Study Guide

The Alchemist Fear

By Paulo Coelho

Fear

Are you frightened? Not nearly frightened enough… of losing your dreams. In The Alchemist, the #1 dream-killer is fear. Santiago is allowed to feel pretty much all of his feelings, but not fear: if he's ever going to achieve his Personal Legend/life's goal, he's going to have to learn to control his fear. But fear of what? Well, Coelho singles out fear of failure as pretty much the worst kind of fear, but all of it gets in the way: fear of death, or fear of personal harm, fear of failing your exams because you can't stop listening to the new Beyoncé album. All of them get in the way of taking action, and all of them need to be crushed.

Questions About Fear

  1. Is fear ever a good thing in The Alchemist? Why or why not?
  2. Why is fear of failure such an important concept in the novel? What is its role in the characters' journeys?
  3. What is it about the desert that gives it special rules about fear and cowardice versus bravery? Must people be especially brave in the desert? 
  4. Does that mean the desert is more of a symbol rather than an actual, physical place?

Chew on This

In The Alchemist, fear is the enemy of fulfillment.

Sometimes fear is productive in The Alchemist, when it warns the characters of danger.

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