There is no question that Welty knew what she was doing when she chose to name the main character of “A Worn Path” Phoenix Jackson. A Phoenix is a mythological creature that lives for five centuries before burning to ashes. After burning, the creature rises back to life as a young bird from these ashes and the cycle repeats itself without end. That Phoenix shares a name with such a creature reflects her indefatigable nature, her constant striving towards her goal, as well as her unflagging optimism and high spirits. The name also suggests Phoenix’s longevity: though the story takes place in 1941, she was already too old in 1865 to go to school. Like a phoenix, too, she makes her journey again and again without failure. Finally, the phoenix was also seen as a symbol for Christ, who was also resurrected. And so Phoenix’s name also marks her as a Christ figure in the story.
Phoenix Quotes in A Worn Path
The A Worn Path quotes below all refer to the symbol of Phoenix. 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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer 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.”