|Dead Men’s Path by Chinua Achebe |
|Brief summary | |Dead Men’s Path is about a young man, Michael Obi, who is made headmaster of a school in order to modernize it. | |Michael and his wife Nancy both want to improve academic standards and to turn the school compound into a place of beauty. | |One day he sees an old woman from the village walk straight through the flower beds, and one of the teachers informs him that a path connecting the | |village shrine with the burial place crosses the schoolyard. This is the kind of old-fashioned superstition Michael wants to wipe out, so he closes the| |path. | |The village priest – the Ani – asks him politely to re-open it because of its importance for the villagers. | |They believe that their dead use it to leave the village, that it gives their ancestors access for visits and that it is used by babies wanting to be | |born in the village. Obi, however, refuses to re-open the path. | |Two days later, a young woman dies in childbirth and the villagers blame Obi for blocking the path. | |They destroy the garden and part of the school. When the school inspector ( the white Supervisor) arrives that very same day , Michael receives a very| |bad report, which blames him for causing some kind of ‘tribal war’. |
|Structure of the plot | |The plot is very straightforward. Once the reader has recognized Michael’s intolerance , he expects some sort of conflict with the local people. | |Exposition: Michael Obi , the main character, is introduced in the first paragraph. After the optimistic | |description of his energy and desire to change things, he condemns other headmasters for | |their narrow views. The reader’s interest is aroused and we wonder if he will be successful. | |Rising tension; foreshadowing: At first things go well, but problems arise when Obi notices that the | |villagers are walking through the new garden. When he asks one of the teachers about it he | |learns that this has happened before and that “there was a big row” when they tried to close | |it. When Obi ignores this warning another row is inevitable. | |We notice a further foreshadowing of a clash when the priest explains that the most | |important function of the path is that it is used by babies coming to the village to be born. | |Climax and ending: The climax follows quickly after the second foreshadowing, when a woman dies in | |childbirth and the villagers blame Obi for closing the path. As a result they destroy the...
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