Dead Man’s Path by Chinua Achebe

March 15, 2022 by Essay Writer


            The story is generally depicting the theme which is said to be modernity versus old. The old is characterized by the villagers which still continues doing their rituals and also it is characterized by the pathway (Nerdicity).

            The new or modernity is characterized and depicted by the institution and the new headmasters who aimed for renewing almost all of the old staffs at the school (Nerdicity).

            The institution, as depicted in the story as the explanation for the theme, tends the humanity of that generation to be liberated with regard to newer and or modern things (Nerdicity).

They are also trying to liberate the villagers that the villager’s old beliefs and practices are wrong which includes the practice of their belief about the pathway (Nerdicity).

Theme explanation

            The theme in the story is about Modern versus Old. It is said that Chinua Achebe came up to this theme based on how the new Nigerian thinks. The new Nigerian’s way of thinking explains their ideologies on beautifying gardens (Nerdicity).

            In this theme as explained in the story, Michael Oli wanted a development at the institution abut the problem is; the villagers are a source of hindrance to his development plan for the school.

            The theme is explaining how certain people wanted a more liberated and modernized society for a better living but still there are some who does not want to go with this modernization issue. They are contented following their old practices.

The theme also explains how extinction of old practices including tradition and cultures because of the rapid development and its being imposed to the people.

            The theme also explained that imposing new ideas to people who believes and appreciates old practices is a hard thing to do that will need your patience and understanding.

            Imposing new is better for it will benefit a lot of aspects in life but it will be better if instead of making all things new, people can combine new and old instead that will be more effective for everyone as it won’t be a source for any conflict.

            Example of new versus old is the modernity versus traditional.

            It conveys the lesson which states that traditions should not be changed into new ones and it should also be not ignored.

            The theme is said to be effective for people to realize that old beliefs are said to be influential and important so it should not be disregarded. Traditions are somehow an alternatives in teaching morals, it is said to be much more influential because there are lessons that people can learn through this (Cindy).

About the theme

            The author created the theme because he wanted people to be informed and to realize that endorsing such modernity over traditional matter in a bad approach will create a negative consequence (LLC).

            Chinua Achebe wanted to impose that when a certain person intends and tries to block a certain essential aspect of that person’s existence, the act could create or lead into a negative reaction and consequences (LLC).

This is depicted when Michael Obi blocked the path where it is part of the villager’s important ritual in respect for their ancestors whenever someone dies.

            The theme was generally made for people to see the negative impact of modernity to traditional activities.

The impact in the story depicted through the theme is explaining that in order to convince people to accept certain ideologies, the one who imposes should also possess the characteristics that others would respect (LLC).

This characteristic is important in order for other existence to accept the ideologies that a certain person imposes (LLC).

Universal truth

            Indeed, the story expresses universal truth because people can’t deny the fact that there are really some people at any part of the world that endorses betterment in certain people but does it in a negative approach.

People would be insulted through this kind of approach that provokes them to start a misunderstanding and conflict to each other.

            An example of this is when a certain person preaches something according to his views and beliefs.

If a certain person imposed his ideologies and forced people to believe by threatening their lives or their own beliefs, the act will cause into major conflicts.

            This statement is an example situation based on the theme of the story by Chinua Achebe. 

Symbols used in the story

            In the story, there are a lot of instances that symbolizes the given theme.

One of this is when Michael imposed the modernity by renewing almost all of the old professors in the school and changing them into new and younger ones (Classroom).

            Michael could have imposed his aim of modernity through adding new teachers hence still allowing the old ones to perform their teaching in the school but he did the other way.

Michael aimed to remove the villager’s right to practice their important rituals instead of respecting it (Classroom).

            Michel did not respect the rituals and beliefs of the villagers hence he also disregarded what the priest advised him.

Michael blocked the pathway to avoid the villagers from walking though it and he did it to prevent them from ruining the property (Classroom).

            By doing the certain act, Michael is said to have insulted the villager’s beliefs and ritual practice. He could have just let the villagers take that certain part and took another part to accomplish his project due to beautifying the school.

Lastly is when Michael ignored what the villagers asked of him to be able to resolve the arising conflict. The villagers asked him to do a heavy sacrifice in order to conciliate his fault from the villager’s ancestors (Classroom).

            This is implying the disrespect to someone’s beliefs. Instead of following what they asked of him, he ignored the idea and continued on imposing what he wanted.


            The school ground as the pathway, this symbolizes the tradition and beliefs of the villagers. It is explained in the story that it is a part of the villager’s ritual to take that certain path whenever someone dies.

            The blocking of the pathway; this symbolizes the unacceptance and disrespect of Michael as the main character. He disrespected the villager’s practices which they’ve done always.


            The author came up to the theme by implying his view on respecting one’s beliefs and traditions. If a certain person wants his ideologies to be accepted, he should impose it in a kind manner.

            If a certain person wants to succeed imposing his ideas, he then should also respect other’s ideologies to prevent things from leading into conflicts and negative reactions.

            The Author of the story in my opinion is aware that tradition might be forgotten because of the developments and liberations that the society imposes.

            Achebe showed through his story about his respect to certain people’s beliefs even if it is not evidently true, thus it is everyone’s right to practice their cultural and traditional beliefs as long as it wont be a reason for other people’s oppression (Cindy).

            This is what the theme implies through the story Dead Man’s Path by Chinua Achebe.

Works Cited

Cindy. “Dead Man’s Path.” 2007.

Classroom, The Global. “Dead Men’s Path

Chinua Achebe

“, 2006.

LLC, Mega Essays. “Chinua Achebe, Dead Man’s Path.” 2007.

Nerdicity. “Dead Man’s Path.” 2006.

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