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Free Study Guide for The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

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BOOKNOTES SUMMARY THE ALCHEMIST BY PAUL COELHO

PART ONE

Summary (continued)

**

Later that afternoon, Melchizedek, the King of Salem, sits atop the walls of the fort in Tarifa, the highest point of the city. He sees a ship plowing its way out of the port and knows that he will never again see the boy, just as he had never again seen Abraham after having charged him his one-tenth fee. That is his work: he helped the boy and now he hopes Santiago will succeed. He also wishes he had reminded the boy of his name, and despite how vain that seems, he tells God, ďAn old king sometimes has to take some pride in himself.Ē

**

Santiago is now in Africa, specifically Tangier, and thinking how strange Africa is. He thinks of all the strange people as infidels and is reminded of the image of Saint Santiago Matamoros on his white horse, his sword unsheathed, and people such as these kneeling at his feet. He is further uneasy, because he has forgotten that these people speak only Arabic, and he does not. However, he remembers how omens he had seen in nature had protected him when he was guarding his sheep and so feels somewhat better. Then, a young man in western dress, but looking Arabic, approaches him and asks Santiago in Spanish who he is.

The boy is so happy to have someone to speak to that he sits down with this stranger and tells him he needs to get to the pyramids. He asks the stranger if he will guide him there and that he has money to pay him. He even shows the man his money pouch to prove he has enough. This causes the bar owner to pull the stranger away and argue with him a bit. The stranger then tells Santiago that they need to leave. The owner tries to talk to Santiago, but the boy doesnít understand him, while the stranger tells Santiago that the owner wanted his money and that it is better to leave quickly.

The stranger, whom Santiago trusts, tells him he needs money to buy two camels and Santiago give him his money bag. Santiago is then distracted by a beautiful sword, which sits in a shop window. When he turns around, the stranger is gone and has taken all his money. Santiago naively believes the stranger will return, but at the end of the day, he is alone, a stranger in a strange country where he doesnít speak the language and without any money. His life has changed very drastically in just one day and he weeps, because God is so unfair.


He is reminded when he opens his coat that he still has the two stones the king had given him, and he decides he could sell them for enough money to return home and buy more sheep. He also understands now what the bar owner had been trying to tell him: not to trust the stranger. Like everyone else, he had seen the world in terms of what he would like to happen, not what actually does. However, the old manís advice also rolls around in his head and he takes out Urim and Thummim again and questions them like the old man had told him to do. When they fall though a hole in his pocket, he is reminded to recognize and follow the omens. Now he knows that the old man is still with him and that this isnít a strange place; itís just a new one. And he isnít a poor victim of a thief, but an adventurer in quest of his treasure.

**

He awakens the next morning in the marketplace where he had fallen asleep, and even though he hasnít a cent in his pocket, he has faith. He helps several merchants set up their stalls and realizes that like the king, he is able to sense just by observing them whether they are near or far from their Personal Legends, something he had never been able to do before. Furthermore, he realizes that even though he is speaking Spanish and they are speaking Arabic, they understand each other very well. Like his experience with his sheep, they are speaking a language that doesnít depend on words. With that ability, he can learn to understand the world. He resolves to walk through Tangier and look for the omens, because, as the king had said, all things are one.

**

A crystal merchant lives in Tangier and had sold his crystal in the same spot for thirty years. Once he had been more prosperous, but now with the growth of the city, his shop is in an out-of-the-way spot and his business has fallen off. He thinks that itís too late to change his business, because itís all he knows how to do. Then, just before lunchtime, a boy - Santiago - stops in his shop. The boy tells the merchant that heíll clean the glasses in the window in exchange for something to eat.

When the merchant hesitates, Santiago takes the initiative and cleans every glass in the window. This prompts two customers to enter and buy some crystal. The merchant is impressed by this good omen and takes the boy to lunch. Then, he asks Santiago if he would like to come to work for him, but the boy promises only to work for him the rest of that day into the next to earn money for Egypt. The merchant explains, however, that he could never pay him enough for the amount of work which would get him to Egypt. Santiagoís soul falls silent, but he agrees to work for the merchant to earn enough money to get him home again and buy more sheep.

 

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