Dead Men’s Path Response Questions

4. The significance in the story’s title, “Dead Men’s Path” foreshadows the series of misfortunes that Michael Obi will endure. It also signifies the history of the generations that have lived in their village for generations. The hardships the previous generations had encountered as well as the villagers spiritual connections with where the path leads. Mr. Obi has a different connection with the path. He sees it as nothing more than a path that allows villagers to wander through his beloved school and wants to do away with the path for his own selfish reasons. The priest tells Mr. Obi “The whole life of the village depends on [the path]. Our dead relatives depart by it and our ancestors visit us by it. But most important, it is the path of children coming in to be born…” (176). This path is much more than an eyesore Mr. Obi sees it as, it’s metaphoric to the villagers.

5. The irony in this story is Mr. Obi wanted the path to be gone so he could preserve the hard work he and his wife had done to the school yard in order to impress the Government Education Officer. Unfortunately for him, closing off the path to the villagers ended in tragedy and “the beautiful hedges were torn up…the flowers trampled to death and one of the school buildings pulled down…” (177). All of that tragedy struck the night before the Government Education Officer arrived.


Setting Analysis

Brittney Bedsaul
English 102
March 6, 2015


          ​In O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)’s short story, The Gift of the Magi, the setting is crucial to the stories importance. It is the day before Christmas and the flat the Dillingham Young’s reside in is all but extraordinary. The setting portrays the lifestyle of two young people in love, struggling to have the finer things in life. Della, panicked and gift less the day before Christmas, sobs on the “shabby little couch” in her “furnished flat at $8 per week” (Henry 164). The emphasis on the fact that Della has only “one dollar and eighty-seven cents” shows the hardship the young, very in love, couple faces. Another clue that the couple is living a far from lavish style is the brief mention that “the income had shrunk to $20” (Henry 165). With the budget being tight as it is, Della will have to sacrifice something she loves for the person she loves. What would you sacrifice for the one you love?
​          Della is conflicted with what to buy her husband and how to turn $1.87 into more. She knew she wanted to get him a “platinum fob chain” (Henry 166) for the watch that ran down Jim’s family line for a few generations. Thinking about what she owns that could produce a quick and large amount of money, it dawns on her. She would have to give up her most prized possession, her hair. “Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airs haft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts” (Henry 165).
​          Jim arrives home with a very special gift for Della. He too, unknowingly to Della, had sold his most prized possession to give his wife something she had admired for so long. Della had seen these combs and Jim had known how much she wanted them, and how very unattainable they seemed, so he did the unthinkable. Jim sold his watch to get his beloved wife “the set of combs…beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims [that] her heart had simply craved and yearned over” (Henry 167).
​          The setting being around Christmas time signifies the symbolism of the magi. “The magi, as you know, were wise men” (Henry 168) and the wise men made sacrifices of their own, whatever they may be, to bring the gifts to the manger. Life and especially love is all about give and take, sacrifice. “And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house…let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest” (Henry 168).