Thursday, October 13, 2011

10/13/2011 09:33:00 PM - , 9 comments

Magic of Words - A Worn Path


A black old woman named as Phoenix Jackson is the central character of the story. It was the month of December and she was walking slowly with a cane (stick). She covered her head with a red rag (torn-out cloth). She was speaking to herself as she was tapping her way; it is a kind of soliloquy (speaking oneself) in the story. She talked and addressed the wild animals, insects, birds, trees and bushes. She even addressed the fearful wild animal to go out from her way. As she crossed the pinewoods, she reached in the stream (river) and crossed the bridge and became over-confident that she had not become so much old and had plenty of energy inside her.

After that she had taken a short rest. But in the same time, she visualized a flash of dream when a small boy offered her a cake. She moved her hand in the air. She crossed the way by creeping under the barbed (cutting and pointed) wire. On the way she considered the scarecrow as a ghost and she shouted due to fear and drank water in the spout (tap). Meanwhile, a dog came to attack her and she started to run away but fell into the ditch and unable to come out from it. A white hunter came there and rescued her. She was so much thankful to him because of his unselfish help. She was excited and appreciated him. He had two dogs. They were began to fight and the man went to separate them, but at the same time, a nickel (five cent coin) fell on the ground from his pocket. She silently grabbed it. The white man requested the woman to go back to the home and dominated her as Granny, but the woman was constant in her determination. She did not like that man and his suggestion at all.

Finally, she arrived on the street of the city where she saw lights flashing everywhere and people were walking in the street with attractive gifts in their hands. On the meantime, her shoelace untied so she requested a lady to tie her shoelaces. The lady was a charming lady who helped her in a pleasant way and honored her as Grandma. Ultimately, she reached in a large building which was the big hospital. The nurse and the attendant started to talk with the woman, it seemed that they knew the woman very well. The nurse asked her about her grandson and his illness. But the mother didn’t know anything and forgot everything. She was looked like a wanderer. Finally the woman recalled that she had the grandson who was very sick. The nurse gave her a bottle of medicine. It was the cheerful time of Christmas, so the attendant gave her a nickel. The old woman was thinking to buy a paper wind-mill for her grandson.

Describe phoenix Jackson and the journey she undertook to the town.
Ans: Phoenix Jackson is the protagonist of the story. She is an Afro-American lady. The way she walks suggests that she is very old .She needs a cane to walk. Her long skirt made of sugar sack tells she must be very poor. Her skin is yellow and there are wrinkles on her face. But in spite of all these under privileges, she has a strong determination to continue the journey.
               Phoenix Jackson makes biannual visit to Natchez to get a soothing medicine for her grandson, which she receives as charity. Having swallowed lye, he has suffered without healing for years. Phoenix Jackson has made such journey many times and her path seems to be a worn path now.
              The story opens on a chilly December morning. Phoenix Jackson is making her way to the town slowly but surely through the pine woods tapping her umbrella cane on the ground in front of her. Her shoes are untied. While she taps along she also warns the animals to keep out of her ways. When she crosses the wood up and down the hill, due to her poor eyesight, her skirt is caught in the thorns. But quite patiently she frees herself from thorns. After that she has to traverse (cross) a stream by walking on a narrow log. Then she takes rest under a tree. She dreams a boy bringing a slice of cake. She tries to grab but her hand is in air. She leaves the place and walks along the trial. In the way she finds a fence. As she could not climb over it, she crosses it by crawling under it like a baby. When she crosses the field, she mistakes a scarecrow as a ghost and when she finds that it is just a scarecrow she dances in joy. When she reaches the wagon track, she meets a black dog with a lolling tongue. She tries to hit that dog but the attempt knocks her off balance and she falls into a ditch. As she cannot come out of it by herself, she simply waits for someone to come to rescue her. Soon after a while a hunter comes and takes her out of the ditch. When she complains that a dog has knocked her down, the hunter goes to chase that dog away but in the process a nickel falls upon his pocket. Phoenix takes that coin. When hunter comes he points his gun on her and asks if she is afraid but he can’t scare her and gets so impressed that he desires to give her a dime in reward. He tries to discourage the lady to go to town but he cannot.
          When she reaches town she finds it decorated in beautiful way as it is the Christmas time. Then she reaches the clinic, she forgets the reason that takes her there. But a nurse recognizes her and remembers her case and gives her the medicine after making normal enquiry. When she leaves, the attendant gives her a nickel as a Christmas gift after she comes out of the hospital. She finds she has got ten cents with her. She decides to buy a paper windmill for her grandson with that.

