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The alchemist tells the story of the poet and the soldier probably to illustrate the idea that sometimes we can influence our world's in unintended ways. On the surface, it would seem that the soldier might have been able to have a more profound impact on those around him. Powerful soldier, leader of many, outwardly respected by many. And yet, on the other hand, is his son the poet. Perhaps quieter by nature, less assuming, and not having the ability to lead by "example' with the same impact as his brother. On the surface, it would not be surprising to learn that the soldier son went on to affect the lives of others. But like so many other aspects of this powerful allegory, what the reader "sees" is not always what the reader gets. We learn that it's through the words of his poet son and NOT the actions of his soldier son that the world is impacted.
The lesson? That there are many ways to influence your world for the better and that it's through the discovery of each of our "personal legends" that we can change our lives and those around us.
The story that the alchemist tells Santiago about Emperor Tiberius and his sons appears to hold the lesson that, although a person may not have a destiny he expects or even desires, if that person acts in accordance with his own desires, he will serve a purpose greater than himself. In the story, which appears in the Bible in Matthew 8:5-8, a centurion demonstrates his faith in Jesus, acknowledging that if Jesus just speaks a word he can heal the centurion’s servant, who is paralyzed and suffering. The angel tells Tiberius that, although the centurion did not intend to be remembered for this speech, his words have become immortal. This story reiterates the notion that in living out his Personal Legend, Santiago served not only himself but also the Soul of the World. Also, just like the Narcissus story from the beginning of The Alchemist, this story takes a well-known narrative, this time a story from the Bible, and adds another dimension to it, giving it a new meaning in the context of the novel.
wat she said
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