In "Dead Men's Path," why is Obi’s zeal a gift and a curse?

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In Chinua Achebe's short story "Dead Man's Path," Michael Obi is portrayed as an energetic, zealous headmaster who transforms the Ndume Central School into a modern facility with a high standard of education. Michael Obi's zeal and ambition allow him to become a headmaster at a young age and accomplish an incredible feat by completely modernizing the Ndume Central School. His progressive methods and drive to transform the backward school and educate the villagers is admirable and impressive. At such a young age, Michael Obi is already a respected headmaster and has significantly raised the standard of education in the region. In addition to maintaining an orderly, progressive school, Michael Obi has also turned the school's compound into a place of beauty.

Despite the many positives attached to Michael Obi's zeal, his enthusiasm and passion for modernity prevent him from exercising perspective and respecting the traditional culture of the villagers. Michael Obi is unwilling to compromise with the older members of the surrounding village and dismisses the village priest's wise advice by deciding to block the ancestral footpath running through the school's compound. Obi neglects to exercise tolerance, and his overzealous personality makes him inflexible. Michael Obi's decision to block the ancestral footpath leads to conflict with the villagers, who destroy the beautiful grounds of his compound, which leaves a negative impression on the Government Education Officer when he visits the school. Overall, Michael Obi's zeal enables him to transform the Ndume Central School and attain a position of authority at a young age but also negatively influences his judgment and relations with the villagers.

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