According to the short story "Dead Men's Path," what is Michael Obi's attitude toward the ideas of the villagers?

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Vikash Lata eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Michael Obi is highly contemptuous and intolerant of the ideas sacred to the villagers. He derides their sanctified traditional beliefs as irrational, illogical and superstitious.

His antipathy to such beliefs becomes visible in the very first paragraph which says, 

‘He (Obi) was outspoken in his condemnation of the narrow views of these older and often less educated ones.'

The discovery of an ancestral path running through the school premises annoys Obi greatly. A school teacher tells him how important and sacred this path is to the villages. It is the path that “connects the village shrine with their place of burial." Obi, who is passionate about “modern methods,” dismisses coldly the villagers’ age-old custom of using this path as a ‘pagan ritual.’ He immediately gets it blocked.

The village priest, a wise, soft-spoken and polite old villager tells Obi their sacrosanct beliefs about the ancestral path:

“The whole life of this village depends on it (the ancestral path). Our dead relatives depart by it and our ancestors visit us by it. But most important, it is the path of children coming in to be born…"

Obi’s callous response expresses his derision and apathy most vocally:

 "The whole purpose of our school … is to eradicate just such beliefs as that. Dead men do not require footpaths. The whole idea is just fantastic. Our duty is to teach your children to laugh at such ideas." 

Obi is completely insensitive to the long established and revered thoughts of the villagers. He feels no scruples to condemn and scorn them in the face of a man who is much older than him. Quite blatantly Obi tells him that their ideas are completely ridiculous and he considered it his duty to teach the village children “to laugh at such ideas.”

Read the study guide:
Dead Men's Path

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