The Alchemist - Background Notes Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in The Alchemist - Background Notes Deck (147):
1

The Alchemist (Portuguese: O Alquimista) is a novel by

Paulo Coelho first published in the year 1988. Originally written in Portuguese by its Brazilian-born author, it has been translated into at least 56 languages as of September 2012

2

An allegorical novel, The Alchemist follows a young Andalusian shepherd named

Santiago in his journey to Egypt, after having a recurring dream of finding treasure there.

3

What is allegorical

As a literary device, an allegory in its most general sense is an extended metaphor.

4

Santiago, believing a recurring dream to be prophetic, decides to travel to a Romani in a nearby town to discover its meaning. A gypsy woman tells him that there is a treasure in

the Pyramids in Egypt.

5

Early into his journey, he meets an old king, named ....

Early into his journey, he meets an old king, Melchizedek, who tells him to sell his sheep to travel to Egypt and introduces the idea of a Personal Legend (which is always capitalized in the book). Your Personal Legend "is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is".[3] He adds that "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it". ***********This is the core theme of the book.************

6

Along the way, he meets an Englishman and continues his travel with him. They traveled through The Sahara desert and during his journey, he meets a beautiful Arabian woman named

Fatima, whom he falls in love with. He then asked Fatima to marry him, but she says she will only marry him after he finds his treasures. He is perplexed by this, but later learns that true love will not stop one's Personal Legend, and if it does, it is not true love.

7

Santiago then encounters a lone alchemist who also teaches him about Personal Legends. He says that people want to find only the treasure of their Personal Legends but not

but not the Personal Legend itself. Santiago feels unsure about himself as he listens to the alchemist's teachings. The alchemist states: "Those who don't understand their Personal Legends will fail to comprehend its teachings". It is also stated that treasure is more worthy than gold.

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the protagonist of The Alchemist. Born in a small town in Andalusia, he attends the seminary as a boy but longs to travel the world. He finally gets the courage to ask his father for the permission to become a shepherd so that he can travel the fields of Andalusia.

santiago

9

One night, in an abandoned church, he dreams of a child telling him that if he goes to the Egyptian Pyramids, he will find a treasure. Later, he met a mysterious man in the town of Tarifa, who sends him on a journey to the other side of Africa.

in the town of Tarifa, who sends him on a journey to the other side of Africa.

10

why is Santiago reticent to get involved in things which threaten his freedom?

Santiago is a curious boy whose open mind makes him particularly suited to find his Personal Legend. He also values his freedom very highly, which is why he became a shepherd and why he is reticent to get involved in things which threaten his freedom. In the end, he realizes that playing it safe is often more threatening to his freedom than taking a risk.

11

Names of magical stones?

Melchizedek is the king of Salem, a mysterious, far-off land. Melchizedek appears to Santiago in the town square of Tarifa, where he tells Santiago about the Soul of the World and his Personal Legend for the first time. Melchizedek always appears to people who are trying to live their Personal Legend, even if they don't know it. While he appears at first to be dressed in common Arab dress, at one point he pulls aside his cloak to reveal a gold breastplate encrusted with precious stones. He also gives Santiago the magical stones Urim and Thummim.

12

the shopkeeper is afraid to take

RISKS....
Gives Santiago a job in Tangiers after he has been robbed. Santiago takes the job at the crystal shop and learns much about the shopkeeper's attitude toward life and the importance of dreaming. The shopkeeper, while generally afraid to take risks, is a very kind man and understands Santiago's quest — sometimes more than Santiago himself. This is the case when the shopkeeper tells Santiago that he will not return to Spain, since it is not his fate.

13

Where does Santiago travel with the Englishman?

They travel across the Sahara after they meet on the caravan to al-Fayoum. The Englishman is trying to become a great alchemist and is traveling to al-Fayoum to study with a famous alchemist who is rumored to be over 200 years old and to have the ability to turn any metal into gold. Santiago learns much about alchemy from the Englishman, who lends Santiago his books while they travel across the Sahara.

14

The alchemist who lives at the al-Fayoum oasis in Egypt has two important things in his possession:

, Santiago heard about him through the Englishman, but eventually Santiago is revealed to be the Alchemist's true disciple. The Alchemist dresses in all black and uses a falcon to hunt for game. The Alchemist is also in possession of the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone.

15

A very important but short piece in the writing involves the monk...what happens with him?

Santiago and the alchemist stop at the monastery, and the monk invites them in. This is considered a very important point in the plot, as this is where the alchemist produces gold from a pan of lead (which the monk provides), separates the disk into four parts, gives one to the monk, one to himself, and essentially two to Santiago. The monk tries to refuse the offering, but the alchemist tells him that "life may be listening, and give [you] less the next time". Afterward, when Santiago crawls back beaten and elated from the Pyramids, the monk gives him the other part of the gold disk and helps him recover.

