What is the theme and geographical location of Chinua Achebe's "Dead Men's Path?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The location of Chinua Achebe's "Dead Men's Path" plays wholly into to theme of the text as well. The story of Michael Obi, the Ndume School, and the village shrine/cemetery takes place in Nigeria. Obviously off the beaten path, the village and school are considered (by Obi) to be backward, lacking in Christian faith, and lacking progression.

The geographical location plays into the theme because of Obi's ideology that the villagers need to, in essence, be saved from themselves. He considers the villagers to backward in their religious thought (honoring deceased ancestors and practicing animism). Obi does not agree with the beliefs of the village, which is why he wires off the cemetery. His intent to modernize the village does not allow them to keep their current beliefs. Essentially, the theme of cultural conflict resonates throughout the story illustrated through the conflict between Obi and the villagers. The greatest action which speaks to the thesis is the destruction of the school's hedges and one building (the villagers simply refuse to conform).


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