Free Study Guide for The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

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The protagonist of a story is the main character who traditionally undergoes some sort of change. Santiago is the protagonist of this novel. It is his story and his maturing and learning about life that composes the plot. Through his trials and tests, we also learn about life.


The antagonist of a story is the force that provides an obstacle for the protagonist. The antagonist does not always have to be a single character or even a character at all. The antagonists in this story change at times - sometimes it is the people who give Santiago advice he doesnít want to hear; sometimes itís real villains like the thief in Tangier who steals all his money - but for the most part, the antagonist is Santiago himself. He must learn to accept the problems on his journey and not give up. He must accept himself and his own limitations as well as his strengths to persevere and find his treasure. Like many protagonists, he is often his own worst enemy, but in the end, he overcomes adversity and triumphs.


The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. The climax comes when Santiago comes to the pyramids, digs on the spot where he sees the scarab beetle, and yet is rewarded by being beaten by some Arabs who want his treasure. It is only at the point that he realizes where his treasure actually is.


Santiago realizes he must return to Spain after the leader of the Arab refugees who beat him tells him his recurring dream about a ruined church with a sycamore tree growing out of its sacristy. He knows the church, because that is where he had his dream about the pyramids. He returns there and finds a conquistadorís buried treasure under the sycamore tree and determines to take it and go back to the oasis and marry Fatima.


A young shepherd boy named Santiago has a recurring dream about a child leading him to the Pyramids of Egypt. After a Gypsy woman tells him he must go, he meets an old king who also teaches him about omens and following them on a path to his dream. He buys a ticket to Tangier, but is robbed of all his money when he gets there. He is forced to work for a crystal merchant for a year to earn enough money to go home, but over the course of the year, and by realizing the merchantís regret that he didnít follow his own dream, Santiago decides to continue on. He joins a caravan to the Al-Fayoum oasis as itís on the way to the pyramids. With the caravan, he meets the Englishman, and on the oasis, he meets Fatima and the alchemist, and they all teach him valuable lessons about following his dream. Eventually, after many trials and tests, he sees the glory of God and finds the pyramids. Then, he realizes that his treasure has been back in his homeland all along. He finds it and determines to return to Fatima and the love that awaits him.


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The Alchemist by Paul Coelho Free BookNotes Summary

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