16

The book's main theme is about finding ...

one's destiny.An old king tells Santiago, "when you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true". This is the core of the novel's philosophy and a motif that plays all throughout Coelho's writing in The Alchemist.

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1. What does Santiago notice in the sacristy of the abandoned church that he takes shelter in on the way to the merchant?
(A) A burning bush
(B) Several lost sheep
(C) A sycamore tree
(D) A huge wooden cross

Sycamore

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2. What did Santiago’s parents originally hope he would be when he grew up?
(A) A lawyer
(B) A shepherd
(C) A merchant
(D) A priest

Priest

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3. In the recurring dream Santiago has at the abandoned Church, who encourages him to seek treasure at the pyramids?
(A) His mother
(B) A sheep
(C) A child
(D) The Merchant’s daughter

Child

20

4. What comforts Santiago when he is visiting the gypsy dream intepreter?
(A) An image of Jesus
(B) A large cross
(C) A group of teenagers in the waiting room
(D) Urim and Thummim

an image of Jesus

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5. What does Melchizedek ask Santiago for in return for directing him toward his personal legend?
(A) One tenth of his flock
(B) His cloak
(C) The rest of his gold
(D) The gypsy’s phone number

1/10th of his flock

22

How does the alchemist claim to know that Santiago would be coming?
He dreamed it.
He heard rumors.
He read tea leaves.
The wind told him.

The wind told him

23

What does the name "Melchizedek" mean in Hebrew?
Follow the treasure
Glory from action
King of subjection
Righteous is my king

Righteous is my King

24

What is the crystal merchant's dream?
To be a shepherd
To design a bauble for a king
To see the pyramids
To visit Mecca

Mecca

25

What is the motto of the crystal merchant?
Dreams lead you.
It is written.
Only god knows.
We're all doomed.

It is written

26

What language did the Englishman study prior traveling to Africa?
Esperanto
Latin
Spanish
Tangier

Esperanto

27

What primary lesson does Santiago learn from the king of Salem?
Cheese makes everything taste better.
Don't expect much.
Move forward when luck seems to be on your side.
The Fates control life; but they can be bribed.

Move forward when luck seems to be on your side.

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What were the main goals of "alchemy" during Santiago's time?
A and C
To change lead and other cheap metal into gold
To discover an elixir of perpetual youth
To have hallucinogenic dreams and a more intense sex life

A&C

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Which of the following animals is NOT an important symbol in The Alchemist?
Cobra
Hawk
Horse
Wild cat

Wild cat

30

Which of the following did Santiago NOT study before becoming a shepherd?
anatomy
Latin
Spanish
theology

anatomy

31

While crossing the desert, what is Santiago surprised to see when the sun rises?
A belly dancer
A caravan of camels
A mirage
An oasis

an oasis

32

Who says the following: "No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it."
The alchemist
The camel herder
The Englishman
The old woman

the alchemist

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Who says the following: "It was shepherds who were the first to recognize a king that the rest of the world refused to acknowledge."
The camel herder
The crystal merchant
The Englishman
The king of Salem

the Englishman

34

Who says the following: ". . . when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe."
The alchemist
The Englishman
The king of Salem
The old woman

king of salem

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6. Who does Melchizedek point out to Santiago as someone who did not follow their Personal Legend?
(A) A butcher
(B) A baker
(C) A candlestick maker
(D) The dream interpreter

baker

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7. What does the book that Santiago buys in Tarifa describe in its opening pages?
(A) A burial ceremony
(B) A desert journey
(C) A fierce battle
(D) A hidden treasure

burial

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. As Santiago sets off to Africa, Melchizedek recalls guiding who else to his personal legend?
(A) The alchemist
(B) Jesus
(C) Paulo Coelho
(D) Abraham

Abraham

38

9. What distracts Santiago and allows the young man in Tarifa to steal his money?
(A) A beautiful Arab girl
(B) A king adorned with robes
(C) A scabbard embossed in silver
(D) A stand selling exotic fruits

scabbard (not scarab know the difference)

39

0. What kind of vendor does Santiago admire the morning after he is robbed by the young man in Tarifa?
(A) A fruit vendor
(B) A weapons smith
(C) A bookseller
(D) A candy seller

candy

40

11. What does Santiago suggest to the crystal merchant as a strategy to make more money?
(A) Sell tea in crystal glasses
(B) Discount crystal on weekends
(C) Open a stall in the marketplace
(D) Export crystal to Spain

tea in crystal

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12. According to the Englishmen, what is the name of the discovery that is the result of refining metal until all that is left is the Soul of the World?
(A) The Universal Legend
(B) The Master Work
(C) The Voice of the Wind
(D) The Hand of God

