The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the notion of the past and present played a great part introducing and developing a theme. A character in both novels long to relive their pasts but at the same time are okay with keeping things as they are. One of The Alchemist’s themes is about achieving one’s Personal Legend; and one of A Catcher in the Rye’s themes about the pain of growing up. These characters and their stance on the past and present were catalysts for introducing these themes.
The narrator and protagonist of The Alchemist, Santiago, meets a crystal merchant after being robbed of all his money he earned from selling his sheep in Tangier. Muslims are required to feed hungry people because the Koran says so. Santiago isn’t Muslim though so he had not known until after he cleaned a bunch of the merchant’s crystal goblets. It was a win, win and soon after, Santiago began to work for the merchant.
During his time working there, the merchant showed Santiago another reason why it is so important for one to pursue their Personal Legend (if you do not understand already, personal legends are basically destinies). By this point in the novel, Santiago’s Personal Legend has already been revealed: to go to Egypt’s pyramids where he will find a great treasure. Up until this point, Santiago already understands that achieving your Personal Legends is a pretty dope idea. I mean who does not want treasure right? The crystal merchant is shown as a prime example of someone who failed to pursue his own Personal Legend. Being a very religious man, he believed his Personal Legend was to follow the five obligations of Muslim law. The fifth obligation is for every Muslim to visit the holy city of Mecca, a...


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... and nothing much happens, but that does not mean that nothing changes.
Both of the themes of these two books are similar because they were brought to light because of the past. Pain does come with growing up but we will get past it, and you should follow your dreams because if you do not you will regret it. The two characters bring these themes to light in ways that are unique from each other, almost opposites. The crystal merchant failed to realize the importance of pursuing his Personal Legend until it was already too late but Holden began to come to terms with adulthood and overcame the fear and pain that he felt throughout the novel. For The Catcher in the Rye the past is left in the past but in The Alchemist the past will always be in the back of the crystal merchant’s mind.



Works Cited

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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