4. The title “Dead Men’s Path” refers to the path used by the villagers that believed is also used by deceased relatives and ancestors, as well as those of newborn children coming into the world. It is something that is held dear to them. It is their divine beliefs that push the action in the story, and ultimately lead to Obi’s failure as a headmaster.
5. One example of irony in “Dead Men’s Path” would be how Obi rejected the good advice from Ani, the village priest. In an attempt to block villagers from their path and discourage the practice of their faith on his campus, Obi has the path fenced with sticks and barbed wire. Later, He is visited by the priest who warns, “let the hawk perch and let the eagle perch” (Achebe 176), which tells him to allow Obi’s and the village’s culture to share a common ground. Obi’s ambition and slight arrogance, however, does not allow him to take the sound advice given to him by the priest. This leads into another example of irony in the story, which is that Obi sought to create a good image of himself as a good headmaster by improving the school, but his actions resulted in the opposite. After his refusal to take down the fence and allow their cultures to coexist, the villagers vandalize and partially destroy his school in retaliation. Ironically, this happens on the day a Government Education Officer is to inspect the school for evaluation. As a result of his actions, Obi’s school, in addition to his reputation, is ruined.