To emphasize the cultural conflict between modern ideas and traditional beliefs, as well as the pride and human weaknesses, namely, dogmatism and stubbornness, Achebe frequently utilizes contrast throughout the plot, characterization and themes to distinctly stress the importance of respecting the old costumes.
Achebe gives the readers a picture of Obi’s personalities in the exposition of the story; as the protagonist possesses the weaknesses of mankind like ego and pride, he actually represents the people who try to educate the natives out of their traditional beliefs just because they seem unreasonable and nonsensical to them. It hints the opposing opening and ending ----his arrogance, ignorance of other’s opinions all lead to his failure of the project. The writer portrayed him as a “young and energetic” man who wants to alter the values of the school by bringing his “wonderful ideas” to the “unprogressive school” that seems “backward in every sense”, he wants to show people” how a school should be ran”. He is also “outspoken” in “contaminating” the “less educated one”. These are perfect examples for his pride and arrogance and also, the sole reasons of his prejudice and “misguide zeal” that lead to his downfall. Additionally, Obi and his wife are greatly influenced by the western beliefs; this can be shown from their plan to make the school compound into “a place of beauty” by accommodating the compound with flowers and hedges that symbolize western ideas. The reverse of fate in the climax, a forceful attempt of closing the Dead Man’s Path, is made by Obi by blocking it with “heavy sticks”, and strengthened by “barbed wires”, it illustrates the clash between European and African mentality and this leads to the rebel of the native and the heavily ironic ending. The story ends with Obi waking up with his work “ruined”, “flowers trampled”, “hedges torn up” and “one of the school buildings pulled down”. For a man valuing his reputation and who is full of...
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