One contrast between Michael and the villagers is their understanding of cultural identity. For Michael, indigenous cultural identity is dismissed as "backwards" and "narrow views." Michael fails to see anything of value in the Ndume way of life and in their perception of reality. He enters with an external understanding of how reality should be constructed and has little problem imposing this upon the villagers. The villagers are shown to revere their cultural identity and view with skepticism and disdain what Michael seeks to impose upon them. Their forceful condemnation of his attitude ends up forming the crux of the story's action.
Another contrast between both the villagers and Michael is their understanding of spiritual notions of the good. The villagers are quick to blame the closing of the path for the death of the young woman in the village and the angering of the spiritual elders. This is contrasted with Michael who refuses to believe in any such idea. The villagers' excessive embrace of the supernatural and Michael's lack of it help to provide another contrast that drives the story to its natural end.