The Master Work

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13. What is the product of alchemy that can turn lead into gold?
(A) The Master Work
(B) The Alchemist’s Furnace
(C) The Philosophers Stone
(D) The Elixir of Gold

Philosophers Stone

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14. What is the product of alchemy that can cure all illnesses?
(A) The Master Work
(B) The Philosopher’s Stone
(C) The Soul of the World
(D) The Elixir of Life

Elixir of Life

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15. Upon what item is the core secret of alchemy written?
(A) The Holy Grail
(B) The Emerald Tablet
(C) The Book of Kings
(D) The One Ring

Emerald

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16. What surprises Santiago about the Al-Fayoum oasis?
(A) It is larger than towns in Spain
(B) Residents dress entirely in black
(C) All residents speak fluent Spanish
(D) Strange animals roam the streets

larger than most towns in Spain

46

17. Where does Santiago meet Fatima?
(A) Inside the chieftain’s tent
(B) Next to a well
(C) Crying in the desert
(D) In a stable

well

47

18. What is the portentous omen that Santiago sees in the Al-Fayoum oasis?
(A) A pair of hawks fighting
(B) A dying scarab
(C) A fast-moving black cloud
(D) A fierce and sudden windstorm

hawks fighting

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19. How does the tribal chieftain punish the chief of the invading army?
(A) Tarring and feathering
(B) Death by beheading
(C) Death by hanging
(D) Banishment from the desert

hanging

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20. What job does the Al-Fayoum tribal chieftain offer Santiago to reward him for warning of invading armies?
(A) Army General
(B) Counselor of the Oasis
(C) Templar Commander
(D) Diplomat to Europ

Counselor of Oasis

50

21. What danger do Santiago and the alchemist come across in their first foray into the desert?
(A) A drunken soldier
(B) A tempting mirage
(C) A poisonous cobra
(D) A thieving Bedoui

FIRST - Cobra

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22. Which part of nature didn’t Santiago speak to when he was trying to turn himself into the wind?
(A) The Sun
(B) The Wind
(C) The Desert
(D) The Trees

trees

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23. What do the alchemist and the monk talk about while the alchemist is transforming the lead?
(A) The loneliness of the desert
(B) The tenants of Coptic faith
(C) The persistent tribal wars
(D) Their favorite African celebrities

tribal wars

53

24. Why does Santiago choose to dig in the dune by the pyramids?
(A) The wind tells him too
(B) He has a vision in a dream
(C) He sees a scarab there
(D) There’s an “X” on the ground

scarab (was there an X at a different part, if so when)

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25. What is the treasure that Santiago finds under the sycamore tree?
(A) A chest of gold and jewels
(B) A letter from his parents
(C) The Philosophers Stone
(D) A diamond encrusted chalice

gold and jewels

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1. “…whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth."

This statement, which Melchizedek says to Santiago upon their first meeting, forms the foundation of the philosophy of The Alchemist. Essentially, Melchizedek says that dreams are not silly or selfish desires that should be ignored. Instead, they serve as the primary means by which people can get in touch with the mystical force that connects everything in the universe. He convinces Santiago that his nagging desire to visit the pyramids is actually a calling, and he sets Santiago on his journey of spiritual discovery

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2. “…every blessing ignored becomes a curse. I don't want anything else in life. But you are forcing me to look at wealth and at horizons that I have never known. Now that I have seen them, and now that I see how immense my possibilities are, I'm going to feel worse than I did before you arrived. Because I know the things I should be able to accomplish, and I don't want to do so.”

The crystal merchant says these words to Santiago as Santiago prepares to leave Tangier after an extremely successful year working at the crystal shop. The crystal merchant expresses a regret common among several ancillary characters in The Alchemist, such as the baker and Santiago’s father. He knows that he has not achieved all he can in life and feels depressed as a result. The crystal merchant serves as a warning to Santiago that those who ignore their Personal Legends in favor of settling into material comforts always feel haunted by their untapped potential.

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3. “We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions or our property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”

Here, the camel driver addresses fear while he tells Santiago his life story during the trip to Al-Fayoum. Fear acts as the biggest impediment to achieving one’s Personal Legend. Santiago faces many obstacles during his journey, but he regularly feels tempted to abandon his quest when he fears losing what he has already earned. For example, Santiago initially balks at giving up his flock of sheep to Melchizedek. In Tangier, Santiago fears losing the money he earned with the crystal merchant. In the oasis, Santiago fears losing Fatima. Finally, after being captured, Santiago fears he will never be able to turn into the wind. The irony of this fear stems from the fact that Santiago earns ever greater rewards each time he abandons his fear and gives up his previous possessions.

