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A Brief Summary Of Chinua Achebes Life English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2294 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Chinua Achebe - in full Albert Cinualumogu Achebe - was born at the 15. November 1930 in Ogidi in South-east Nigeria. His father was a teacher at an evangelical Christian missionary school. His parents christened him Albert from Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria. They installed in him many of the values of their traditional Jgbo Culture.

1944-47 ƒ  He attended the primary school, before he went to the Government College in Umuahia.

1948-53 ƒ  He was educated at the University College of Ibadam, where he studied English, history and theology.

1953/54 ƒ  He worked as a teacher

1954-66 ƒ  He worked for the BBC and later for the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Lagos.

1967/70 ƒ  He was the special representative of Biafra. He became engaged in the Struggle for independence of the state of Biafra.

1970/71 ƒ  He began to teach African literature at the University of Nigeria.

1972-75 ƒ  He taught at American Universities (e.g. Amherst / Massachusetts;

Storrs / Connecticut)

1976-90 ƒ  He went back to Nigeria and taught at the University Nsukka.

1990-97 ƒ  He had a terrible road accident and confiued to a wheelchair. He went back to the USA and taught at the Bard College.

1998 ƒ  He was guest lecturer at the Harvard University in Cambridge.

2002 ƒ  He got the Peace Prize from the German book trade.

Now ƒ  Chinua Achebe lives in the USA.

The story played in the era of Cross- Culture Experiences: Transition and Conflict. The white people have not learned to understand the native people. The white people took no notice of their culture, so the natives got in trouble with the white people.

In the story the natives pulled a school building down and trampled all the flowers down in relation with the barbed wire around the unused path.

2. Summary of „Dead Men's Path"

The short story "Dead Man's Path" written by Chinua Achebe, 1953, of the book "One Language many Voices" is about a man called Michael Obi and his wife Nancy who try to lead a Central school in Africa. But there (are) many problems with an old path, the "Dead Men's path", which cross the school premises. The whole story deals with the setting and the culture of the natives, the biggest subjects in story.

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Michael Obi is the headmaster of the Ndume Central School. He gets an order to reform the unprogressive school in the neighbourhood bushes, Africa, into a modern and beautiful school. His wife Nancy in infect by his passion for modern methods for a long time. They stick together and work hard to improve the school. So they are saw lots of flowers, tidy up the whole school and build a barbed wire around the path. This was a big mistake, because they take no notice of the culture of the natives, who lived in a village near the school.

This is a big mistake because they do not follow the culture of the natives, who live in a village near the school.

In this way the conflict with another important person is unavoidable. Days later the village priest, call Ani, come to school and give Obi message about the path and the culture of the natives from the village. He pleases him to take the barbed-wire away, so that the people can take the path of their ancestors, but Obi is not interest in it. The village-priest go away and some days nothing happen. One day Obi wake up and the school he have improve is only a ruin. The flowers are trample, the barbed wire around the path is destroyed and one school-building is pulled-down. This day a white man comes to inspect the school. It is a bad report for Obi and Nancy, but what happen with them?

3. Identify devices of reduction…

General information about "Short Story's"

Short stories exist for a long time.

In the fifteens century the first short stories were written and often the poor people like farmers read it. The farmers had a bad time, because they had not enough money and have to give up lots of recourses to their masters. So they read the stories to entertain themselves and to forget bad situations.

The short story "Dead men's path"

A short story is set at only one place. In the short story "Dead men's path" it is set up at the central school near the neighbourhood in Africa. No person has left the setting. There is for example the priest, who comes from a village, but his action plays only in the school. It is important, too, that a short story just contains one situation. You have no information what happened before the story has started and what happened after the end. So you can not find out what happened with Mr. Obi, Nancy and the school after the Supervisor has inspected the destroyed buildings. But in our way the story contains not only one situation, because the setting is change and so the situations of the people, too. Another point is, that the in the main characters and particularly the setting in this story described exact. The other characters, like the wives in the story, are spoken very rare, you can see at page 110 line 13 "The wives of the other teachers would envy her position." In the short story the setting plays a particular role and is so described very well, to give the reader lots of information about stranger culture and living-standards. The most important point of a short story is the message of the author. So this story will inform us in our thesis about the stranger culture and living-standards and those foreigners must accept it. They can not do all the staff they have in their head, before they talked with the natives because it is in this way not their country.

4. Describe the Setting…

In the story „Dead Men's Path" the setting change themself, from unprogressive to beauty and than into ruins.

First there was an unprogressive, untidy school in Africa, Nigeria with there less educated ones. Then a white man with a promotion to a headmaster and his wife came to school in Africa. It was the Ndume Central School and the characters called Obi and Nanny. They accepted to turn this untidy place to a place of beauty. So they built a fence around, tidied up the whole school and plant new flowers. The school compound was now a place of beauty and the garden from Nancy came with the rain to life. All the flowers blossomed. There were blossomed beautiful hibiscus and allamanda hedges in lots of different colours on the school premises. That was surrounded of the rank neighbourhood bushes. It was an almost disused path from the village across the school compound. Where the path entered and left the school premises was a fence with barbed wire. After a time the priest of the village came to school and told them the history of the old path. Mr. Obi had built a fence with barbed wire around the path, which cross the school compound. But Obi did not accept destroying the fence around the old path. So the old priest went away and some days nothing happened. After a time Obi woke up and the school was only a ruin. The hedges were torn up, the flowers were trampled and one of the school buildings pulled down. It turned into a place of horror.

