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What does it mean "courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language...

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rosalinds | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted September 7, 2010 at 4:56 AM via web

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What does it mean "courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World" in Coelho's The Alchemist?

what does he mean courage is the quality most essential to understanding the language of the World?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 7, 2010 at 8:21 AM (Answer #1)

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In The Alchemist, the quote "courage is the quality most essential to understanding the Language of the World" means that in order to understand the Language of the World, one must put all else aside, and listen to the world as it speaks to him, mostly through nature.  It takes courage to let go of the control of the moment or a situation, to sit quietly, even while danger may be present, to listen.

The boy is told as he meets people on his travels that he must seek his Personal Legend: his most perfect dream. He is told to search for omens nature along the way, and that the world will conspire (help) anyone seeking to reach his Personal Legend so that he is successful.

The boy learns that he cannot achieve his Personal Legend if he cannot speak the Language of the World.  Several times the boy comes up against seemingly insurmountable obstacles: he is robbed, he is captured and threatened with death, and he loses sight of his Personal Legend, thereby losing faith in himself.

However, the world does conspire to set him again on the right path, though that path is not always easy to follow.  Others that he meets such as the old king, the camel driver, and even the alchemist know of the Language of the World and tell him he must listen to what the earth has to tell him: to the wind, sand, and all things as all are one, created by the same hand.

The courage is needed in order to let go and proceed on faith.  For example, when he goes to tell the chieftains that the oasis will be attacked, he is fearful that they won't believe him.  The Language of the World has spoken to him and he has listened--not without doubts. It takes courage to go to the chieftains who threaten his life if he is wrong.  He saves many lives in doing so, and his faith in his ability to understand the Language of the World is strengthened.

When the alchemist tells their captors that the boy can change himself into the wind or he will give up his life, the boy is fearful that he will not be able to do so.  It takes all of his courage to try, and he achieves success because he has listened to, and now uses, the Language of the World as he now understands it, with great eloquence--speaking to the wind, the sun, and even to God...as all things are connected.  Knowing the Language of the World is not enough: using it and understanding it to do the impossible, require great courage in the face of almost certain failure.

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