On the surface it is a story about the trials and tribulations of old age and the love of a grandmother for the boy in her care. The main character, Phoenix Jackson, making the long trip to Natchez on foot on a "bright, frozen" December day, is dressed in a long, dark dress with an apron made of sugar sacks over it, a red head rag and unlaced shoes. Throughout most of the first part of the narration the woman talks to herself along the way, often referring to herself as old, one time even saying she's the oldest person she knows, and Welty describes her as "very old and small" and using a cane made of an old umbrella. This gives us an explanation of why her shoes are untied: it's implied that she's too old to be able to reach the laces.
During her trek Phoenix comes across a young, and as the author stresses, white hunter who helps her out of a ditch after she falls into it, scared by a stray dog that crosses her path. In addressing Phoenix, he calls her "Grandma" and "Granny". Upon Phoenix's second encounter, this time with a lady once she reaches Natchez, she is also addressed as Grandma. ...Show more