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4. “The alchemists spent years in their laboratories, observing the fire that purified the metals. They spent so much time close to the fire that gradually they gave up the vanities of the world. They discovered that the purification of the metals had led to a purification of themselves.”

The Englishman relates this history to Santiago as Santiago reads a book on alchemy. The quotation summarizes the key insight that connects the practice of transforming metals through alchemy with the idea of human beings attaining spiritual perfection by pursuing their Personal Legends. Just as alchemists purify lead, removing its impurities to transform it into gold, a person can purify himself by focusing completely on living out his Personal Legend. This process strips the person of impurities, transforming him as the lead is transformed

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5. “What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’
“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”

The alchemist says these last words to Santiago before the two part ways at the end of the novel. In short, the alchemist explains to Santiago why he had to endure so many trials if the universe, as the alchemist and others have said, does actually want him to fulfill his Personal Legend. Santiago, for instance, may have began his journey with “beginner’s luck,” although only to a limited degree as he was immediately robbed and left penniless in Tangier, but as his quest went on he faced progressively more difficult challenges. When he must turn himself into the wind, Santiago seems as if he has to trick the elements into helping him. But as the alchemist explains, these challenges served their own purpose: to help Santiago master the lessons he had already learned.

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An adventurous young Andalusian shepherd determined to fulfill his Personal Legend, which is to find a treasure at the foot of the Egyptian pyramids. He is the book's protagonist.

Santiago

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A 200-year-old, extremely powerful alchemist residing in the Al-Fayoum Oasis. He dresses in black, rides a white horse, and carries a scimitar, the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Elixir of Life. He often speaks cryptically, but he understands the Soul of the World and the importance of Personal Legends.

The alchemist

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A struggling merchant who owns a crystal shop on top of a desolate hill. His shop was once popular but lost much of its business as Tangier lost its status as Egypt’s premiere port town. He is a good-hearted, devout Muslim, but has a crippling fear of change.

Crystal Merchant

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A well-educated science student determined to learn the secrets of alchemy by learning from a true alchemist. He is a skeptic and loves reading his books.

Englishman

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The King of Salem. He appears to possess magical powers and helps those pursuing their Personal Legends.

Melchizedek

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A beautiful and chaste young "desert woman" who lives at the Al-Fayoum Oasis. She understands that she must allow Santiago to travel in pursuit of his dream.

Fatima

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An old women living in Tarifa who interprets dreams. She reads palms and uses black-magic iconography, but she also keeps images of Christ.

Gypsy

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- A friendly former orchard owner and devout Muslim who feels content with his life despite losing his orchard in a flood. He has made the pilgrimage to Mecca and lives his life in service of omens from God.

Camel driver

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A strict and ruthless tribal chieftain who lives in luxury. He enforces Al-Fayoum's status as a neutral ground and believes in dreams and omens.

The Tribal Chieftain of Al-Fayoum

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The beautiful and intelligent raven-haired daughter of the merchant who buys wool from Santiago.

Merchant's daughter

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A kindly, unadventurous family man who hoped Santiago would become a priest but gives him his blessing to become a shepherd.

santiago's father

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a shepherd boy from a small Andalusian town, is the protagonist of The Alchemist. He is determined, headstrong, and curious to learn all he can about the world. As a result, he resisted his parent’s desires that he become a priest and chose instead to work as a shepherd so that he would have the opportunity to travel throughout the country. Despite his natural adventurousness, remains conservative and self-satisfied in many ways until he dreams of uncovering a treasure hidden near the pyramids in Egypt.

Santiago

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Supposedly 200 years old, a mysterious character and an extremely powerful practitioner of alchemy who resides at the Al-Fayoum oasis. Many in Al-Fayoum do not know of his existence, and even the tribal chieftains must request an audience if they wish to see him. He has among his possessions the Master Work, considered the ultimate goal of alchemy, which consists of the Philosopher’s Stone, capable of turning any metal into gold, and the Elixir of Life, able to cure all ills. In addition, he appears to possess magical powers. The alchemist mainly functions as a teacher to Santiago, though he often speaks in riddles and expects Santiago to learn more through experience than through verbal instruction.

The alchemist

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serves as an important friend to Santiago during Santiago’s time in Tangier, but he also functions as a cautionary case of someone who has become complacent and given up the pursuit of his Personal Legend.

