Study Guide

The Hunter in A Worn Path

By Eudora Welty

The Hunter

The hunter is the only person Phoenix speaks to on the country part of the path. Well, she does talk to a little boy bringing a piece of cake, but that is really more of a daydream, so we won't count him. The hunter is a young white man, which means in physical attributes at least, he is the total opposite of Phoenix, an old black woman.

Phoenix meets the hunter when he helps her up from a ditch after she's knocked down by a wayward dog. Helping Phoenix up is a kind gesture, but after this the interaction between Phoenix and the hunter gets a little confusing. Sometimes it seems like the hunter is being kind to her—for example, he seems to be concerned about her wellbeing when he finds out how far she has to go. But then there are other times when he is clearly cut from villain material. He's violent, he lies, he's racist, and he's ageist, all of which are very bad things.

Like the attendant, the hunter discounts the admirable qualities that we have come to know and revere in Phoenix, reducing her from hero to silly old woman and belittling her. The hunter is more threatening than the attendant, though, as he points out all the things Phoenix should fear on her journey, such as her age, the distance she has to cover, men with guns, and her poverty. Plus the guy literally puts a gun in her face. Ugh. That he ultimately leaves her alone is clearly his choice, a stark reminder that white men rules the world Phoenix lives in.

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