In the story "Dead Men's Path," what is the moral?

Expert Answers
kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A moral is a lesson that can be taken from a piece of literature.  In the case of this story, the clear lesson is that BALANCE is of the utmost importance.  Mr. Obi, the headmaster of the school, had grand plans for his school; however, he insulted the villagers by cutting off their path, which was of great significance to them, as it was said to link the living to the dead.  Obi disrespected their opinions, dismissing them flippantly.  As a result, Obi's flower gardens and hedges and one building were destroyed by the villagers as revenge for insulting them AND their dead ancestors.  eNotes remarks that:

Ironically, the same energy and enthusiasm that raise Obi to the height of his career are also responsible for his stoop-shoulderedness and frailty, his premature aging, and his eventual tragic fall. His white supervisor's negative report on the “tribal-war situation developing between the school and the village” exposes the superficiality of Obi's idealism. The once acclaimed “pivotal teacher” is then laid low by his own “misguided zeal.” (eNotes)

Obi should have realized that the improvements to the school and the ancient path could have co-existed.  It did not have to be one or the other.