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Research Essay

1424 words - 6 pages

Intro to Literature

In Chinua Achebe’s short story “Dead Men’s Path” and Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” the reader explores the lives of two individuals whose misguided actions and noble intentions cause grief amongst those around them. While Achebe’s story focuses on modernization and moving forward, Walker’s story is about holding on to the past. Through the authors’ use of conflict, character analysis, and point of view, I was able to recognize the deeper meanings in both stories. The stories do more than just entertain; they reminded us that our heritage is with us everyday and that we shouldn’t change who we are in order to impress others.
Achebe’s story is about ...view middle of the document...

The author uses many examples to show what the reader is thinking or feeling.
In Walker’s story “Everyday Use” the point of view is told in first person. We know this because Mama narrates the story. The author tells it from her point of view so the audience can get a better understanding of what she is thinking and feeling. We also know based on the textual evidence such as “I will wait for her in the yard” (Walker 455) or “Sometimes I dream a dream” (Walker 456). It’s interesting that the author doesn’t give the reader a look inside Dee or Maggie’s head. Because Mama was once young the reader can probably assume that Mama knows what her own daughters think.
Both authors provide characters which our central to the outcome of the story. In “Dead Men’s Path” the main character is most certainly Obi. The author gives a lot of background on Obi, helping us to see where he comes from and why he makes the decisions he does. The author states clearly why Obi takes the job on. “Mr. Obi put his whole life into the work… He had two aims. A high standard of teaching was insisted upon, and the school compound was to be turned into a place of beauty” (Achebe 472). Knowing that he put his life work into becoming a teacher you can see that his intentions are good. He is focused on the students and the education they receive. Through out the story Obi remains a static character. You know from his conversation with Ani, the village priest, that he is a static character. As the argument between Ani and Obi comes to a close Obi say, “Dead men do not require footpaths. The whole idea is just fantastic. Our duty is to teach your children to laugh at such ideas” (Achebe 473). From the whole story Obi never changes his mindset.
In Walkers “Everyday Use” the main character is tricky to recognize. Mama and her daughters (Maggie and Dee) seem crucial in different aspects. One could easily say Mama is the main character, as she does narrate the story. In the beginning of the story we know that Mama and Maggie looked to Dee with a jealous attitude. After the quilt ordeal Mama realizes that there is more to Maggie. She realizes that Maggie is the key to preserving their heritage. Because of this change Mama can be recognized as a dynamic character.
Achebe’s story has a great example of conflict; specifically character vs. society or Obi vs. the village people. As Obi stumbles upon the path at the school compound he strikes conversation with a teacher who had been there for three years. “It amazes me that you people allowed the villagers to make use of this footpath. It is simply incredible” (Achebe 473). The teacher responds by saying “The path appears to be very important to them. Although it is hardly used, it connects the village shrine with their place of burial” (Achebe 473). At this point the climax of the story is slowly building. It is three days later that Ani, the village priest calls on the young headmaster. “I have heard that our ancestral...

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