A Worn Path – Summary | The Magic of Words

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The Worn PathUnit Two : Men, Women and Children
A Worn Path – Eudora Welty
The Magic of Words

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 path way 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 a great difficulty, now she had to climb down but by then she got caught by thorny bush with a great labour 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 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 the trouble successfully. Now, she was passing through a corn field. 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 scarecrow, she even danced with it. After crossing the corn field 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 no body around, she silently remained there.

After sometime, 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 sometime, she reached to the town. There she asked a lady to tie her shoe laces. The whole town was decorated with colourful bulbs. But, her eyes were not working properly because it wasn’t a broad day light. 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 the 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.

Important Questions

1. Explain Phoenix Jackson and journey she makes to the town of Natchez.
Ans: Phoenix Jackson is an old lady. She makes her journey to get medicine for her grandson. It was cold early December morning. She had a cane to walk. She has wrinkled face and unlaced shoes. Once she was caught in thorny bush and freed herself. Then she comes across a small river and barbed wire fence. She found herself in cotton field and saw scarecrow. After this, she comes across a dog, which barks at her. She hits the dog with her cane and she herself falls in the ditch. A Whiteman comes and helps her by lifting and she ran after dog. Then she found a shining nickel and put it into her pocket. The Whiteman returned and wanted to give her a dime but he hadn’t she saw a church and talks with a lady there. Finally she reached a stone building and climbed stairs. The receptionist asked her a lot of questions. Then comes a nurse and asks questions to Phoenix. Phoenix replied that her grandson had a throat problem. The doctor asked the nurse to give Phoenix medicine freely. The receptionist gave her a nickel and she said that she would buy a paper windmill for grandson.

2. What was the purpose of Phoenix Jackson’s trip to town? What obstacles did she face in her way?
Ans: The old lady Phoenix Jackson’s purpose of her trip to the town was to get some medicine for her grandson who is suffering from throat pain. Her grandson had swallowed lye and his throat stops working. She faced many obstacles on the way to the town. She was caught in thorny bush and freed herself. Later on, she came across a dog. She hits the dog but she fell down herself in to the ditch. The Whiteman helps her. She walks through the jungle.

3. What does Phoenix keep talking to herself? What do her monologues add to the total portrait of her?
Ans: Phoenix often talks herself on the way to the town. Mentally she is disturbed because of her grandson’s throat problem. When she was on the bank of river, she saw a boy coming towards her with cake in her imagination. When she found Whiteman’s nickel, she realized herself as if she was doing something bad. From her monologues, we know about her poor condition of old age, greed for money, love for grandson, courage, etc.

4. `A worn path’ is a story of unconscious heroism of Phoenix Jackson.
Ans: Phoenix Jackson went to town for medicine for her grandson who had swallowed lye. Her grandson’s throat was not working. Nobody is there except Phoenix Jackson and her sick grandson. On the way to town, she speaks to herself on the way. She faces problems one after another. Once she was caught in thorny bush. She freed herself. Then she kicked the dog in spite of her old age when she kicked the dog, she fell into the ditch. She comes across a log and goes ahead. Finally, she brings medicine and returns back home. So this story is a story of unconscious heroism. Her monologues make this factor clear.

5. Describe two obstacles old Phoenix comes up against on her way to hospital and how she deals with them.
Ans: Phoenix Jackson is an old lady. She makes her journey to get medicine for her grandson. It was cold early December morning. She had a cane to walk. She has wrinkled face and unlaced shoes. Once she was caught in thorny bush and freed herself. Then she comes across a small river and barbed wire fence. She found herself in cotton field and saw scarecrow. After this, she comes across a dog which barks at her. She hits the dog with her cane and she herself falls in the ditch. A Whiteman comes and helps her by lifting and she ran after dog. Then she found a shining nickel fallen out of the man’s pocket. The Whiteman returned and wanted to give her a dime but he hadn’t. She saw a church and talks with a lady there. Finally, she reached a stone building and climbed stairs. The receptionist asked her a lot of questions. Then comes a nurse and asks questions to Phoenix. Phoenix replied that her grandson had a throat problem. The doctor asked the nurse to give Phoenix medicine freely. The receptionist gave her a nickel and she said that she would buy a paper windmill for grandson.

Questions for Practice

  1. Phoenix Jackson sees a nickel fall out of the man’s pocket. Rather than tell him about it, she later on hides it. How does this act fit in with her character and with the purpose of her journey?
  2. What does Old Phoenix plan to do with the money she has got during the day? Why?
  3. Why did Phoenix steal the nickel? 28
  4. What examples do you find in “A Worn Path” that show Phoenix Jackson’s concern for her grandchild?

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5 Comments

  1. Milan lama
    Posted November 26, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Thank you!

  2. Nabin Adhikari
    Posted January 25, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for the hseb who made this note . I get really helped in English about the stories so I am really happy …………

  3. Arpita Ghimire
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 6:47 am

    THANKS A lot….

  4. Mohan Pandey
    Posted November 1, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Thank you! It is helpful.

  5. Palvi
    Posted November 4, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Thanks for being so helpful. I am able to prepare notes 📝 for my exams.

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