The story "A Worn Path" begins and ends with a journey by Phoenix Jackson. It tells a story of sheer purpose as Phoenix Jackson makes a long journey into town to get medicine for her chronically ill grandson. She begins her voyage to town on "a bright frozen day in the early morning" in December. This is a journey in which she has taken before, and now the time has come where she must travel it again. As the story begins, we are introduced to our main character, Phoenix Jackson. She is described as a small old Negro woman. I believe that the name the author gives the main character is given for a reason. The legend of the Phoenix is about a mythical sacred bird of the ancient Egyptians. The bird is said to come out of Arabia every 500 years to Heliopolis, where it burned itself on the altar and rose again from it's young and beautiful. .
The phoenix was a fabulous mythical Arabian bird, said to be as large as an eagle, with brilliant scarlet and gold plumage and a melodious cry. It was said that only one phoenix existed at any one time, and it was very long-lived - no ancient sources gave it a life-span less than 500 years. As its end approached, the phoenix made a nest of aromatic branches and spices, set it on fire, and was consumed in the flames. From the ashes miraculously sprang a new phoenix. It embalmed the ashes of its predecessor in an egg of myrrh and flew with it to Heliopolis, "city of the sun," where the egg was deposited on the altar of the sun god. In Egypt, it was usually depicted as a heron, but in the classic literature as a peacock or an eagle.
The story of the Phoenix, like all great myths, contains deep-seated truths about ourselves and our environment. The Phoenix, a bird-like creature, had a lifespan of 500 years after which it was consumed by fire. Out of the ashes emerged a new Phoenix. This regeneration may be interpreted many ways. It symbolizes, at an individual level, a recurring life process--the Phoenix rising when there is a breakthrough of awareness.