Dead Men’s Path by Chinua Achebe
PLOT: Beginning - Michael Obi being appointed Head Master of Ndume Central School. Then Mr Obi noticed an old woman hobbling in the the hedges where a path was running through the school. He ignored the cultural reasons of this path and just covered it with barbed wire and fences. So the village priest told Mr.Obi to reopen the path as it was preventing spirits entering and the leaving the village. He decided to disobey this order and said that the path was 'against our regulations.' and suggested that a new path should be build around the premises of the school. Unfortunately for Mr.Obi a death of woman at childbirth set the villagers off and made them angry about the closure of the path so they destroyed the school and the surrounds plants and fences surrounding the path. An inspector visited the school and criticised Mr.Obi's way of dealing with the situation.
CHARACTERISATION: Michael Obi
CHARACTERISATION: Michael Obi - the main character. He does have positive qualities such as he is well educated so deserves his job as headmaster, he is young and knowledgeable although his negatives is to compromise are a downfall and his arrogance is irritating. He believes everything modern is right and insults the old fashioned ways. The ending, Mr.Obi is made to look stupid.. ‘what a grand opportunity we've got at last to show these people how a school should be run’ and then things get changed round when the story ends with a report on the tribal war and the situation between the school and the village. Obi's wife shared his beliefs about modern ways. ‘She began to see herself already as the admired wife of the young headmaster, the queen of the school. The wives of the other teachers would envy her position. She would set the fashion in everything…’ The village priest represents tradition and good sense. He is everything Obi is not. ‘What you say may be true, but we follow the practices of our fathers’ ‘What I always say is: let the hawk perch and let the eagle perch’
Dead Men's Path - Continued
THEMES: Mainly the strory is about the clash between the modern and traditional ways. Two different cultures; Obi being the modern and the Priest being the traditional. this sotry shows that the tradional way is better as the author must agree with the priest because Obi fails at the end. Also education is involved in this story; Obi is the more educated character in the story but it shows that education isn't always positive and supported by the less educated. The last point leads to another theme – the abuse of power or authority. As a headmaster, Obi has the trust of the community; children are society’s most valuable possession. His job is to support and serve the villagers, but because he is so arrogant and believes himself to be better educated, he thinks he knows what these people need and imposes it on them, which is why they rebel.
CONNECTIONS: • Education and teachers: Mr Chase in The Pieces of Silver; Anna Vasilevna in The Winter Oak; Neo in Snapshots of a Wedding • Abuse of Power: The Deputy District Officer in The Gold-Legged Frog; the Tailor’s wife in The Tall Woman; Mr Chase in The Pieces of Silver; the Police Inspector in Leela’s Friend • Conflict between traditional and modern: Neo in Snapshots of a Wedding; Jing-mei and her mother in Two Kinds