In the short stories A Worn Path by Eudora Welty and The Jilting of Granny Weatherall by Katherine Anne Porter, both women overcame several obstacles. In A Worn Path Phoenix Jackson faced obstacles such as her old age, physical challenges, and how others viewed her. Granny faced obstacles such as dying, feeling betrayed from her children, and disappointment in her love life. In A Worn Path by Eudora Welty an elderly African American woman named Phoenix Jackson picks a cold December day to make yet another perilous journey to a near by city to get medicine for her ailing grandson.
On the way this old woman faces many obstacles, both natural and man-made. Phoenix draws upon her perseverance and willingness to sacrifice herself to help her throughout her journey, but it is the undying love for her grandson that truly guides and drives her to her final goal. She is described as being a very old woman. Her eyes were blue with age. Her skin had a pattern all its own of numberless branching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood in the middle of her forehead, but a golden color run underneath, and the two knobs of her cheeks were illuminated by a yellow burning under the dark (Welty 386).
These all show an indication of her old age. Also, her loss of memory indicates her old age. It was only until Phoenix reached the doctors office she remembered why she went on her journey. My grandson. It was my memory had left me. There I sat and forgot why I made my trip(Welty 394). Another character in the story was a white man who was a hunter. When Phoenix falls in the ditch, he helps her out of the ditch. Even though the hunter helps Phoenix, he still poses as a threat to her, because it seems he did not want her to finish her journey. This is made apparent when he states, Why, thats too far!
Thats as far as I walk when I come out myself, and I get something for my trouble(Welty 391). In addition, like her name, Phoenix seems ageless. When she stops to drink water from the spring she says, Nobody know who made this well, for it was here when I was born(Welty 391). When she encounters the hunter and he asks her how old she is she says, There is no telling, mister, said, no telling (Welty 392). Again her age is emphasized when she goes to the doctors office and the nurse ask her why she never went to school. I never did go to school, I was too old at the Surrender (Welty 394).
Phoenix also faced physical obstacles on her Journey. Phoenix is a very old woman whose aged, fragile body isnt suited to make such a long journey. At one point when she is climbing up a hill, she states that it seems like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far. And yet she still trudges onward, stopping only once for a short break. On the way down the hill she gets caught in a bush, its thorns tearing at her finest dress. I in a thorny bush, she exclaims. But she doesnt give up; she stands there untangling herself from the bush, her fingers busy and intent.
After she has overcome this obstacle she faces yet another trial. Across Phoenixs path lies a creek and across the creek lies a log, which substitutes as a bridge. It is hard enough for Phoenix to walk on flat and stable ground, so walking across the log is a dangerous challenge for her. Even though there is a large threat of her falling and badly hurting herself, she mounted the log and shut her eyes and crosses to the other side. Next she comes across a barbwire fence, and once again without showing any signs of fear she fords ahead crossing that too.
Phoenix travels a good portion of the day facing many physical challenges that test her stamina, but the real trials are the physiological ones that she faces as she encounters people along her journey. Last but not least, Phoenix overcame obstacles involving the people she encountered. The first person that she meets is a hunter. In the beginning he seems like a benevolent character because he lifted her up, gave her a swing in the air, and set her down, helping her out of the ditch that a dog had pushed her into. He even inquires anything broken, Granny? and goes on to ask her where she lives.
But then his manner turns unfriendly. Why, thats too far now you go on home, Granny! he exclaims when he learns where Old Phoenix is headed. He even starts to belittle her, trying to insinuate that his race is superior to hers. I know you old colored people! Wouldnt miss going to town to see Santa Claus! he says implying that Phoenix would make such a long and arduous trip to satisfy a mere childish whim. The hunter even turns hostile pointing a gun at Phoenix just to see her reaction. Doesnt the gun scare you? he asks. No, sir, I seen plenty go off closer, in my day, she replies calmly and respectfully.
The hunter sees the courage that emanates from her and decides to leave her alone. Another quality that Phoenix possesses that helps her make her journey is a deep sense of self-sacrifice. This sense of self-sacrifice gives her the ability to risk getting hurt or even killed in order to get what her grandson needs. This sense of self sacrifice is present throughout the story for the journey itself is a constant battle where Phoenix gives up her comfort and security to go into a strange and hostile environment for the medicine. Such a hostile environment is the city.
As Phoenix says herself, she is an old woman without an education, who has probably lived in the country all of her life. The city is a foreign and intimidating place to her, but she ventures in for the sake of her grandson. Phoenix Jackson draws upon her immense love for her ailing grandson to produce perseverance, resourcefulness and willingness to live that otherwise would never be there. The greatest example of this comes at the end of the story, when Phoenix has reached the doctors office. At this point Phoenix has been challenged physically, emotionally and physiologically and she is worn out.
