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“Tent of Miracles”: A Commentary on Materialism

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  1. Introduction
  2. Pedro Archanjo
  3. Tent of Miracles
  4. A commentary on Materialism
  5. Analysis
  6. Conclusion

We've heard it a thousand times: money does not buy happiness. But what does this timeless phrase mean? It suggests that one can have all the riches in the world and still be unhappy. We all know someone or other who is notoriously wealthy, yet miserable. Those who have been raised in a lower- to middle-class American family might find this hard to believe. How can someone be miserable when they have a cell phone, iPod, personal computer, home entertainment center, swimming pool, home Espresso maker, cars, clothes, and a fabulous house? Yet, no matter how many material items one might acquire, he can still lead a joyless existence. But this also works the other way around. One does not need to have a lot of money (or any, for that matter!) to be entirely content and happy in life. This is proven in Jorge Amado's classic novel ?Tent of Miracles,? published in 1971.

This is the story of Pedro Archanjo, bohemian, mestizo, ethnologist, and legend in Bahia culture. The character of Pedro Archanjo represents the potential of all human beings to live simply and to take pleasure in the small things in life. In our modern world, obsessed with materialism and corrupted by greed, the life (and death) of Pedro Archanjo serves as proof that even those living in poverty can be happy.

[...] ?Tent of Miracles?: A Commentary on Materialism We've heard it a thousand times: money does not buy happiness. But what does this timeless phrase mean? It suggests that one can have all the riches in the world and still be unhappy. We all know someone or other who is notoriously wealthy, yet miserable. Those who have been raised in a lower- to middle-class American family might find this hard to believe. How can someone be miserable when they have a cell phone, iPod, personal computer, home entertainment center, swimming pool, home Espresso maker, cars, clothes, and a fabulous house? [...]


[...] Archanjo, however, makes the conscious decision that he will not wallow in his current situation, but rather accept it. In doing so, he is refusing to allow his lack of money to affect his genuine good nature. The narrator remarks that even after his death Archanjo appears content: ?Seeing him so smiling and so contented no one could have imagined the [ ] infinite poverty of the last years of his life? (34). It is a truly happy person who can smile even in death. [...]

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