Free Study Guide for The Alchemist by Paul Coelho|
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CHAPTER SUMMARY / NOTES FOR THE ALCHEMIST BY PAUL COELHO
Santiago muses that he is able to live out his dream every day and if he tires
of it, he can always sell his sheep and go to sea where he would come
to other cities and lands to explore. Now, the dream concerns the merchant’s
daughter and he hurries his pace to Tarifa, the next village. He also
remembers that, in Tarifa, there is an old woman who interprets dreams.
When the boy enters the house of the old woman, he is somewhat uneasy, because she prays and acts like a Gypsy and gypsies are thieves. However, she has a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus behind her so he comforts himself with that thought. The old woman tells him that dreams are the language of God, so Santiago tells her that twice he had dreamed that he was in his fields with his sheep when a child appeared and took his hands and transported him to the pyramids of Egypt. At the pyramids, the child had told him that if he came there, he would find a hidden treasure. Every time the child was about to tell him the location of the treasure, he would wake up. The old woman thinks for a bit and then tells him she won’t charge him anything that day, but that he must promise to give her one-tenth of the treasure if he finds it. He swears that he will and she tells him that it’s a dream about the language of the world and is very difficult to interpret. However, he must go to the pyramids, because if a child had shown them to him, they exist and he must find them to become a very rich man. Santiago is a little irritated, because he could have figured that out on his own. He leaves, deciding that he’ll never believe in dreams again. He goes to the marketplace for something to eat and to trade his book. There, he sits on a bench in the plaza watching people and maybe making new friends. He likes life this way, because, even though he wants to meet new people, he doesn’t want to become a part of their lives. That’s when they try to change you.
While he is reading, an old man sits down and strikes up a conversation. Santiago doesn’t want to talk to the man, preferring to read or think about the merchant’s daughter. However, the man persists, and because he had been taught to be respectful to the elderly, he doesn’t get up or refuse to speak. The old man picks up the boy’s book and tells him that it is a good book, but one that is really irritating, because it tells the same thing that almost all other books in the world describe: how people are unable to choose their own Personal Legend. It also ends up saying the world’s greatest lie - “at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”
Eventually, the old man tells Santiago that he is the King of Salem and that his name is Melchizedek. In spite of the boy’s surprise at that pronouncement, the old man just wants to know how many sheep he has. When the boy says he has enough, the old man responds that he can’t help him if he already has enough sheep. Santiago makes a move as if to find another bench when the man tells him that if he gives him one-tenth of his sheep, he’ll tell him how to find the treasure. Santiago fears that this man is the old Gypsy woman’s husband and that he’s trying to get more information out of him. However, before he can say anything to him, the old man bends over to write in the sand and reveals something so bright on his chest that it almost blinds Santiago. Then, when he can see again, there in the sand are the names of his mother, his father, the seminary he had attended, and even the name of the merchant’s daughter. There are even things there he had never told anyone.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Alchemist".
. 10 May 2008