“Dead Men’s Path” Questions

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.

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Setting Analysis for “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”

The setting in “A Clean, Well Lighted Place”, by Ernest Hemingway, is more than what it appears to be. The cafe is the setting of the story in which most of the action takes place. Although it seems like a normal location, the author intends for it to be more than just a seemingly normal cafe.

The cafe is a source of comfort for those who have nothing. “I am of those who like to stay up late at the cafe… with all those who need a light for the night” (Hemingway 145). The “light” in the cafe is, according to the quote,  a beacon of hope for people who are lonely or feel depressed like the deaf old man or the older waiter. The cafe is a block used to fill in a gap in their empty lives. It is a new-found warmth in the harsh winter. It is a companion that eases everyday worries, even temporarily, and makes life a bit more bearable. It is the optimism in this bleak short story about a feeling of nothingness that is shared by two people, and many others who feel the same way about life. This includes real, not just fictional characters, who know the feeling of emptiness from their first-hand experiences.

“‘You should have killed yourself last week,’ he said to the deaf man.” (Hemingway 143). If there is anything to take away from this story, it is to have empathy to those people your are not. You do not know their experiences, and you do not know their feelings. Like the cafe in the story, one should always provide a “light” to those who need it.