The below average temperature also causes her to tremble, probably because she isn’t well dressed for her travels: “Finally, trembling all over, she stood free, and after a moment dared to stoop for her cane” (A Worn Path; para. 9). Another important factor for incorporating the Christmas season, could be the spirit of giving and the importance of family that comes with the holidays. Phoenix could have been driven by the atmosphere around her, and it pushed to get the medicine for her grandson as part of the spirit of Christmas and doing good for her family.
Although Phoenix Jackson has traveled this journey before, hence the title “A Worn Path, the length of her trip, bumps and hills and dangerous crossings along the way, do not get any easier to overcome with each trip she takes. Welty makes the reader see that Phoenix makes the journey in a day, when it is not a short one because the old lady encounters the White Hunter, who tells her she’ll never make it to town: ” ‘No, sir, I going to town. ‘ ‘Why that’s too far! That’s as far I walk when I come out myself, and I get something for my troubles'” (A Worn Path; para.17).
The resistance in our muscles and the strength we need to go up any hill by foot, can cause strain and even cause us to slow down. Phoenix seems to have experienced this as she makes her way up a hill, because she says: “Seem like there is chains about my feet, time I get this far” (A Worn Path; para. 48). Despite having crossed this path before, she is no more prepared to cross a log from one side of a creek to the other: “Putting her right foot out, she mounted the log and shut her eyes.
Lifting her skirt, leveling her cane fiercely before her, (… ). Then she opened her eyes and she was safe on the other side” (A Worn Path; para. 13). I think the author mentions twice the aspect of her eyes being closed because this tells us that she may be brave, but she is also aware and frightened at the peril below her. It is also interesting to see illustrated, here again, that Phoenix is extremely dependant on her cane to help her across.
It is with great perseverance and knowledge, physical and mental balance, that one gains wisdom. Through previous trips through Natchez Trace, Phoenix Jackson makes it to town despite her old age, the cold weather and masters obstacles on the treacherously bumpy “path” which include arriving in a clinic to get medicine for her ill grandchild. She is a woman who is pushed by loved and determined to survive despite all that is holding her back.