by CHINUA ACHEBE
The title of this story "Dead Man's Path" foreshadows the series of events about to take place in the story. "Dead Man's Path" does not only refer to the ancestral pathway but also refers to Obi's choice of action. His "path" by not compromising has made him a "Dead Man". Dead in this context is not death, but is referring to his failure. His dream died. The title also foreshadows dark events that would occur in the story. Meaning this story has quite a sad ending to it, not at all a happy story.
In this story "Dead Man's Path", Chinua Achebe gives the protagonist Michael Obi, a 26 years old secondary school teacher, a great chance of fulfilling his dream. He was appointed by the Mission Authorities to be the headmaster of Ndume Central School in Nigeria. "Mission Authorities" (page 618) are Christian Missionaries who were also the authorities in Africa. They are foreigners who have been sent everywhere around the world to teach Christianity. This is actually a foreshadowing that this story will touch on religion and beliefs. The Mission Authorities might have sent a "modern" man like Obi to this backward school to teach the people there about Christianity as Obi said; "Our duty is to teach your children to laugh at such ideas." (page 620). He, with the support of his wife Nancy, wants to make everything in the school perfect and modern. They decided to plant a garden, unfortunately, across and ancient footpath used by the natives he is supposed to teach. Michael Obi portrays the modern culture with his disbelief of superstitions unlike the antagonists, which are the villagers led by the village head priest.
The point of conflict is introduced at Paragraph 12 "One evening as Obi was admiring his work, he was scandalized to see an old woman from the village hobble right across the compound, through the marigold flower-bed and the hedges." Although explained by a teacher that this footpath is vital to the villagers, Obi...