The crystal merchant

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Melchizedek, who claims to be the King of Salem, appears to Santiago as an old man living in the Spanish town of Tarifa, and although he appears only briefly in the book, he plays an important role as he introduces several of the key concepts that we see repeated throughout The Alchemist. For example, he tells Santiago about Personal Legends, the Soul of the World, and Beginner’s Luck. He also gives Santiago two magical stones, Urim and Thummim, which represent “yes” and “no” respectively, to help guide him on his journey. also the first character in The Alchemist to display magical powers. Those powers help him convince Santiago to pursue his dream of finding a treasure near the pyramids in Egypt.

Melchizedek, who claims to be the King of Salem,

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is a well-educated and ambitious aspiring alchemist. He is adventurous enough to join a caravan in search of the alchemist, but is rather anti-social. He prefers to read his large collection of books rather than interact with others or take interest in his surroundings

The Englishman is a well-educated and ambitious aspiring alchemist. He is adventurous enough to join a caravan in search of the alchemist, but is rather anti-social. He prefers to read his large collection of books rather than interact with others or take interest in his surroundings

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NARRATOR ·

NARRATOR · The narrator is an anonymous omniscient observer. The narrator speaks in a simple tone and knows the thoughts and feelings of every character in the book.

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POINT OF VIEW ·

POINT OF VIEW · The point of view is third person omniscient, though the narrator focuses on Santiago’s journey. Occasionally, the narration will step back from Santiago and focus on an ancillary character, but it always returns to its protagonist. Notably, the narrator stops referring to Santiago after the first third of the book. Though the point of view comments on some of the characters’ innermost thoughts and desires, it is a mostly objective observer.

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TONE · The Alchemist reads like an ancient

myth or fable. It is simple, direct, and overtly didactic. (intended tot teach) It also has elements of a picaresque, (episodic fiction) an episodic tale detailing a hero’s adventures during his quest.

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TENSE · The story is told in

the past tense.

80

SETTING (TIME) · The Alchemist is set in

an indistinct time in the past. It is clearly a pre-modern time, before automobiles and most modern technology existed.

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SETTING (PLACE) · The main plot of the alchemist takes place in

in the Spanish pastures, the Spanish town of Tarifa, the city of Tangier in North Africa, and the Sahara desert.

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PROTAGONIST · The novel’s protagonist is

Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd.

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MAJOR CONFLICT · The major conflict of the book is Santiago’s

personal tension between completing his Personal Legend to travel all the way to Egypt to find a treasure at the pyramids and settling along the way for the treasures he has already earned.

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RISING ACTION · Santiago makes a series of material sacrifices in order to

pursue his Personal Legend to reach the pyramids of Egypt

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CLIMAX · Santiago struggles to

turn himself into the wind while being held by warring tribesman in the Sahara Desert.

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FALLING ACTION · Santiago arrives at the pyramids, but in a twist, he must

go back to Spain as he learns that his treasure was buried in an abandoned church by a sycamore tree where he started his journey.

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THEMES ·

THEMES · The Centrality of Personal Legends; The Unity of Nature; The Danger of Fear

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MOTIFS ·

MOTIFS · Dreams; Maktub; Omens

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SYMBOLS ·

SYMBOLS · Santiago’s Sheep; Alchemy; The Desert

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FORESHADOWING ·

FORESHADOWING · One piece of foreshadowing occurs when Santiago has initial dream of the pyramids under the sycamore tree. Later, we learn that the treasure he saw in his dream is buried under that very tree.

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1. How does the story of Narcissus relate to the broader message of The Alchemist?

Like the introductory Narcissus story, The Alchemist itself has a message that focusing on oneself can connect a person to nature and the spiritual world. Only through single-mindedly pursuing his own Personal Legend does Santiago learn the secrets of the Soul of the World, for instance. Throughout the book, Santiago must put his own interests first repeatedly, as when he chooses to be a shepherd rather than a priest and when he leaves the oasis to continue on his journey. But through disregarding everything but his own dream, Santiago realizes his true potential. In this way, he penetrates to the Soul of the World.

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2. What attitude does The Alchemist take toward romantic love?

Unlike many popular literary tales, The Alchemist initially presents love not as a goal, but as an obstacle. Santiago says his initial love of the merchant’s daughter acts as the only thing that makes him want to stay in one place forever. This desire stands in direct opposition to the journey he must complete in order to fulfill his Personal Legend. When Santiago finds his true love, Fatima, in the oasis, he feels even more convinced to abandon his Personal Legend. Fatima and the alchemist must show Santiago that his dream holds more importance than staying with her.

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3. What is the attitude of The Alchemist towards material wealth and individualism, and how does it differ from major world religions in this regard?

Unlike many religions, The Alchemist does not draw a distinction between the material and the spiritual world. The book also espouses individuality as a means for achieving the ultimate goals of creation. Additionally, elements of pantheism appear throughout the book. For one, Santiago communicates and finds omens in natural entities such as the desert and the wind. The alchemist says that these elements have Personal Legends just like humans do, and that they were also born from the Soul of the World. The alchemist also associates the process of purifying metal into gold with spiritual purification.

