In Chinua Achebe's "Dead Men's Path," Michael Obi is presented as an ambitious and intelligent young man. When he is appointed as headmaster at the backward Ndume School, he is excited for the opportunity to use his talents to better the children of the area. According to the text, "He had two aims. A high standard of teaching was insisted upon, and the school compound was to be turned into a place of beauty."
One of the first things that we learn in the short story about Michael Obi is his role as a "pivotal teacher" in other schools. Therefore, it is not surprising that he would want to continue the legacy of quality teaching that he himself adhered to when he was a teacher. He even says to his wife that he hopes the teachers won't be married so that they will dedicate more time to their work rather than worrying about their families. Once there, he does work to establish both of these goals by forming relationships with the teachers and doing things around the school property, such as planting beautiful flora. Although both of these goals seem positive, his second aim is what sparks the central conflict of the story. Because he wants the school property to be pristine, he becomes offended about the villager's use of the ancient path.