Study Guide

The Alchemist What's Up With the Title?

By Paulo Coelho

What's Up With the Title?

The Alchemist is about … the alchemist. But is it? Is this book really about the alchemist who appears at the oasis, way in the second half of the book, and who isn't even there at the end.

Do you think it might be about, say, the protagonist?

Even though the alchemist is pretty important, Santiago is definitely our hero. And even though he never manages to turn lead into gold, he does learn how to purify his soul, listen to his heart, and speak the language of the universe, all skills of a great alchemist. In fact, we think that Coelho is messing with us a little bit, and calling Santiago the alchemist in the title. It's a way of showing us that anyone can reach their Personal Legend, even a little shepherd boy—and maybe even an intrepid Shmooper.

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