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6. Who does Melchizedek point out to Santiago as someone who did not follow their Personal Legend?
(A) A butcher
(B) A baker
(C) A candlestick maker
(D) The dream interpreter

baker

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What does the book that Santiago buys in Tarifa describe in its opening pages?
(A) A burial ceremony
(B) A desert journey
(C) A fierce battle
(D) A hidden treasure

a burial ceremony

96

8. As Santiago sets off to Africa, Melchizedek recalls guiding who else to his personal legend?
(A) The alchemist
(B) Jesus
(C) Paulo Coelho
(D) Abraham

Abraham

97

9. What distracts Santiago and allows the young man in Tarifa to steal his money?
(A) A beautiful Arab girl
(B) A king adorned with robes
(C) A scabbard embossed in silver
(D) A stand selling exotic fruits

scabbard

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10. What kind of vendor does Santiago admire the morning after he is robbed by the young man in Tarifa?
(A) A fruit vendor
(B) A weapons smith
(C) A bookseller
(D) A candy seller

candy

99

11. What does Santiago suggest to the crystal merchant as a strategy to make more money?
(A) Sell tea in crystal glasses
(B) Discount crystal on weekends
(C) Open a stall in the marketplace
(D) Export crystal to Spain

tea in crystal

100

2. According to the Englishmen, what is the name of the discovery that is the result of refining metal until all that is left is the Soul of the World?
(A) The Universal Legend
(B) The Master Work
(C) The Voice of the Wind
(D) The Hand of God

THE MASTER WORK

101

13. What is the product of alchemy that can turn lead into gold?
(A) The Master Work
(B) The Alchemist’s Furnace
(C) The Philosophers Stone
(D) The Elixir of Gold

Philosophers Stone

102

14. What is the product of alchemy that can cure all illnesses?
(A) The Master Work
(B) The Philosopher’s Stone
(C) The Soul of the World
(D) The Elixir of Life

ELixir of Life

103

15. Upon what item is the core secret of alchemy written?
(A) The Holy Grail
(B) The Emerald Tablet
(C) The Book of Kings
(D) The One Ring

Emerald Tablet

104

16. What surprises Santiago about the Al-Fayoum oasis?
(A) It is larger than towns in Spain
(B) Residents dress entirely in black
(C) All residents speak fluent Spanish
(D) Strange animals roam the streets

larger than towns in Spain

105

17. Where does Santiago meet Fatima?
(A) Inside the chieftain’s tent
(B) Next to a well
(C) Crying in the desert
(D) In a stable

Next to a well

106

18. What is the portentous omen that Santiago sees in the Al-Fayoum oasis?
(A) A pair of hawks fighting
(B) A dying scarab
(C) A fast-moving black cloud
(D) A fierce and sudden windstorm

fighting hawks

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19. How does the tribal chieftain punish the chief of the invading army?
(A) Tarring and feathering
(B) Death by beheading
(C) Death by hanging
(D) Banishment from the desert

Death by HANGING

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20. What job does the Al-Fayoum tribal chieftain offer Santiago to reward him for warning of invading armies?
(A) Army General
(B) Counselor of the Oasis
(C) Templar Commander
(D) Diplomat to Europe

Counselor of the Oasis

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21. What danger do Santiago and the alchemist come across in their first foray into the desert?
(A) A drunken soldier
(B) A tempting mirage
(C) A poisonous cobra
(D) A thieving Bedouin

FIRST FORAY was a cobra

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22. Which part of nature didn’t Santiago speak to when he was trying to turn himself into the wind?
(A) The Sun
(B) The Wind
(C) The Desert
(D) The Trees

the trees

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23. What do the alchemist and the monk talk about while the alchemist is transforming the lead?
(A) The loneliness of the desert
(B) The tenants of Coptic faith
(C) The persistent tribal wars
(D) Their favorite African celebrities

The Persistent tribal wars

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24. Why does Santiago choose to dig in the dune by the pyramids?
(A) The wind tells him too
(B) He has a vision in a dream
(C) He sees a scarab there
(D) There’s an “X” on the ground

he sees a scarab there (THE X MUST BE A DIFFERENT PART OF THE BOOK!!)

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25. What is the treasure that Santiago finds under the sycamore tree?
(A) A chest of gold and jewels
(B) A letter from his parents
(C) The Philosophers Stone
(D) A diamond encrusted chalice

gold and jewels

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1. How does the story of Narcissus relate to the broader message of The Alchemist?

