Book Summary by Sihem Hammouda
The Alchemist is a book that traces the journey of Santiago , an Andalusian shepherd boy who was brave enough to forge his own destiny, and being rewarded at the end of it by fortune and true love .
Santiago is far from being the common shepherd we’re used to .He is as wise as a philosopher and as brave as a soldier. Though he masters Latin and Spanish, he chooses to be a shepherd rather than a priest to fulfill his dream of travelling the world because “knowing the world is what a man was born to do rather than knowing God and learning about man’s sins.”
Life is full of possibilities and Santiago is ready to take risks .He has no fear of leaping into the unknown or treading a foreign land in the pursuit of his dream . Even his father yielded to his wish and gave him money to buy his own flock of sheep .He wanted him to live a dream he buried deep down for he believed that he was born to care of food and water unlike his son.
On his journey to Egypt , Santiago decided to visit Tarifa to ask a gypsy who interprets dreams to decode his . He told her that he was in the field with his sheep when a child appears to him .The child then plays with the sheep and ignores his orders to stop. All of a sudden the child gets up takes him by both hands and transports him to the way of Egyptian pyramids then told him “ if you come here ,you will find a hidden treasure” (13-14) .The dream stops there and Santiago wakes up . But all that the woman can do is to reiterate the obvious message of the dream which disheartens him but he was happy though for he doesn’t have to pay for her because she requested one-tenth of the treasure when he finds it .
Upon leaving the Gypsy’s house, Santiago sits in the Plaza to read a book .There he meets an old man claimed to be Mechizedek ,the king of Salem .The old man told him that everyone has a personal legend ,or a dream he wants to achieve and urged him to follow his and forge his destiny though it might be tough. He gave him two magical stones : Urim and Thummim which represent ‘yes’ and ‘no’ respectively to help him make decisions when he is at loss and cannot understand the omens ;the language of the world .Even when he is not physically present the king appears as a symbol or an idea to help Santiago continue pursuing his personal legend in times of doubt.
Upon arriving in Tangiers, he meets at the bar a man who promises to serve his guide and help him get to the pyramids but the man turns out to be a thief and steals his money. Santiago regrets him listening to the omens that misled him. He cried a lot and thought that ‘ God was unfair because this was his way god repaid who believed in his dreams.’ But he soon gathered himself and decided to think of himself as an adventurer in quest of his treasure rather than a poor victim of a thief.
To make up for his loss ,he starts working for a crystal merchant .It is the kind of job that won’t make him happy but he works hard and puts aside money to buy some sheep .Unlike Santiago,the merchant doesn’t much like change ;he wants to live his life according with Muslim law .His dream of going to Mecca keeps him alive that he fears that if it is realized he will have no reason to go on living .This explains why he is shocked when he knows that the boy would cross the desert just to see the pyramids .He thinks they’re just a pile of stones . He hates to take risks too that’s why when Santiago asks him to build a display case for the crystal to attract more people the merchant refuses .He fears that people will pass by and bump into the display case and pieces will be broken But he eventually yields under the shepherd insistence .As a result business has improved and money was pouring into the cash drawer. In less than a year, he doubled his flock, did business with the Arabs besides mastering Arabic .Meeting up the thief turned out to be a blessing against all odds.
By the end of his journey ,Santiago meets the alchemist who resides the Al-Fayoum oasis .He is a powerful practitioner of alchemy .He appears to possess magical powers and wisdom that connects him to the mystical soul of the world .This connection provides him with supernatural abilities and it allows him to guide Santiago on his quest to understand the soul of the world .The alchemist teaches Santiago to follow his heart and never give up her dream. He assured him that if Fatima’s love is true she will wait him .Santigo left fatma armored by her kiss and promises to come back once he found his treasure .
When digging for his treasure near the pyramids, he was attacked by refugees from tribal wars .They beat him fiercely and took his money. Before leaving him near to death their chieftain told him that it was foolish of him to believe in dreams for he once dreamt of a hidden treasure in a ruined church in Spain where a shepherd and his sheep sleep. From this ,Santiago realized the truth where his treasure is buried .It turned out that he crossed the desert to discover that his treasure was waiting for him all along at home.santiago goes home to find his treasure awaiting for him .After he digs it out , he plans to visit the gypsy to give her share of it then return to his beloved Fatima.