"A Worn Path" definitely feels like it happens in two parts—the country portion and the city portion, with a noticeable shift in atmosphere between the two. In the country, there is lavish description with frequent interjections from Phoenix's strong voice. In the city, the dubious and semi-hostile voices of other characters dominate, and there is very little setting description at all.
Probably the biggest change between the regions, though, is what happens to Phoenix in the city. Yes, she faces obstacles and fears in the country, and she doubts herself at times, but she holds her own like a boss every single time. In the city, however, that bold Phoenix withers into a comparably helpless old woman at some points, and she becomes mostly silent.
Questions About Contrasting Regions
- There are elaborate descriptions of the setting along Natchez Trace. Why is there so little description of setting in the doctor's office? Pick two passages to directly compare.
- What character differences appear between the country and the city? Why is Phoenix so different in the city?
- What kind of obstacles does Phoenix face in the country, and what kind does she face in the city?
Chew on This
The characters Phoenix encounters in the city are ignorant of and unsympathetic to the hardships experienced by Mississippi's rural populations.
Qualities that signify strength in the country are irrelevant when it comes to being successful in city life.