The myth of Narcissus usually ends when Narcissus becomes so thoroughly entranced by his own reflection that he falls in the lake and drowns. In the novel’s version of the myth, however, we learn that the lake felt upset because Narcissus died, since it enjoyed looking at its own reflection in Narcissus’s eyes. This version of the myth presents a more complicated picture of vanity than the original. As opposed to being an undesirable trait that leads to death, vanity appears to be an entirely natural characteristic, so much so that the lake displays it.
Like the introductory Narcissus story, The Alchemist itself has a message that focusing on oneself can connect a person to nature and the spiritual world. Only through single-mindedly pursuing his own Personal Legend does Santiago learn the secrets of the Soul of the World, for instance. Throughout the book, Santiago must put his own interests first repeatedly, as when he chooses to be a shepherd rather than a priest and when he leaves the oasis to continue on his journey. But through disregarding everything but his own dream, Santiago realizes his true potential. In this way, he penetrates to the Soul of the World.

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Unlike many popular literary tales, The Alchemist initially presents love not as a goal, but as an

obstacle. Santiago says his initial love of the merchant’s daughter acts as the only thing that makes him want to stay in one place forever. This desire stands in direct opposition to the journey he must complete in order to fulfill his Personal Legend. When Santiago finds his true love, Fatima, in the oasis, he feels even more convinced to abandon his Personal Legend. Fatima and the alchemist must show Santiago that his dream holds more importance than staying with her.
This picture of love is unique compared to traditional illustrations of romantic love. For one, this love is completely distinct from possession. Santiago has a significant internal dialogue about this distinction, and he puts it to the test when he leaves Fatima. Love, in The Alchemist, is also secondary to pursuing one’s Personal Legend. As the alchemist tells Santiago, Santiago’s love for Fatima will only survive if he continues living out his Personal Legend so that he will have no regrets later. Despite these facts, which seem to downplay the importance of love, Fatima’s kiss serves as the final image of the book, suggesting that love remains necessary for Santiago to live a contented life.

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3. What is the attitude of The Alchemist towards material wealth and individualism, and how does it differ from major world religions in this regard?


Unlike many religions, The Alchemist does not draw a distinction between the material and the spiritual world. The book also espouses individuality as a means for achieving the ultimate goals of creation. Additionally, elements of pantheism (: a doctrine that equates God with the forces and laws of the universe) appear throughout the book. For one, Santiago communicates and finds omens in natural entities such as the desert and the wind. The alchemist says that these elements have Personal Legends just like humans do, and that they were also born from the Soul of the World. The alchemist also associates the process of purifying metal into gold with spiritual purification.

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The book’s dominant strain of evolutionary spirituality appears most clearly when

when Santiago tries to turn himself into the wind. In the context of the novel, when a natural element or individual pursues a Personal Legend, it will evolve into a higher state of being. The goal of creation consists of all nature, humans and inanimate objects included, undergoing this evolution until the universe achieves perfection. This philosophy differs from traditional spirituality in that it requires everything pursuing its individual dream to achieve this state rather than practicing selflessness. In fact, the novel even portrays religious characters that practice self-denial, such as the crystal merchant, as failures.

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NARRATOR · The narrator is an

NARRATOR · The narrator is an anonymous omniscient observer. The narrator speaks in a simple tone and knows the thoughts and feelings of every character in the book.

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POINT OF VIEW · The point of view is

POINT OF VIEW · The point of view is third person omniscient, though the narrator focuses on Santiago’s journey. Occasionally, the narration will step back from Santiago and focus on an ancillary character, but it always returns to its protagonist. Notably, the narrator stops referring to Santiago after the first third of the book. Though the point of view comments on some of the characters’ innermost thoughts and desires, it is a mostly objective observer.

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TONE · The Alchemist reads like an ancient

myth or fable. It is simple, direct, and overtly didactic. It also has elements of a picaresque, an episodic tale detailing a hero’s adventures during his quest.

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TENSE · The story is told in

told in the past tense.

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SETTING (TIME) · The Alchemist is set in

an indistinct time in the past. It is clearly a pre-modern time, before automobiles and most modern technology existed.

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SETTING (PLACE) · The main plot of the alchemist takes place in the

the Spanish pastures, the Spanish town of Tarifa, the city of Tangier in North Africa, and the Sahara desert.

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PROTAGONIST · The novel’s protagonist is

Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd.

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MAJOR CONFLICT · The major conflict of the book is Santiago’s what

Santiago’s personal tension between completing his Personal Legend to travel all the way to Egypt to find a treasure at the pyramids and settling along the way for the treasures he has already earned.

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RISING ACTION · Santiago makes a series of

material sacrifices in order to pursue his Personal Legend to reach the pyramids of Egypt.

