Real or Not?
In the short story “A Worn Path”, by Eudora Welty, it is very questionable whether or not the grandson actually exists. Age, mental instability, and the factor of time all support my theory that he is either a figment of her imagination or has already died long ago. There are several indicators in the text to support this analysis.
The first topic of discussion is Phoenix’s age and the age of her supposed grandson. In the first paragraph the narrator describes the main character Phoenix Jackson saying, “She was very old and small”(138). Phoenix gives brief descriptions of herself on several occasions such as “I never did go to school, I was too old at the surrender,” she said in a soft voice. “I’m an old woman without an education”(142). In this quote the reference to the surrender is the end of the civil war. Another quote from the story indicating old Phoenix’s age comes from the hunter in the forest. “Well Granny,” he said, “you must be a hundred years old and scared of nothing”(141). Phoenix describes the boy as “my little grandson”(142) and also says “ I going to the store and buy my child a little windmill”(143). This leads me to believe the grandson is very young. The nurse at the doctors office also refers to him as a boy, not a man. These descriptions give me the impression that she is too old to have a young grandson.
Another issue is Phoenix’s mental status. Phoenix appears to be mentally unstable. She suffers from hallucinations. “She did not dare to close her eyes, and when the little boy brought her a plate with a slice of marble cake on it she spoke to him. “That be acceptable,” she said. But when she went to take it there was just her own hand in the air”(139). This is a hallucination she has while she stops to rest at a stream. This suggests the possibility that the grandson may be a hallucination as well. Memory loss also gives the sense that she does not have a grip on reality. “My grandson. It was my...