A Worn Path

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Grandson Character Analysis

For Phoenix, her grandson represents the future of her family, and perhaps, for black people in general. Though we never get to see him, we do know that he suffers greatly after having swallowed lye a few years earlier as a young boy. The nurse in the city seems to believe that his hopes for the future are rather dim, yet Phoenix is confident that the boy will endure, saying that he “will last.” Phoenix not only wants to give her grandson his needed medicine, it is revealed at the end of the story that she also wants to him a sense of the wonder and possibility in the world in the form of the paper windmill.

Grandson Quotes in A Worn Path

The A Worn Path quotes below are all either spoken by Grandson or refer to Grandson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race and Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt Brace edition of A Worn Path published in 1982.
A Worn Path Quotes

“We is the only two left in the world. He suffer and it don’t seem to put him back at all…He going to last…I could tell him from all the others in creation.”

Related Characters: Phoenix Jackson (speaker), Grandson
Related Symbols: Phoenix
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

The nurse has explained to the attendant that Phoenix comes to get medicine for her grandson, who swallowed lye when he was young and still suffers immensely as a result. While the nurse seems pessimistic about the boy's health, Phoenix speaks about him with a deep sense of faith and love. It is clear from Phoenix's words that her grandson represents not just one individual case, but the whole future of black people in America. Whereas the nurse's view points to the immense difficulty and hardship that Phoenix's grandson experiences, Phoenix remains convinced that there is something special about her grandson that will ensure he endures ("He going to last"). 

Indeed, the character of the grandson can be seen as embodying the symbol of the phoenix, a view emphasized by Phoenix's comment that he sits at home in a quilt "holding his mouth open like a little bird." Through his misfortune and illness, the grandson exists in a state near to death; however, his grandmother maintains that, like the phoenix, he will ultimately survive and flourish. 

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“This is what come to me to do…I going to the store and buy my child a little windmill they sells, made out of paper. He going to find it hard to believe there such a thing in the world.”

Related Characters: Phoenix Jackson (speaker), Grandson
Related Symbols: The Paper Windmill
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
Phoenix has received the medicine and the attendant has offered her a nickel, an act of charity in keeping with the Christmas season. Phoenix accepts the money and resolves to buy her grandson a paper windmill, reflecting that he won't be able to "believe there such a thing in the world." Phoenix's plan reveals her selflessness and generosity, and undercuts any suspicions the reader might have developed (particular during the hunter's nickel scene) that Phoenix was partly out for her own material gain. Not only her decision to buy the windmill, but the entire trip to town in the first place has been in service only of her grandson. Despite her absolute poverty, she never considers putting herself above him. Phoenix's anticipation at her grandson's shock upon receiving the windmill is similarly moving, highlighting the scarcity of their lives by claiming that such a simple, fragile object will bring him such intense joy. 
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Grandson Character Timeline in A Worn Path

The timeline below shows where the character Grandson appears in A Worn Path. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
A Worn Path
Race and Class Theme Icon
Perseverance and Power Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Human Dignity Theme Icon
...her as “old Aunt Phoenix” who comes “as regular as clockwork” to pick up her grandson’s medication—he swallowed lye a few years ago, which damaged his throat—and offers her a seat.... (full context)
Perseverance and Power Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Human Dignity Theme Icon
The nurse, speaking loudly and slowly, suggests that the grandson will never heal. Phoenix, however, says the boy’s suffering never holds him down and states... (full context)
Race and Class Theme Icon
Perseverance and Power Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
Nature and City Theme Icon
Human Dignity Theme Icon
...the floor, and declares that she is going to buy a paper windmill for her grandson, that “he will find it hard to believe there is such a thing in the... (full context)