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Barriers in A Worn Path Essay


In the short story, A Worn Path Phoenix Jackson, the main character, is an elderly lady who lives in the country and walks mils to get to the city to receive medicine for her grandson. Unfortunately for Phoenix, many obstacles hinder her on her walk to the city. The restrictions that cause problems for Phoenix on her trip to the city are her age, the environment, racism, and her mental health.

Phoenixs age causes her many problems on her travel to receive medicine for her grandson. Phoenixs eyes were blue with age and her skin had branching wringles as if she had a branching tree on her forehead. The white hunger asked her how old are you, Granny? and she replied there is no telling mister, no telling. These are two quotes directly from the short story A Worn Path that describe Phoenixs age. Because of this hindrance the long travel is made difficult on the old woman. Seems like there is chains about my feet, bout time I get this far, says Phoenix. These examples show that Phoenix has a had time making this trip because she is so old. Her age says something else about Phoenix other than she is old. She is very determined and strong willed. Evidence of this is when the hunger tell Phoenix that she needs to go home, and she tells him that she is bound to go to town, and that nothing will stop her from getting there.

Another barrier in Phoenixs travel is the environment. Animals and plants make the visit to the city very difficult. Page 96 describes one of the many encounters Phoenix has with nature. While walking on the path to the town her dress gets stuck in a thorny bush, and since Phoenix is going into town she has her nicest clothing on. After struggling for a few minutes she finally is able to break free without a scratch on her or her outfit. Plants are not her only problem; A black dog with a lolling tongue came up out of the weeds by the ditch, she was meditating, and not ready, and when he came at her she only hit him a little with her cane. Over she went in the ditch, like a little puff of milkweed. This is a scene in the book when Phoenix has an encounter with a dog that knocks her over in a ditch, and she is unable to get up. When she does get help up it is a white man that is out hunting with his dog.

Racism plays an important role in this story because it has been believed this book was written or set around the time that the Civil War ended. There are two occasions in this short story where racism occurs. The first place this occurs is when Phoenix falls in the ditch and the white man has to help her out. The hunter says to Phoenix, I know you old colored people! Wouldnt miss going to town to see Santa Clause! The white hunter obviously feels superior to Granny because she is black and because she is elderly. The second place where racism is present is when Phoenix reaches the hospital and forgets what she is doing and why she came there. At first the nurse is nice to Granny, but when she feels like Granny is wasting her time she gets hateful towards her. You mustnt take up our time this way, Aunt Phoenix, the nurse said. Tell us quickly about your grandson, and get over it. He isnt dead, is he? The nurse, like the hunger, seems to feel superior to Granny and that her time is not as important as hers because of her age and the color of her skin. Granny also has mental problems which may lead to the nurse and the hunger to feel more superior to Granny.

The last barrier in Grannys trip to the city is her mental state of mind. Since Phoenix is so broken down, her mind does not function like it would if she was in her prime years. She has become phantasm. Down there, her sense drifted away. A dream visited her, and she reached her hand up but nothing reached down and gave her a pull. Another place where she become phantasm is when she thinks she seems a little boy giving her a piece of cake, and when she goes to take it its just her own hand in the air. These are two cases that show her mental illness is not as functional as someone in their younger years.

These examples I have giving you are just a few that show how hard the trip to town was on Phoenix. She was a very old and strong willed lady that knew what she wanted and worked to get it. It shows that no matter what it is if you work hard for it you can get it. I look up to Phoenix and hope that one day I will have the will power and be as strong as she was.

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