The setting contributes to the atmosphere and the way of life to represent it.

The story "Dead Men's path" is coined by the setting since the setting changed three times in the progress of the history. Furthermore the fit adjectives contribute to imagine the story, the setting and the characters in the mind. So you can also say that the setting is very figurative described.

"Beautiful hibiscus and allamanda hedges in brilliant red and yellow marked out the carefully tended school compound from the rank neighbourhood bushes."

(book p.111 / l. 40-42)

5. Identify the narrator's point of view…

The story "Dead Men's path" is written in the third - person perspective.

"He was appointed headmaster of Ndume Central School in January 1949."

(book p.109 / l.2-3)

There are many reasons, why the author takes this form. The omniscient narrator knows everything. "Her little personal misfortune could not blind her to her husband's happy prospects." (book p.110 / l.23-25)

So he can describe the whole characters and know their thoughts. "She began to see herself already as the admired wife of the young headmaster, the queen of the school" (book p.110 / l.10-12)

The effect for the reader is that they can find out the thoughts from the characters, also they can see the 'future' from the characters (What they will do or react at something)

The reader has the impression that the priest destroys the school with the village people because this behaviour was a little bit angry.

6. Characterisation

Michael Obi

Mr. Obi is the main character. He is only a twenty-six old man, but looks like thirty or more. He is stoop-shouldered and trail his leg. In his present posture all his bodily strength seem to have retire behind his deep-set eyes, giving them an extraordinary power of penetration. He has married his wife two years ago. He is the headmaster of the Ndume Central School since January 1949 and his wife helps him by this connection very well. The author argues that the main character is self-centered, when he is solely concern with his own needs and wants. He sees the first piece of evidence of this self-centeredness when Michael and his wife talk about the school and the wives of the other teachers. So they work together to creating the beauty school which was before a unprogressive and untidy school. It is also explain that we see the second piece when Michael and one of his teachers are talking about the park.


Nancy is the wife from Michael Obi. She becomes completely infected by Obi's passion for modern methods and his denigration of these old and superannuated people in the teaching held who would be better employed as traders in Onitsha. So Nancy is easy to convince. Michael infected her in their two years of married life. She sees herself now as the admired wife of the young headmaster, the queen of school. She wants to set new standards because of that the other wife's of teachers envy her. Considering that Nancy feels himself better than others wife's or persons.

The Priest

The priest of the village is called Ani. He is an old man and walk with a slight instruction slood. In the story he has the instruction to inform Mr. Obi and Nancy about the old path. This path is blocked for the native people and the ghosts of the ancestors. In our opinion he has an ellect badly laugh and he is arrogante.

"'I have no more words to say', said the old priest already outside."

(book p.113 / l.39)

The role from Michael Obi

Michael Obi was very zealous, in order to reform and structure the school. He invested a lot of time and Energy in the school. Through the zeal, he do not show considering for the foreign cultures, the past and the ancestors who has used the path. So he seals the evil destiny for his school.

7. Comment on the short story's theme…

Christian R.

My thesis to the theme "Colonialism" is that is not correct to do something like this. The colonial powers exploit the mineral resources from the colonial countries. In the colonial countries the natives' culture and the natives were oppressed. The natives had to speak the language of the colonial powers. That is not correct, everybody has the right to live their culture and speak their language in their own country. In the story the white people ignore the culture from the natives, refer to destroy the school. The commerce is authorized in order to show the white people or the colonial powers what can happened when someone oppressed the culture from the natives' people.

All in all I' am against the Colonialism era and hope that something like this never come back.

The author of the story "dead men's path" used many suitable adjectives, so you can imagine the setting, the characters and the atmosphere from era of colonialism good in your mind. Although the story is short, nevertheless the author brings the message to reader how the colonial era was and how the natives feel about it. So in my opinion the author has written a good story.

Christian K.

In my opinion the short story „Dead men's path" described the alliance between the natives and the colonial powers, very well. The short story gives us much information about the culture of the natives in Africa, which is not accepted by the white men. " 'I am sorry ,' said the young headmaster. 'But the school compound cannot be a thoroughfare. It is against our regulations….'" (book p. 112-113 / l. 34-38)

This is an important part, because it tells us the bad situation and the suppression of the natives. You can see that the natives learned a lot of things from the white men, for example the language. However the white men were not interested in the habits of the natives.

So I think that the colonialism and the suppression of the natives was a dark side in the history of the humans.

I hope that this dark time never comes back.

So I come to the conclusion because of the adjectives in the story, which could give me a big view in the important situation.

Literature proof

We have only used the book and our heads! We know a lot of things about the Colonial era from the history lessons.

Dictionary: http://www.leo.org; MS Word XP Dictionary; Duden


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