The Alchemist


Plot Summary

Santiago is an Andalusian shepherd boy who chose his profession because he wanted to travel and see the world, in defiance of his father’s wish that he become a priest. Santiago is a good shepherd and is in tune with his sheep and their needs. He is looking forward to arriving in a village a few days hence, where he hopes to reconnect with a young woman he met a year earlier. Taking shelter for the night in the sacristy of a ruined church, he falls asleep under a sycamore tree and dreams, for the second time, of a child who comes to tell him that if he goes to the pyramids in Egypt he will find a hidden treasure. In the next village, he decides to have his dream interpreted by an old Gypsy woman. She tells him that he must go to the pyramids in Egypt to find the treasure, and in payment demands ten percent of it. Disappointed in her “interpretation,” he determines not to believe in dreams.

Later, he meets an old man who also offers to interpret his dream, in exchange for ten percent of his sheep. The old man also tells him to go to Egypt to find his treasure. The boy is irritated at having given up six sheep to receive the same advice that the Gypsy had just given him. The man reveals himself to be Melchizedek, king of Salem. Melchizedek explains that Santiago has discovered his “Personal Legend,” the thing he has always wanted to accomplish, and that “to realize one’s Personal Legend is a person’s only real obligation,” and that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.” He tells Santiago to pay attention to omens during his quest. He opens his cape, revealing a golden breastplate studded with jewels. He removes from it two stones, one black and one white, and gives them to Santiago. He tells him that when he can’t make decision, he should consult the stones, which are called Urim and Thummim, representing yes and no.

Santiago’s first stop is Tangier, in North Africa, where he discovers that people speak Arabic. He meets a stranger in a bar who...

Sign up to continue reading Plot Summary >

Essays About The Alchemist