In the short story “Dean Man’s Path,” Chinua Achebe tells a story of an egotistical and uncompromising headmaster named Michael Obi. Michael believes he is a very educated man. He attempts to transform a school into his vision of perfection, even if it means trampling on the traditions and beliefs of the local villagers. He foolishly thinks that his way of doing things is the only correct way.
Michael has a huge ego as he believes what he knows is superior to headmasters before him. He is so uncompromising in his views that even his wife, Nancy, blindly follows her husband in using “modern methods” for the solutions of all problems. He is over-anxious to prove what he can do, more than he cares for the welfare of the people in the school.
Michael envisioned a school where on of the primary goals was to make the school appear to be beautiful on the outside.
It was hard to say if Michael was more upset about a few trampled hedges or the appearance of an elderly woman from the village. The school is repeatedly referred to as Michael’s work as if the school was going to be his perfect masterpiece.
Michael doesn’t have any respect for tradition and the past. When he speaks to the local village priest, he doesn’t care what the villagers’ traditions or beliefs relating to the path are. He goes so far as telling them to change their beliefs since he intends to eradicate those thoughts from the children any ways. He will not compromise or even consider an alternative way of doing things.
In the end, Michael probably never learns a lesson. One would assume that Michael sees the collapse of the school and the start of the tribal war as the fault of the villagers. Even being chastised by his supervisors will do nothing to change his views. There is no doubt he will say his supervisors are wrong and still believe in the old ways of doing things. One sees what pride and ego can do to the most educated of people.