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CLIMAX · Santiago struggles to

to turn himself into the wind while being held by warring tribesman in the Sahara Desert.

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FALLING ACTION · Santiago arrives at the pyramids, but in a twist, he must

go back to Spain as he learns that his treasure was buried in an abandoned church by a sycamore tree where he started his journey.

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THEMES ·

THEMES · The Centrality of Personal Legends; The Unity of Nature; The Danger of Fear

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MOTIFS ·

MOTIFS · Dreams; Maktub; Omens

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SYMBOLS ·

SYMBOLS · Santiago’s Sheep; Alchemy; The Desert

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FORESHADOWING · One piece of foreshadowing occurs when Santiago has

initial dream of the pyramids under the sycamore tree. Later, we learn that the treasure he saw in his dream is buried under that very tree. As story progresses, Melchizedek foreshadows Santiago’s success with the crystal merchant when he explains the notion of “beginner’s luck.” Additionally, the innocuous run-ins Santiago and the alchemist have with various tribesmen in the desert foreshadow Santiago’s and the alchemist’s eventual capture. Finally, Santiago’s ongoing envy of the wind foreshadows his climactic effort to turn himself into it.

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1. “…whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth."

This statement, which Melchizedek says to Santiago upon their first meeting, forms the foundation of the philosophy of The Alchemist. Essentially, Melchizedek says that dreams are not silly or selfish desires that should be ignored. Instead, they serve as the primary means by which people can get in touch with the mystical force that connects everything in the universe

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2. “…every blessing ignored becomes a curse. I don't want anything else in life. But you are forcing me to look at wealth and at horizons that I have never known. Now that I have seen them, and now that I see how immense my possibilities are, I'm going to feel worse than I did before you arrived. Because I know the things I should be able to accomplish, and I don't want to do so.”

The crystal merchant says these words to Santiago as Santiago prepares to leave Tangier after an extremely successful year working at the crystal shop. The crystal merchant expresses a regret common among several ancillary characters in The Alchemist, such as the baker and Santiago’s father. He knows that he has not achieved all he can in life and feels depressed as a result.

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3. “We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions or our property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”

Here, the camel driver addresses fear while he tells Santiago his life story during the trip to Al-Fayoum. Fear acts as the biggest impediment to achieving one’s Personal Legend. Santiago faces many obstacles during his journey, but he regularly feels tempted to abandon his quest when he fears losing what he has already earned.

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4. “The alchemists spent years in their laboratories, observing the fire that purified the metals. They spent so much time close to the fire that gradually they gave up the vanities of the world. They discovered that the purification of the metals had led to a purification of themselves.”

The Englishman relates this history to Santiago as Santiago reads a book on alchemy. The quotation summarizes the key insight that connects the practice of transforming metals through alchemy with the idea of human beings attaining spiritual perfection by pursuing their Personal Legends. Just as alchemists purify lead, removing its impurities to transform it into gold, a person can purify himself by focusing completely on living out his Personal Legend

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5. “What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’
“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.

The alchemist’s statement implies that the important part of pursuing one’s Personal Legend consists not just in reaching the final goal, whether that be turning lead into gold or finding a treasure near the pyramids, but also in learning through action

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How does the alchemist claim to know that Santiago would be coming?
He dreamed it.
He heard rumors.
He read tea leaves.
The wind told him.

He dreamed it

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What does the name "Melchizedek" mean in Hebrew?
Follow the treasure
Glory from action
King of subjection
Righteous is my king

Righteous is my king

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What Greek character is the subject of the alchemist's story in the prologue?
Hephaestus
Narcissus
Oedipus
Zeus

Narcissus

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What is the crystal merchant's dream?
To be a shepherd
To design a bauble for a king
To see the pyramids
To visit Mecca

Mecca

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What is the motto of the crystal merchant?
Dreams lead you.
It is written.
Only god knows.
We're all doomed.

It is written.

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What language did the Englishman study prior traveling to Africa?
Esperanto
Latin
Spanish
Tangier

Spanish

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What primary lesson does Santiago learn from the king of Salem?
Cheese makes everything taste better.
Don't expect much.
Move forward when luck seems to be on your side.
The Fates control life; but they can be bribed.

Move forward when luck seems to be on your side.

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What were the main goals of "alchemy" during Santiago's time?
A and C
To change lead and other cheap metal into gold
To discover an elixir of perpetual youth
To have hallucinogenic dreams and a more intense sex life

Lead into Gold

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Which of the following animals is NOT an important symbol in The Alchemist?
Cobra
Hawk
Horse
Wild cat

Wild Cat

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There was one question in this deck that included sex as an answer

I d not recall any sex in this book