Obstacles and barriers are in the way at some point or another during a lifetime. Phoenix Jackson, the main character in “A Worn Path”, is presented with many obstacles along her journey on Natchez’s Trace; despite these obstacles, her love for her grandson pulls her through until she makes it into town. The author, Eudora Welty, uses the devices of characterization, setting development and description in “A Worn Path” to demonstrate that Phoenix Jackson lets neither the facts of her old age and the cold weather nor the long and impeding journey stand in the way of her getting into town for her grandson’s medicine.The devices of characterization, setting development and description enable Welty to tell a story of courage. Phoenix Jackson’s loss of memory, physical fragility and impaired vision are just some of the side effects from her old age. These repercussions of aging render her journey more difficult as struggles into town. The scene near the last the third of the trip especially captures the approach of senility. It is through the following textual evidence, speaking to an attendant at the clinic after her day long trek, Phoenix says: “My Grandson.
It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my long trip” (A Worn Path; para. 88).
The author here shows the reader that Phoenix could have made that trip for nothing had she not remembered or been reminded about her grandson. Her old age has her growing weak and unable to perform tasks that would have been easier for her in her younger days. For example, she travels the entire way with undone shoe laces because she cannot bend, even with her cane made of an umbrella stick:” ‘Can’t lace’em with a cane,’ said Phoenix. ‘Thank you Missy.
I doesn’t mind asking a nice lady to tie up my show, when I gets out on the street'” (A Worn Path; para. 68); this physical hurdle is the basis for her walking so slowly. And lastly, another factor of her old age that causes her to see things that are not there, such as a young boy offering a piece of cake or a man dancing in a field, is her impaired eyesight and possibly her overactive imagination or unschooled superstition. Her vision also causes her to get caught in a thorny bush, and she speaks to them like old friends: “Thorns, you doing your appointed work. Never want to let folks pass- no sir.Old eyes thought you was a pretty little green bush” (A Worn Path; para. 8).
Seemingly, Phoenix’s old age causes her to struggle along her way through Natchez’s Trace. The cold December air also acts as an obstacle that the woman needs to overcome in her journey. The chilling weather slows her down and causes her to tremble. Phoenix, who walked with a cane, was even more dependant on it for stability, as she walked on the frozen and icy ground: “She carried a thin, small cane made from an umbrella, and with this she kept tapping the frozen earth in front of her” (A Worn Path; para.1).