López 1 Alexis Omar López Dr.

Lynn Sukalo AP Literature and Composition 23 September 2009 Timed Write 4A: The Alchemist Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist, is the story of an Andalusian shepherd boy’s quest from southern Iberia to northeastern Africa, and it has been called a “fable” and a story of “universal wisdom.” On his journey, Santiago articulates the truths that are applicable to life today and how they should be used, encircling around the universal theme of the search for personal identity. As the plot develops, the nomadic lifestyle of the protagonist is stressed when he describes his flock’s relationship with him as “dependent.” The first underlying truth is the need of sovereignty. Santiago points out that since he “leads them to nourishment” they have “become dependent on him.” This statement is clearly parallel to his previous lifestyle. When he lived with his parents they were the providers, or the shepherds. Santiago was the dependent child, or in this case, the sheep. Inevitably, he had to become autonomous in order to achieve his personal legend. This truth is indeed applicable today in the sense that it is necessary to be free. When the story is about to reach its climactic point, Santiago is “severely tested” time after time. The second truth Coelho cunningly describes is how the ultimate objective in life is to trust oneself. As Santiago rides through the desert and contemplates the “heavens” he realizes that he must learn to trust himself. He is told to let his heart know that “the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.” However, after fastidious epiphanic consideration, a “spiritual flash that would change the way [he] viewed himself,” (Frank Maier), the protagonist learned that “his heart [and he] had become friends” and neither could “betray each other.” This contributes greatly to the search of identity within the novel since it defines yet a second step on how to achieve it. As the Alchemist and Santiago wander through the desert, they discuss a third truth, which is the validity dreams and aspirations. This comes up when Santiago doubts himself and the wise man steps in and gives confidence the boy. He explicates the idea that “when you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” This simply means that when wanting something in life it is most probable that the universe will be of assistance in gaining it, for the only “thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve… [is] the fear of failure.” Without this truth, the search for identity is left to perdition because personal identity cannot be accomplished without acknowledging the legitimacy of dreams. Coelho’s voice, or personal opinion, infiltrates the piece most notably. Through Melchizedek, the alleged King of Salem, Coelho explains his ideology of personal legends, and how “it is what you have always wanted to accomplish,” yet as time passes a “mysterious force” convinces people that those dreams are unattainable. When free it is indispensable to fulfill a personal legend; if not, then misery is the only alternative. Throughout the novel, literary devices are used which further explain the message, mood and tone that the author intends to convey. One that can take a person by surprise is Coelho’s brilliant use of magic realism and personification of an abstract concept represented as a person, seen when the heavens and the sun speak to Santiago. Another device in use is symbolism, the use of something material to represent something intangible. This is seen when Santiago enters the Gypsy’s residence and sees the image of “the Sacred Heart of Jesus” which reassures his trust on her. The author also uses another device, allusion, an indirect reference to another work of literature. This is seen in the prologue, where the tale Greek tale of Narcissus is told. The tale also uses another device, which is foreshadowing. This foretells the idea of the Soul of the World. Lastly, a literary device widely used in the novel is motif which in this case it the recurring idea of “treasure” which represent the completion of his personal legend.

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