The Alchemist

by: Paulo Coelho

Section 11

Summary Section 11

The alchemist teaches Santiago two additional lessons during the pair’s ensuing encounters with tribesmen. He admits to the first set of tribesman that he carries two legendary treasures, the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life, in order to show Santiago that most people do not believe someone who possesses great treasures. Though the alchemist refers to his material treasures, this lesson can also apply to intangible treasures, such as spiritual knowledge of dreams and omens. In another lesson, the alchemist snaps at Santiago for forgetting that they are in a dangerous place. Santiago, who has tamed his heart and feels no fear, prompts this reaction by the alchemist when he says he does not feel worried about the camp of tribesmen they pass. The alchemist reminds Santiago that the Soul of the World doesn’t regard him as any more special than anyone else, causing Santiago to think to himself that everything is one. As if to prove this point to Santiago, two men ride up on Santiago and the alchemist, and only leave when the alchemist persuades them to go.

The third encounter Santiago and the alchemist have with tribesmen does not end as easily as the first two, mainly because the alchemist seems to deliberately cause trouble. He gives away all of Santiago’s money, for instance, then claims that Santiago has the power to destroy their camp and will turn himself into the wind to prove it. The alchemist appears to do this to test Santiago, and while Santiago has faced tests previously on his journey to his Personal Legend, including surviving in Tangier and finding life in the desert with the alchemist, this test will be by far the greatest he has faced. Santiago has only three days to face down his fear of failing and learn to turn himself into the wind. At this point in the story, Santiago doesn’t have any idea how to do this. But as the alchemist has told him, no instruction manual can guide him. He must learn by doing.