Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and places it in a
highly unique situation. And though we may sniff a bestselling
formula, it is certainly not a new one: even the ancient tribal
storytellers knew that this is the most successful method of
entertaining an audience while slipping in a lesson or two.
Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coelho introduces Santiago, an
Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure
in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he's off: leaving Spain to
literally follow his dream.
Source for Review: Nature
novel opens with Santiago thinking about his sheep.
What does he observe about their existence?
How might the sheep symbolize the way some people live their
lives? How does his observation that they “have forgotten to rely
on their own instincts” foreshadow later events in the story?
does Santiago’s father react when his son tells him that he wants
what degree is his father’s observation about travelers (“They
come in search of new things, but when they leave they are basically
the same people they were when they arrived.”) true about
does the old fortune teller say that Santiago’s dream is difficult
to interpret?. Why is
Santiago suspicious of her?
old man tells Santiago the story about the miner and the emerald.
How does it connect to Santiago’s situation?
What does he mean when he says that “treasure is uncovered
by the force of flowing water, and it is buried by the same
currents”? What does
this quote have to do with the miner/emerald story?
point does the old man’s story about the boy in the castle and the
drops of oil make? How
might this story apply to us in our modern lives?
does the King assist Santiago in recognizing omens?
When does Santiago use this help?
do Santiago’s thoughts and perceptions about himself and the world
begin to change? Describe
three things that Santiago sees now that he had never noticed
lessons does Santiago learn by working at the crystal shop?
Why do you think Coelho chose crystal?
How does the crystal merchant’s explanation for not taking
the pilgrimage to Mecca highlight the difference between Santiago
and the merchant? What
effect does the merchant say Santiago has had on him?
Englishman and his goals are described.
What is he looking for? What does he demonstrate to Santiago
that he already knows? The
Englishman says that the progress made at the crystal shop is an
example of the principle of the Soul of the World. What does he
mean? How does he
define this? How does
he connect the idea to the relationship between the caravan and the
oasis is described in great detail.
How does its lushness, laughter and color reflect what
Santiago finds there? Where
else in the story does Coelho provide details about the physical
setting in order to lend more meaning to the events which occur
how Santiago’s union with Fatima represents the Language of the
World, according to Santiago. Why
does Fatima accept that her new husband wanders the desert, as she
is the meaning of the two dead hawks and the falcon in the oasis?
How does this omen change Santiago’s status in society?
his trek through the desert with the alchemist, Santiago is told of
many basic truths. The
alchemist says, “There is only one way to learn.
It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have
learned through your journey.”
What are some of the things Santiago has learned through
do you think the alchemist tells Santiago the story about the
man’s dream about the two sons (the poet and the soldier)?
did Santiago have to go through the dangers of the tribal wars on
the outskirts of the oasis in order to reach the Pyramids? At this
point, the boy remembers the old proverb: “The darkest hour of the
night came just before the dawn.”
How does this apply to his situation now?
At the end of the journey, why did the alchemist leave
Santiago alone to complete it?
in the story, the alchemist told Santiago, “When you possess great
treasures within you, and try to tell others of them, seldom are you
believed.” At the end
of the story, how did this simple lesson change Santiago’s life?
How did it lead him back to the treasure he was looking for?
was one lesson that Santiago learned on his journey that you have
personally identified with during the reading? Find the quotation from the story and include this in
your answer. If you
were to adopt this quotation as your life focus, how would you use
it to better your daily choices?
Source for discussion questions: Mrs. Koplik, Literature and
Click here: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.