Literature 110- Week 2- Assignment 2

Read “Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe, as well as Chinua Achebe’s “Dead Man’sPath,” and”Love and Other Catastrophes:  A Mixed Tape by Amanda Holzer.  I chose Dead Man’s Path because the deal of the class is that we are not to consult other opinions regarding authors before writing our own opinions and I have read and analyzed much of what Poe has written throughout my years.  Also, I have an assignment to post a mixed tape for extra credit.  I will call mine “Dead Man’s Path.” 🙂

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Ah, the power of education to remove superstition.  How many of us:

Throw salt over our shoulder if we knock over the shaker?

Never open an umbrella in the house?

Believe that the reason the Red Sox never won for so long was because of the “Curse of the Babe?”

Michael Obi arrives somewhere in what I assume is Africa (since the name of the school is Ndume Central School) with the thought “. . . of what a grand opportunity we’ve got at last to show these people how a school should be run.”  Instead, what he quickly discovers is that tradition and progress clash, as the visitors to the village shrine quietly pass through school grounds in order to continue their faith.  This is a disruption to his grand theme of making this backward school a proven success, and despite the protest of the village priest, Obi blocks the path to the shrine.  He scoffs at the priest, and makes light of the priest’s beliefs by suggesting that “Dead men do not require footpaths.”

Although it appears that children do, for after the path is blocked, a young woman dies in childbirth because her child can not walk the path in order to be born.  Hence, the village takes matters into their own hands, and deconstruct the beauty and rationality that the Obis have created, allowing the path of life and death to continue unobstructed.  Despite his efforts to make his school the grandest example, it ends up being a noted disaster as the Supervisor arrives right after the villagers avenged the wrong.

Michael Obi arrived with an egotistical idea of how education would give proper life to the native children, and relieve them of the burdens of their religion and traditions.  However, as Frank Leahy once said, “Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.”  Obi, accompanied by his wife and his ego, quickly discovered that progressive ideas can only be progressive if the dead men are allowed their proper footpaths.

3 Responses to “Literature 110- Week 2- Assignment 2”

  1. I’ve only read one things by Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart) and that was in high school. I don’t remember the first things about it. I’ve been thinking I should go back and read it again, and in fact a lot of my high school books will eventually make it on my Big List.

    I am curious how you feel about short stories in general? I read a lot of essays, but literally no short stories. I am somehow resistant to them. I know this is for a class, but outside of class reading, do you read short stories?

  2. Christine Says:

    Yes and no. I read many books with short chapters because I need to be able to put them down at a moment’s notice in order to tend to the job. Science Fiction and Horror often come in novella or short story format so it is not uncommon for me to read this genre in a shorter format. However, like poetry, I find reading short stories draining because the words are so carefully chosen and so powerful, that the message sometimes feels like you are being whacked upside the head.

    What amazes me, though, is how much you remember of what you read- even as far back as high school! I guess if I put my mind to it, I could remember some of what I read (mostly the stuff I disliked), but overall, I would draw a blank. In fact, most of what they read here in the High School is material I never saw, so it is kinda fun to read high school literature all over again.

  3. I remember a lot of the titles. I rarely remember the plot. This explains how I was able to completely fall in love with Pride and Prejudice last year even though I’d already read it before.

    One of my goals this year is to read one book of short stories.

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