How does "Dead Men's Path" contrast youth's arrogance with the wisdom of old age?

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The opposition between Michael Obi and the village priest is not altogether clear cut, nor is the author entirely without sympathy for the young headmaster and his reforming zeal. However, Obi is certainly arrogant in his rejection of traditional beliefs as superstitions that have to be swept away. He has "a satisfied smile on his face" as he tells the priest,

Dead men do not require footpaths. The whole idea is just fantastic. Our duty is to teach your children to laugh at such ideas.

The white supervisor who inspects the school in the final paragraph refers to "the misguided zeal of the new headmaster," and it is clearly misguided to think that the purpose of education is to teach children to laugh at the beliefs of their parents. Even if this particular conflict over the path had not arisen, such a scornful attitude to the parents of his pupils would certainly have caused trouble for Obi sooner or later.

The village priest shows a more tolerant and thoughtful attitude. He does not try to proselytize or demand that Obi show respect for his beliefs. His motto, "let the hawk perch and let the eagle perch," encapsulates his view that there is more one way of looking at the world and that it is possible for different ideologies to exist side by side, so long as they do not interfere with one another. In his essay "Modern Africa as the Crossroads of Culture," Achebe writes that he himself combined Christianity with traditional Igbo religious beliefs as a child. He was always suspicious of zealots like Michael Obi, who were so quick to sneer at the anomalies and absurdities in the beliefs of others while failing to see the weakness or contradiction in their own.

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