Human Personal Experience In All The Light We Cannot See And The Alchemist

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Composers incorporate the human experience within their texts to allow the reader to question, confront and think deeply about their pre-conceived ideas. This positions the reader to produce a broader perspective on the nature of humanity, whilst also allowing them to respond to the text in a certain way. Both texts ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr and related text ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho utilise a collective and individual experience during a heightened period in their life to show the importance of humanity.

The moral consequences of nonconformity in All The Light We Cannot See illustrates the drastic effects of WW2 on individuals collectively captured in the micro to macro textual structure of the novel. The micro view of Werner and the children from the orphanage conform to societies racist beliefs through the power of propaganda ‘...the invaders pose as hook-nosed department store owners’, epitomising the way children are manipulated to believe in prejudiced views. The effects of this are evident to Werner as he sees the influence it has on other boys ‘...adolescent thugs with split knuckles and postcards of the Fuhrer’. Werner resists the temptation to join in ‘Far better, he decides, to keep one’s presence small, inconspicuous’. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho illustrates the life of a shepherd boy called Santiago that

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travels from his homeland to the pyramids of Egypt to find his ‘treasure’. This micro perspective allows the reader to view a personal journey archetype of the protagonist and the challenges he faces along the way. Through Santiago’s ‘Personal Legend’- a prominent metaphor displayed throughout the text- his spiritual calling is “what you have always wanted to accomplish’. Nonconformity and the moral consequences of this are shown through where Santiago met the Crystal Merchant ‘Well, why don’t you go to Mecca now?”. This sense of conforming to society’s expectations is shown through the merchant and how he does not want to follow his Personal Legend ‘because it’s the thought of Mecca that keeps me alive’. Santiago opposes this thought and is instead determined to follow his Personal Legend, nonconforming to his society.

The human experience of greed is explored in both texts showing the ugly side of humanity. In All The Light We Cannot See, the ‘Sea of Flames’ becomes a highly significant anomaly and shows the egocentric influence a mystical object has upon someone’s greed. Von Rumpel is characterised as a greedy man who uses manipulation to find the Sea of Flames, “We want the same thing...but only one of us can have it. And only I know where it is. Which presents a problem for you’. The Sea of Flames legend of immorality leaves a profound impact on Von Rumpel even at his death. However, although Santiago from The Alchemist shows greed as a disposition. Like Von Rumpel, he follows a different journey resulting in a different outcome. Santiago looks for his Personal Legend and is tempted throughout the text to find the ‘treasure’ and is surprised when he follows a journey of self-discovery instead. When Santiago finally reaches the Pyramids he realises that his achievement is not material “..when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”. Although these two characters start on a similar journey the outcomes for both are different which allows the reader to understand the diversity of humanity in terms of greed.

Both texts ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘All The Light We Cannot See’ show the characteristics of human qualities as vulnerable and self-guided. The power of storytelling shows an individual’s quest through their life’s journey which is reflective as a collective along the path of life. Both books connect the reader and touch them emotionally, philosophically and spiritually.

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Human Personal Experience In All The Light We Cannot See And The Alchemist. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from
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