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Written by Ruchika Thukral, Rejoice Daimari
Pilgrimage is one of the central themes in the book. The narrator feels an existential crisis and on the advice of his mentor decides to perform a journey over three weeks in different countries. For him, this is a pilgrimage to reach the Aleph, the moment he has been looking for while becoming more sceptic about the nature of his journey. This is also a commonly explored theme in his previous books. The journey from one place to another is commonly used as a metaphor to suggest the changes that take place in a person over time.
The major conflict in the story is the narrator’s existential crisis. He is not peace with himself anymore and yearns to become the ‘king of his kingdom’ again. The same is not expressed by other characters but all of them are conflicted and yearn to achieve peace within. Yao is still grieving over the death of his wife, Hilal is still traumatized from her sexual abuse. They all are looking for a newer purpose to love.
Like previous works by Paulo Coelho, Aleph focuses on spirituality and the need of a human being to be at peace with his existence. He constantly experiences tension and struggles with his stardom and existential crisis. Through his journey, he tries to get in touch with his lost side, which he refers to as being the ‘king of my kingdoms’ threatened by waves of frustration and discontentment. He reiterates that life is not a station but to be lived as a journey and it does not matter where the journey ends. Therefore, one should enjoy their spiritual journey wherever it may lead. Thus, the book subtly asks the readers to undertake their own spiritual journeys against the monotony of mundane routine and gain a new spiritual perspective to life.
Stories are often explored and used as a means by people to make their points. Coelho keeps using stories as huge metaphors for his rationalities. For him, it is easier to make his audience understand his feelings by telling them of a different instance which can be related to his feelings. In particular, the stories from scriptures are often used to do so.
The narrator seeks forgiveness form Hilal on learning that he was responsible for her death in his last incarnation. Hilal realizes that her anger and instability comes from the stress she has accumulated over the years due to her sexual abuse. She realizes that she is much at peace after forgiving the world for the pain that it has caused her.
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