The Alchemist (Coelho)

the alchemist

Why does the author include the merchant in the story? 

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The Crystal Merchant is meant to be a character foil to Santiago. The Crystal Merchant is a middle-aged resident of Tangier who gives Santiago a badly needed job. The crystal merchant's Personal Legend is to make a pilgrimage (or haj) to Mecca. He knows he will never fulfill his dream because he feels he would have nothing left to live for if he did go to Mecca. The shop owner fails to see the possibilities that his dream might reveal. Santiago on the other hand is willing to take the risks to pursue his dream and to experience the possibilities. Santiago hence functions as a character foil to the shop owner.