Trace the various obstacles old Phoenix comes up.
Ans: There are numerous obstacles that old phoenix has to overcome between valley and wagon track. But she overcomes each of them with her strong will- power. First of all it is very cold day and she is very old. Her old age and the unfavorable weather are the first obstacles in her long journey but she ignores that with her indomitable spirit. Second, she has to walk through the woods up and down a hill which is haunted by wild animals. She keeps the animals away by poking her cane into bush. Next obstacle is a thorny bush, which catches her skirt. Quite patiently she frees herself from that thorny bush.  Another obstacle is to transverse a stream by a narrow log. She crosses it slowly by closing here eyes and holding her cane firmly in front of her. After that the fence comes in her way as she is very old she cannot cross it by climbing over it. She crawls under it like a baby. The last obstacle that comes before the wagon track is a Scarecrow. First she thinks it is a ghost but she finds it a scarecrow.  In this way she overcomes all the obstacles that come in her way.

What is the meaning of episode in which Phoenix steals the nickel? Does the act offend our sense of honesty? Explain.
Ans: When phoenix Jackson falls into a ditch  she wait for someone  to come and  rescue her after sometime  a hunter comes and helps  her to come out. She complains that she is knocked by the dog. The hunter goes to chase that dog. In the process a nickel falls from his pocket when she sees it she takes it stealthy at the same time the bird flies and it makes her think that the god is watching her. It shows that she confesses her sin to the god and her act is forgiven at once. We can say this because we see the hunter coming back and expressing his desire to reward the lady with a dime. It can be taken as an attempt of writer to make her realize that what she takes is only half of the award she is worthy of.
           Therefore the act of phoenix doesn’t offend our senses of honesty. Rather her pathetic condition arouses sympathy in our heart. It was Christmas time and she needs some gift for her grandson. Any person would do the same if s/he were in her place.

How does Phoenix describe her situation to the white man who helps her up?
Ans: Phoenix describes that her situation is similar to a June bug. A June bug is an insect. When it is turned upside down, it cannot turn back to its normal position by itself. It needs help from someone to do so. If the people do not arrive in time, it will die. The situation of Phoenix Jackson is also same. She is too weak to come out of ditch by herself. Therefore, she simply waits for someone to come and lift her up from the ditch.

Why is Phoenix taking the long trip to town?
Ans: Phoenix has only one relative left with her who is her grandson. Once he has swallowed a solution named lye. It damaged his throat and made it painful for him to drink or eat anything. According to doctors, it couldn’t be cured. However they gave a kind of soothing medicine, which could be used to soften his throat. The medicine helps him to eat and drink.
Phoenix is going to fetch the same medicine, which she gets free from a clinic in Natchez. She makes such visit twice a year.

How does old Phoenix plan to do with the money she has got during the day? Why?
Ans: Phoenix Jackson plans to buy a paper windmill for her grandson. According to her it will be a good thing for him because the child has never seen such a wonderful thing in his life. It was also the Christmas time and it is a tradition to give gifts during this time to one’s near and dears. Since she has only one relative, she also decided to take a Christmas gift for him from the town. Besides, she has only ten cents and she cannot buy anything more valuable than a paper windmill with that sum of money.


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