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Dead Men’s Path
“Dead Men’s Path” by Chinua Achebe is a short story about modern vs. traditional beliefs. Throughout the years, the culture of different tribes or society has changed in a lot of ways that bring about harmful reactions from people and the approval from others. Cultures are set that even if changes were to occur, people keep value of the their traditional culture and add touch of new beliefs to the modern era. In “Dead Men’s Path” the character, Obi, can be labeled both as the protagonist or the antagonist of the story because, he has a different way of viewing the beliefs of the priest from the village he lives in. In “Dead Men’s Path,” Achebe uses symbols and irony in the setting the expresses the theme of the story.
First, the main symbol that Achebe uses in the setting is the path. Achebe writes, “The path, (…) appears to be very important to them. Although it is hardly used, it connects the village shrine with their place of burial” (177). The path symbolizes the connection between the living and the dead, which represents the heritage of the village and their traditional way of life.
Moreover, even though Obi took away what was important to the villagers, I believe that in his opinion he was just attempting to improve the school. The irony of the “Dead Men’s Path” is that even though Obi’s intention was for the betterment of the school; his good intentions still led to a disaster. Often, people search to modernize people and the world around us based on our own thoughts of improvement and progression, but we cannot expect everyone’s explanation of improvement and progression to match our own. Furthermore, even with his good intention Obi failed to realized that his ignorance caused him to overlook the beliefs that has been past on from generations to generations, that his ancestors were once part of (177).
In conclusion, there are many themes to the “Dead Men’s Path,” but the conflicts mainly revolve around Obi, which represents the...