Savage Gardens

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Savage Gardens In any society, change is never immediately embraced.. Often, people are driven into rebellion by the behavior of others. Nigerian author Chinua Achebe relates this in his short story "Dead Men's Path". The main character Michael Obi directly affects he tone and conclusion of this story through his own misguided actions and beliefs.

Michael Obi is chosen as the new Headmaster of Ndume Central School. The school is positioned among the village of Ani, a place full of ancient superstitions and beliefs. As a young and ambitious educator he is determined to bring New World ideas to t s Old World village. Quickly, he and his wife Nancy begin to transform their new school into the modern educational institution they have always dreamed about. Nancy works hard rejuvenating the once unkempt gardens around the school while Michael work to revamp the institutions teaching curriculum. His dream is for the school compound to one of the utmost beauty and to be known for its high standard of teaching.

During the complete renovation, Obi comes across a worn path through the school grounds Immediately, he closes off the path so to keep the villagers from ruining his new school yard. Soon thereafter, the village priest approaches Michael and asks him to reopen the footpath. He explains that the villagers believe the path is used by the ad to travel to and from the town. Unmoved, Obi refuses to reopen the path as his supervisors will be coming soon to see what he has accomplished.

Michael completes the renovations to his new school. It is his masterpiece. Obi is very proud of the accomplishments he has strived so hard to achieve. Confident that he is prepared for his evaluation, Michael can finally rest. The next day, he find his school is destroyed. The villagers have come to retake what has always been theirs. Michael's supervisors arrive to see what has become of the school they had entrusted to him, only to find it in utter ruin. Astonished by what they see, they writ a bad report about Michael and his unwillingness to compromise with the villagers. They take special note of the warfare which has erupted between the school and the village due to Michael's uncompromising ideals.

Michael Obi's refusal to acknowledge the villagers customs and beliefs have a profound effect on the story's tone and conclusion. First, his actions set an ironic tone. By placing his personal goals and achievements above that of the villagers beliefs nd customs, Obi has sealed not only his own fate, but that of the school he so adored. Michael's determination to bring his New World ideals to the village is what ultimately brought about it's demise. Secondly, his behavior affects the climax of the ory. Through sheer ignorance, Michael set in motion the chain of events leading to the villagers uprising. Obi's unyielding idealism not only brings about the destruction of his school but that of his career as well.

In some ancient societies, teachings and beliefs do not allow for revisions. In the story "Dead Men's Path", Michael Obi's selfish, unyielding ideals drive the villagers to rebel. Ultimately, his New World ideals destroy his life. Clearly, Michael's n misguided beliefs not only create, but directly affect the tone and conclusion of this story.