The Zahir (Coelho) Quotes


Perhaps artists have more freedom.

Police Inspector; Chapter 1

When it’s discovered that the narrator’s wife is missing, he is arrested on suspicion as he is unable to produce an alibi. He had been seeing a woman during that time and didn’t want to make it a public fact. However, the woman comes forward in his defense. On being asked why he would cheat on his wife, he replies ‘out of boredom and tedium’. While the answer is natural to the narrator, who takes on multiple partners to spice up his life, it’s very unnatural to the policeman due to his moral stance. He comments that perhaps the artists are not bound by clutches of society and morality to be monogamous, that they can cheat on their spouse and get away with it in the name of freedom.

Slaves to luxury, to the appearance of luxury, to the appearance of the appearance of luxury.

Narrator; Chapter 1

The narrator wonders the meaning of freedom when he is released from the police custody. Is he free from the law or free from the marital union? He wonders what it means to be free. A person could be a slave even if he is not bound or kept within confines. He could be slave to his schedule, to his family, to his life and pretense of keeping that life. That person may want to get out of his circle but is unable to do so because he is afraid of making a choice that might not be accepted by society or religion or friends or family, thus keeping that person living a life that is nothing better than a cage.

… it’s better to live cherishing a dream than face the possibility that it might all come to nothing.

Narrator; Chapter 1

The narrator remarks this when he realizes that he rebelled from his family to become a writer. Everyone believed he would amount to nothing. However, the narrator begins to make more money than his whole family combined when he starts writing songs. He begins to have a luxurious lifestyle, his royalties from songs made sure he didn’t have to exert himself. He had time, means and all the necessary resources he requires to write a book. However, a dream that made him want to revolt to the society begins to scare him, and in spite of having crazy popularity and money he begins to fear failure to even try.

Lukewarm things are not pleasing to the palate

Narrator; Chapter 1

The quote appears as a part of conversation between the narrator and some unknown person, presumably Esther, about Favor Bank. The narrator explains the concept of a favor bank, stating that a person does you a favor, thus adding a favor in your account. He may keep doing so until it accumulates to a level where you can’t refuse him for a favor when his turn to credit a favor comes. Of course, you could refuse but that would spoil your reputation. That would make you a person who can’t be trusted or be done favors to. Thus, you would neither be a person who still has a potential, because you would have started to develop, but you’ll never realize your full potential due to the lack of backing of Favor Bank, making you a half-baked commodity, like a lukewarm dish which no one wants to eat.

No one should ever ask themselves that: Why am I unhappy?

Narrator; Chapter 2

The narrator wonders this when he learns that his wife was unhappy in their marriage. He remarks that no people should ask themselves why they are unhappy; such a line of questioning would lead to them finding out what makes them happy. If the thing that makes them happy is unattainable or different from what they have then, that would want them to either change what they have, which may not be always possible or easy or live with it forever which in turn would make them more sad.

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