She is on the brink of collapse when she reaches the doctors office and the only thought that fills her mind is that she has made it. So, when the attendant in the doctors office asks her why she has come, Phoenix completely blanks out. She has been pushing herself so hard for so long that she no longer remembers why she must get to the city, but only that she must somehow make her way to the doctors office. Even when a nurse, who knows Phoenix, comes in and reminds her of her grandson, Phoenix doesnt remember. Only when the nurse cold-heartedly says, he isnt dead is he? es Phoenix remember.
The story ends with Phoenix going out to a store to buy her grandson a toy with the money that she has acquired during the journey. She doesnt even think for a second to go and buy herself something to eat something to sustain her on the long and cold walk home. Her love and devotion support her and give her an endless source of almost supernatural strength. The strength that she radiates toward her grandson, the strength that nourishes his life. The Jilting of Granny Weatherall describes the last thoughts, feelings, and memories of n elderly woman.
As Granny Weatheralls life literally flashes before her eyes, the importance of the title of the story becomes obvious. Just Like Phoenix Jackson, Granny is an older woman. This is indicated in the story when Cornelia makes a statement saying, Dont cross her, let her have her way, shes eighty years old. (Porter, 506). This is also indicated in the beginning when Granny tells Dr. Harry, Thats no way to speak to a woman nearly 80 years old just because shes down. Id have you respect your elders young man. Grannys age ties in to her challenge of facing death.
The author gives an indication several times that Granny is sick and dying. The flashbacks and chills that the reader states give you a vivid imagination and leads you to believe that Granny is on her death bed. Granny Weatheralls past lover George, husband John, daughter Cornelia, and God all did an injustice by what Porter refers to as jilting. This unending cycle of wrongdoing caused Granny to be a mixture of strength, bitterness, and ultimate fear as she faces her last moments in life. Granny gained her strength by the people that she felt jilted by. George stood Granny up at the altar.
He never showed at all and it is never stated that she heard from him again. The pain forced Granny to be strong as is proven by her thoughts when she is asked if anything could be done for her. I want you to find George. Find him and be sure to tell him I forgot him. I want him to know I had my husband just the same and my children and my house like any other woman Tell him I was given back everything he took away and more (Porter 584). Granny did marry a man named John, but her strength was again tested when he died at a young age, leaving her to raise their children on her own.
Sometimes she wanted to see John again and point to them and say, well, I didnt do so badly did I? (582). She had been strong enough to carry the burden of two lost loves and raise good children at the same time. It was one of these children, Cornelia, who made her act somewhat bitterly in her last days. With her daughter whispering about her and saying she should be humored at her old age, Granny felt like she had been in some way betrayed. It was strange about children. They disputed your every word (584). She felt like Cornelia was treating her like a child.
The thing that most annoyed her was that Cornelia thought she was deaf, dumb, and blind. Little hasty glances and tiny gestures tossed around her and over her head saying, Dont cross her, let her have her way, shes eighty years old, and she sitting there as if she lived in a thick glass cage (582). These gestures and whispers made Granny feel as though Cornelia had jilted her too. In her most final moments, as she felt herself slipping into death, she could not find a sign of God, George, or John to welcome her.
Not only did the two most important people to her jilt her in life, but also in death and by the most important man-figure of all, God. Granny laystaring at the point of light that was herself; her body was now only a deeper mass of shadow in an endless darkness and this darkness would curl around the light and swallow it up. God, give a sign! (586). She had once again been left at the altar, but this time, the altar of death. For the second time there was no sign. Once again there was no bridegroom and the priest in the house.
She could not remember any other sorrow because this grief wiped them all awaytheres nothing more cruel than this-Ill never forgive it (588). In life and in death, Granny Weatherall has been jilted and therefore made strong, bitter, and fearful. One must wonder that with these three characteristics in life, she must have due a great compensation in the afterlife. The greatest wrongdoing was that having been promised a Heaven, an eternal life, and Granny was once again left alone. Granny was much like Phoenix Jackson they both came had to overcome obstacles or challenges in life that made them stronger.
Granny had to deal with the heartache and pain of being deceived and disappointed by what she thought was love and Phoenix had to overcome the obstacles of traveling a difficult Journey because of the love she had for her grandson. Fate can control humans lives and can help humans reach the end of the challenging path. Phoenixs and Granny Weatheralls ability to withstand and overcome these challenges shows their strong determination, and the will power to endure hardship continue to be strong.