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Published: 07-09-2019

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Theme of Dead Man's Path by Chinua Achebe

This story by Chinua Achebe presents the conflict among world-views and worth systems. The setting of Dead Man’s Path requires place in Nigeria in 1949. It is on the topic of a man named Michael Obi who is the new, enthusiastic and wholehearted headmaster of a disadvantaged and underprivileged school. This story explores the effects of European customs and beliefs on standard African culture.

Michael Obi is the new headmaster of Ndume Central College. The Mission authorities chosen him for the job simply because they had been searching for a “young and energetic man” to administer it. Michael is a twenty-six-year-old married man. His wife, named Nancy, is slightly egotistical but nevertheless, very type and considerate towards her husband: “For a handful of minutes she became skeptical about the new school, but it was only for a few minutes. Her tiny private misfortune could blind her to her husband’s pleased prospects.” Michael is a really passionate particular person with numerous ideas that could assist transform the school. He believes in the modernization and transformation of old beliefs. He appears to have been ‘infected’ by European customs. The word ‘infected’ is utilised, as it may have been believed of a negative factor then, in African culture, to believe in modern day techniques: “In their two years of married life she had become fully infected by his passion for ‘modern methods’.” Michael had two aims for the school: A higher normal of education for the children, and for the college to be reconstructed into a location of beauty. He also decided what sort of teachers ought to be employed at the college. He chose that all teachers must be young and unmarried. He believed that this way, all the teachers would put all their time operate and energy into their job and not be distracted by other commitments and folks. His wife Nancy was against this thought as she wanted the teachers to be married so that other wives could “envy her position” and “she would set the style in every little thing.” This is a key example of Michael’s wife’s self-centeredness. Michael managed to transform the school gardens into a place of beauty. A single day even though he was admiring his function, he saw an old lady walking along a disused path that ran through the college compound.

This annoyed Michael and he inquired 1 member of his employees about it. He located out that this path is apparently quite important and blessed as it connects the village shrine to the cemetery. Michael was extremely selfless at this moment and decided to close down the path, as in a few days a “white inspector” would be coming to pay a visit to the school.

Michael felt that the college couldn’t be used as a ‘through fare.’ Soon the path was closed and blocked off with barbed wire. A couple of days later the village priest named upon the headmaster. The priest talked with Michael for a although. He wanted Michael to reopen the path. You get the impression from the priest that he is a really frail and elderly man who does not wish to begin an argument, but merely get his opinion and thoughts across to Michael. The priest believed that the path was really sacred as ‘our dead relatives depart by it, and our ancestors visit us by it.’

This is a crucial example of traditionalist values: the path is ancient and sacred and dates back a long time it is of great value to the village as it is a hyperlink from the dead relatives to the village shrine. Michael responds to the priest with a ‘satisfied smile’ on his face. He tells the priest that the entire concept of a ‘dead man’s path’, is specifically what he is teaching the children not to believe in. Michael believes that the entire concept of a dead man’s footpath is totally fictional, imaginary and ‘fantastic.’ The priest responds by telling Michael some words of wisdom: ‘Let the hawk perch and let the eagle perch.’ This is fundamentally saying that if you do what I say, we shall be at peace. The path does no harm you carry on with your college and let the path be reopened. The priest then leaves Michael alone. I think he does this as he wishes for Michael to reflect on what he has just said. A couple of days later a lady died while giving birth to a youngster. A diviner who is a (spiritualist) prescribes heavy sacrifices to propitiate ancestors insulted by the fence.

This, consequently, means that the diviner is angry that the path has been closed, and blames the death of the girls on the closing of the path. The diviner believes that ancestors and dead individuals have been insulted by the blocking of their path. Therefore, Michael’s modernized college is pulled down and the gardens are trampled upon. The inspector then came to go to and wrote a very mean report about the college and the circumstance among the college and the village.

This story shows us how modernization can clash with traditionalist values. The closure of the path clashes with the views of the folks and the priest. The story symbolizes how traditionalism and modernization take portion in the story and how they adapted to the culture.
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