Applyiing How to Read Literature to the Alchemist

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Kiley Dempsey
Ms. Jones
Honors Tenth Grade Literature Composition
04 September 2012
Santiago's Journey
How to Read Literature like a Professor, by Thomas C. Foster, is like painting a picture; with painting the first step is to paint inside the lines, but an advanced artist understands that a picture is made up of not just color, texture, and shapes, but also considers the purpose behind each stroke. Foster brings a different meaning to reading a book and draws attention to the author and his or her intention. While applying Fosters teaching's to Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, the main character, Santiago's journey becomes more than a journey- it turns into a quest. Simple drinks and foods turn symbolic into acts of communion and while weather is often overlooked, it becomes a key element. Santiago has a reoccurring dream of him going to a field and from there being brought to the Egyptian pyramids. When he meets the King of Salem, Melchizedek, Santiago tells him about his dream and the King tells him that going to the pyramids is his Personal Legend. The King also says to Santiago, “To realize one's destiny is a person's only real obligation” (Coelho 22). To follow his Personal Legend, Santiago must give in order to receive. He must give one sixth of this sheep to the gypsy and also one sixth to the King. Once he has given that, he must sell the rest of his flock to obtain enough money to get to Egypt. Foster says that “The real reason for a quest never involves the stated reason” (3) and for this Santiago is not aware that going to Egypt is an actual quest. The King comes to help Santiago realize where he is to go, “You are trying to realize your Personal Legend, and you are at a point where you are about to give it all up” (Coelho 23). Typically when something in life does not go your way, we give up and do not want to continue trying. Santiago starts to feel the urge to give up early on, however he begins to work hard to overcome these...
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