Character Comparison in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A strong work of literature is formed through the use of characters which constantly grow and develop throughout the work. As a novel develops, a character experiences many obstacles and achievements that affect his/her development, growth, and morals. The characters used by Harper Lee in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and Paulo Coelho in “The Alchemist” are good examples of well-developed characters that help the author form a stronger plot in the novel.

In “To Kill a Mockingbird” the characters go through many obstacles and experiences that dramatically change both the plot and the character themselves. Scout the main character in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a very different character at the end of the novel then he was in the beginning. When Scout was first introduced to the reader she was depicted as a sweet, young, and innocent girl. She was oblivious and unaware of the immoral ways blacks were treated in her own town. When Calpurnia takes Scout and Jem to the local black church Scout’s perspective on blacks changes.

Harper Lee describes the building as an ancient paint-peeled frame building near the railroad tracks. Scout, for the first time, sees first hand, how black people live. when the priest of the church asked for donations for Tom Robinson’s wife, people who had close to nothing, gave what they had to support her. She learns that although they live in poverty and have little education, they are caring and kind hearted people. In Maycomb many of the residence falsely say that black people are inferior to whites. Scout does not understand why segregation occurs and is beginning to think that all of her so called “role models” or elders are wrong about their negative opinions about blacks.

Later on in the novel scout encounters another educational obstacle. “it’s like bein a caterpillar in a cocoon” Jem says this quote to Scout in chapter 22, after Tom Robinson lost in the trial. This is when Scout realizes what the real world is like. Although all evidence pointed towards Bob Ewell, Tom Robinson was still found guilty. At this point scout really sees the true effect of racism on the world especially in Maycomb. This is a very emotional moment for Scout and she begins to cry. Scout’s personal grows is demonstrated in this scene. She begins to see the bigger picture of racism and not just what goes on in the small town of Maycomb. Scout continues to develop as a character and becomes a lot more mature and aware by the end of the novel.

The growth and development of a character is also seen in the book “The Alchemist” with the main character Santiago. At the start of the novel Santiago is a poor young shepherd who has very little and does not believe in his dreams. Although everything changes when he embarks on the search for his personal legend. Santiago begins his journey with only the money he got from selling his sheep. Santiago’s first stop was the city of Tangier. He sat at a bar and realized that he doesn’t speak Arabic and had no way to communicate with the local people. When, all of a sudden, a young man came up to Santiago and began speaking Spanish, he did not know that this man was a thief. Santiago made the mistake of trusting the man with his money and was robbed.

In this scene Santiago grows as a character by realizing that not everyone can be trusted because there are many bad people in the world. This experience helps him become more independent and careful. Santiago has another experience, in the middle of the desert, while he and the Alchemist travel to find enlightenment. When they are captured by an Arab tribe and are convicted of spying, the Alchemist tells the tribe’s chief that Santiago is the Alchemist and that in three days he will turn into the wind.

The chief replies by saying that if he has been lied to they will both be put to death. Santiago gets overwhelmed by fear and is convinced that he will die. This is a huge milestone in Santiago’s life because he finally learns to overcome fear. The Alchemist explains to him that fear is the only obstacle in the journey of your personal legend. Santiago develops and grows as a character dramatically throughout the book. Paulo Coelho does an outstanding job in connecting the reader with the character on his journey of personal growth.

As you can see, character growth is a significant part in the development of a novel. Without the development of a character a reader becomes uninterested in the character and his/her actions. The reader becomes more involved with the characters as their personality grows and matures throughout the novel.

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