What theme in Dead Men's Path seems to be the most important?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main theme in Dead Men's Path, the path down which the newly dead depart, the long dead visit and newly born babies arrive, is the clash between the Christian religion and traditional African religions and cultural ways. The priest epitomizes the traditional African ways in Obi's village when he says: "What I always say is: let the hawk perch and let the eagle perch." The tradition is to embrace paradoxes and dichotomies (the hawks and eagles) and give each due respect. Christianity has an inherent insistence on absolutism and singularity and thus does not embrace the duality that is apparent in Obi's village and symbolized by the path: it is the road of both the dead and the newly born. The traditional ways establish balance, Christianity coming head-to-head with tribal ways presents extremism and absolutism.