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The Alchemist

Paulo Coelho

Section 12

Summary Section 12


A battle takes place during Santiago’s and the alchemist’s first day at the camp. Santiago finds the alchemist feeding his falcon and tells him he has no idea how to turn into the wind. He asks why the alchemist doesn’t seem worried, since if Santiago doesn’t turn into the wind, they will both die. The alchemist says he already knows how to turn himself into the wind.

For most of the second day, Santiago sits on a cliff contemplating his fear. On the third day the chief and his officers visit Santiago to see if he can make good on his claim. Santiago looks out to the desert and it speaks to him. Santiago tells the desert about his love for Fatima, and it offers its sand to Santiago to help the wind blow. It says that Santiago will also have to ask the wind for help.

A breeze picks up as Santiago asks the wind for help. The wind argues that Santiago differs too much from it, but Santiago contends that he desires to reach all corners of the world, just like the wind. The wind understands but doesn’t know what to do. Santiago tells the wind that love can empower it to do anything. The wind feels like Santiago demeans what it already knows how to do. It blows harder, annoyed, and tells Santiago to talk to the Hand That Wrote All. Santiago says he will, but that first the wind should create a sandstorm so he can look into the sky without the sun blinding him.

The wind picks up into a powerful gale called the simum and the tribesman ask their chief if they can stop Santiago’s stunt. The chief, however, wants to see Santiago complete his task. Santiago speaks to the sun. The sun tells him it knows of love, but Santiago argues it does not. Santiago says that all things have their own Personal Legend, and when something realizes its Personal Legend, it must change so it can acquire a new Personal Legend. Alchemists use this process to coax lead into becoming gold. After hearing Santiago’s words, the sun decides to shine more brightly, and the wind blows harder so it can continue to block out the brightness.

Santiago tells the sun that love transforms the Soul of the World and asks the sun to turn him into the wind. The sun says it can’t and suggests Santiago speak to the Hand That Wrote All. The wind is happy to see the limit to the sun’s wisdom and blows harder. Santiago communicates with the Hand That Wrote All but senses he should not speak. Instead, he prays and experiences a rush of love. He realizes that the Soul of God is his own soul, and that he can perform miracles.

Generations of people after remember the wind on that day. When the tribesmen look at where Santiago was standing, he is gone. Instead, he stands far on the other side of camp. The men feel terrified, and the alchemist seems pleased. The chief lets Santiago and the alchemist continue on their journey and provides them with an escort party.