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The Alchemist Mapping Project
Transcript of The Alchemist Mapping Project
The Alchemist Mapping Project
We learn many things about Santiago in the first part of the book, but most importantly, about a dream he had very frequently. In this dream, a child takes his hand and guides him to the Egyptian Pyramids. After having an encounter with a gypsy woman and speaking to a wise king, he discovers that there is a treasure hidden in the Pyramids, and goes off on a journey to find this treasure and pursue his Personal Legend.
The first significant character we see in the book other than Santiago is a gypsy woman that lives in Tarifa. She is consulted by Santiago about his dream, and she is the one who first tells him where his treasure is.
Santiago is the main character in
. He is a kind shepherd boy from Andalusia who has a passion for travelling. Because of a recurring dream, he decides to go off on a journey to the pyramids in Egypt, to pursue his Personal Legend.
The book shows Santiago just arriving at the church. After an hour and a half of digging under the sycamore tree, he finds a chest full of Spanish gold coins, precious stones, gold masks and stone statues embedded with jewels. Overjoyed with this discovery, he begins his trip back to the oasis, to Fatima.
Tarifa is a small town in the province of Cádiz on the southern coast of Spain. The town is located on the Costa de la Luz and across the Straits of Gibraltar.
Tangier is a city in northern Morocco, located on the North African coast at the western entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. It is the capital of the Tangier-Tetouan Region and of the Tangier-Asilah prefecture of Morocco.
Melchizedek introduces Santiago to concepts such as the Soul of The World and Personal Legends. He gives the boy two magical stones, Urim and Thummim, and convinces him to pursue his dream.
He is an allusion to a Biblical character who goes by the same name.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
Santiago arrives in Tangier and doesn’t have the best luck: he is robbed from all money he had and because of that, completely loses all faith in achieving his Personal Legend. He decides to restart his life as a shepherd, and works in a crystal shop for over a year in order to gain money for sheep. However, after spending time with the clever shop owner, he realizes he must continue pursuing his dream and resumes his journey.
The crystal merchant is a devout Muslim struggling to maintain his crystal shop. He meets Santiago when the he offers to clean his shop in exchange for food. Later on, he offers Santiago a job and serves as an important friend to him.
In Tangier, we see two of the four Stumbling Blocks to finding your Personal Legend:
The third Stumbling Block, fear of defeat, is shown when Santiago almost gives up on pursuing his Personal Legend when he is robbed.
While talking to Santiago, the crystal merchant reveals that his Personal Legend is making a pilgrimage to Mecca, but is too afraid to pursue it because he thinks he will have nothing to live for once he’s achieved his dream. This represents the fourth Stumbling Block: fear of realizing your dream.
“One day, the earth began to tremble, and the Nile overflowed its banks.” (Page 76)
The desert symbolizes the difficulties one faces while pursuing his or her Personal Legend.
"The desert is a capricious lady, and sometimes she drives men crazy." (Page 71)
The caravan crosses the Sahara Desert. It is the world's hottest desert, and the third largest. It covers most of North Africa, passing through Algeria, Chad, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Western Sahara, Sudan and Tunisia.
The Al-Fayoum Oasis, or the Faiyum Oasis, is located in the desert immediately to the west of the Nile south of Cairo. It is described to have three hundred wells, fifty thousand date trees, and innumerable colorful tents.
Santiago’s journey takes an unexpected turn when he meets Fatima, a woman from the oasis. He immediately falls in love with her and wants to marry her, but she is reluctant. During a walk in the desert, Santiago witnesses an omen and believes that it represents an attack on the oasis. He warns the tribal chieftains of this attack, and as a result, Al-Fayoum successfully defends itself against the assault. He meets the alchemist, who offers to accompany Santiago on his journey to finish his Personal Legend, but the boy is reluctant because he does not want to leave Fatima. This represents the second Stumbling Block: love. Fatima manages to convince him to go on, and he leaves the oasis with the alchemist.
Santiago meets Fatima while she is gathering water from the local well, and instantly falls in love with her. He is willing to stop pursuing his Personal Legend so he can stay with her, but she refuses, saying that she will not stop him from doing what he is meant to do. She convinces him he must go and is confident that he will return.
The book's main theme is about finding one's destiny and also about fate. We see Santiago pursuing his Personal Legend, his destiny, throughout the book and we can see that the book transmits a message: everyone needs a dream. The power of 'maktub' is what courses through the entire story, and we can see that everything that happens to Santiago is linked somehow, showing that it was fate.
Omens are a main concept of the book, and we see many examples of them throughout the story. For example, when Urim and Thummim drop from Santiago’s pocket in the market, after he had been robbed, he chooses to consider the event an omen.
The vision of the hawks and approaching armies that Santiago has in Al-Fayoum tells Santiago of an assault on the oasis that could lead to the deaths of hundreds are another one of the omens in the book.
On his way back from informing the chieftains of his vision of the falcons, Santiago meets the alchemist. He is an extremely powerful man who has among his possessions the Master Work. He is supposedly 200 years old, and seems to possess magical power.
On the day Santiago promised to turn himself into the wind, he communicates with the wind, the desert and the sun and asks them if they could do so. They say they cannot and instead create a tremendous sandstorm.He then prays to the Hand That Wrote All and reaches through the Soul of the World, and he sees it is part of the Soul of God.
He reappears on the other side of the camp, and the tribesmen, awed by Santiago’s ability, let him and the alchemist go free.
Journey to the Pyramids
Soon after heading to the Pyramids, Santiago and the alchemist are captured by Arab soldiers. They are set free due to Santiago fulfilling an absurd promise: to turn into the wind. They reach a monastery several hours from the pyramids, and there, the alchemist demonstrates to Santiago his ability to turn lead into gold using the Philosopher’s Stone. He gives Santiago some gold and him off to the Pyramids.
Upon arriving, Santiago begins digging for the treasure at the foot of the Pyramids, but several men interrupt him. They think he’s hid something where he was digging, and do not believe him when he tells them he has not hid anything. They beat him and he speaks to them about his dream vision. They decide he must have no money and let him live. Before leaving, one of the men tells Santiago about his own dream, that concerns a treasure buried in an abandoned church in Spain where a sycamore tree grows. Santiago immediately knows where his treasure is.
With the money he earned in the crystal shop, Santiago buys a trip to the Sahara Desert in a caravan. There, he meets the Englishman. He is on the caravan to go to the Al-Fayoum Oasis and meet the alchemist, which is his Personal Legend. He explains alchemy and the Soul of the World to Santiago.
Throughout the entire book we see examples of the first Stumbling Block, being told that everything you want to do is impossible. Many people laugh at Santiago for trying to pursue his Personal Legend, a good example being one of the men who hurt him near the Pyramids.
The last example of omens we see in the book is the scarab beetle by the Pyramids. It represented God and made Santiago dig where it was.
“The alchemist's words echoed out like a curse.” (Page 138)