In literary terms

In literary terms - of a shepherd, yet he chooses to...

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In literary terms, the crystal merchant is considered to be Santiago's  foil , a character who  demonstrates by contrast everything that another character is and isn't. For instance, Santiago  innovates and works hard to better the crystal shop's visibility and appeal, while after thirty years the  merchant has stopped trying to improve his business. In the greater scheme of things, Santiago is seeking his Personal Legend, whereas the crystal  merchant is not. Once he desired to travel to Mecca, one of the five acts required of a devout  Muslim. But even after Santiago's changes to the crystal business have brought in enough money to  make that possible, the crystal merchant does not seek Mecca. He has abandoned his Personal  Legend. By contrast, Santiago earns enough to return to the life that is most comfortable to him, that 
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Unformatted text preview: of a shepherd, yet he chooses to renounce this in his quest to reach the pyramids. The Arabic word maktub sums up the crystal merchant's philosophy: He does something because "it is written" that is, fated rather than as a result of his own hopes and desires. Unlike Santiago, he lives life passively, as one who reacts to events rather than as a shaper of them. Coelho offers readers the character of the crystal merchant as an example of how not to live, versus the active, questing ideal embodied by The Alchemist 's protagonist, Santiago. The crystal merchant is not a bad man. In fact, he's quite ordinary. But it is precisely his ordinariness that the novel warns against. He is not a villain, or even an antagonist; he is simply Santiago's foil....
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