'Dead Man's Path' by Chinua Achebe - A story about the clash of two sets of values.

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‘Dead Man’s Path’ by Chinua Achebe

A story about the clash of two sets of values


This story by Chinua Achebe presents the conflict between world-views and value systems. Dead Man’s Path is set in Nigeria in 1949. It is on the subject of a man named Michael Obi who is the new, enthusiastic and wholehearted headmaster of an underprivileged and disadvantaged school. This story explores the effects of European customs and beliefs on traditional African culture.

Michael Obi is the new headmaster of Ndume Central School. The Mission authorities selected him for the job as they wanted a “young and energetic man” to administer it. Michael is a married twenty-six year old man. His wife, named Nancy, is slightly egotistical but nevertheless very kind and considerate towards her husband:

“For a few minutes she became sceptical about the new school, but it was only for a few minutes. Her little personal misfortune could blind her to her husband’s happy prospects.”

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Michael is a very passionate person with many ideas that could help transform the school. He believes in the modernisation and transformation of old beliefs. He seems to have been ‘infected’ by European customs. The word ‘infected’ is used, as it may have been thought of a bad thing then, in African culture, to believe in modern methods:

        “In their two years of married life she had become completely infected by his passion for ‘modern methods’.”

Michael had two aims for the school: A high standard of education for the children, and for the school compound to be ...

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