Dead Man Path Essay

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Essay on Dead Men’s Path
“Dead's men's path” by Chinua Achebe is an allegorical a story it tells the story of degradation of colonialism as told though the antagonist character Michael Obi. Michael is an ambition driven hardworking man who has no empathy for those around him. He is a self-loathing African filled with pride. Obi's hubris and stubborn behavior did not allow him to yield. Obi failure to reach an amicable resolution with the priest, ultimately leads to Obi's downfall. Achebe uses characterization, symbols and setting to tell an episodic plot. This story shows the importance of cultural and religious traditions.
"A man's pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor.” Obi is a 23-year-old African born who “energetic, young and a pivotal teacher.” Obi’s passion and motivation for modernization propel him to the position of headmaster of the Ndume School. Obi is also married and his wife Nancy gives the reader an insight on Obi’s personality and features of selfishness. Here Achebe introduces the exposition. Achebe uses the word Frail (Achebe 236) to describe obi's physical appearance. Obi was " only twenty –six but look thirty or more." (236) One can say this may come from years of working hard. He was all about performance. This show when he tells his wife Nancy his colleagues will be able to give all their time to and energy to the school because they do not have families. (236). Obi also lacks empathy. One can see this when Obi did not recognize the meaning of his wife asking if there are other wives (236). It never crosses Obi's mind to consider his wife reason for asking such a question. One can also see Obi shows no empathy towards the needs of the villagers as he blocks their ancestral footpath. Obis lack of respect shows in the dialogue with the priest, where Obi says, " Our duty is to teach our children to laugh at such ideas." (237) Obi shows no respect for traditional values. Obi shows the lack of respect by closing the path. His stubbornness introduces the complication in the story, as Obi put up barbed wires to block the path. When the priest visits Obi about this situation Obi let his idealism get in the way. Obi does not allow room for the two customs to exist side by side. (237) Obi's pride, " misguided zeal" ultimately causes Obi's downfall. Obi’s white supervisor pays a visit to the school finding it in ruins and give Obi bad review. Obi's is a static character, as he does not change through out the story. The priest is the protagonist in the story. The priest arrival introduces conflict; the developing conflict between traditional African culture and Western culture. The priest is old as he is wise. This wisdom is shown in the words he says to Obi " let the hawk and the eagle perch." (238) One can say the priest is showing the importance of tolerance between traditions, this is the moment of crisis, were issues could have been resolved. Obi has the chance to accept the Olive branch the priest is extending. The teacher in the story is a stock character and is only there to move the story forward and show foreshadowing of the path. When he tells Obi he "remembers there was big row sometime ago when we attempted to close it." The teacher vaguely introduces the symbol of the path. There are traditional symbols throughout the story. One can say the garden was a symbol in Obi's eyes it was a place of beauty. It was Obi's Garden of Eden and he was a God, the creator of it all. He stood proud "admiring his work" (236) the diction used by the priest is an old Igbo African Proverb (238) is also a…