicine for her grandson. She faced many obstacles on her way. However, she bravely overcame each of them and became hero.