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Opening Worlds
Setting: Town/Country; Social/ Political

1. Achebe, Dead Men's Path: Nigeria; village school, made 'beautiful' by 'Nancy's dream
gardens' (48). Headmaster is appointed by 'Mission' (=Christian); the 'almost disused path'
(55) 'connects the village shrine with their place of burial' (61-62) and is part of a pagan
belief…

Page 2

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flat ­ with marvellous views ­ is contrasted with the very heavily-furnished family home of
N ­ 'too rich' (374), too 'ornate' and over-materialistic (132). She will miss the view of the
birds circling freely and lightly round the mausoleum dome (338; 485). She sees her high
flat as…

Page 3

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Opening Worlds
Characters

1. Achebe, Dead Men's Path: Old (wise) village priest; Michael Obi, new Headmaster; young
(26), energetic, over-enthusiastic, 'outspoken in his condemnation' of others (10). Wife,
Nancy; 'beautiful gardens' ­ 'everything will be just modern and delightful' (15); easily led
by husband; vain: sees herself as 'the…

Page 4

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that this is why others marry, including the couple she persecutes (263-4). She helps the
police (like an 'informer'). Insight into her motivation given (128): she feels 'resentment' of
Mrs Tall's 'luck' at marrying a rich man, and seeks power. She allies herself with 'the
revolutionaries from the institute'…

Page 5

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N doesn't defend their 'nest' and eventually seems to agree with his mother about it. He
complains about their flat. He has changed: he has 'outgrown' all his friends. She is sorry
about this loss in his life. Then N 'dismissed their old sweeper-woman' (467). Finally N
tells her…

Page 6

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Opening Worlds
Theme/Moral

1. Achebe, Dead Men's Path: Nigeria; Headmaster and wife are over-zealous and self-
admiring. Danger of aesthetic view ('a place of beauty' ­ 48) colliding with, and over-ruling
a moral view. They're keen to fulfil their dreams, but don't respect the old tribal traditions:
the old…

Page 7

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6. Ji-cai, The Tall Woman and Her Short Husband: People who are different at a time of
great conformity are treated as outsiders and mocked, ridiculed, persecuted; they become
objects of ridicule but also of curiosity, gossip and profound interest/speculation/intrigue.
The story brilliantly depicts malice and vicious meddlesomeness in…

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