Study Guide

The Alchemist Warfare

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The Alchemist is no World War Z or The Book Thief, but it still has something to say about warfare. We don't get plunged into any violent, bloody battle scenes, but war is always present in the desert. After all the kumbaya of love (See "Love" in Themes) and harmony, it's actually kind of strange to read about the hints of danger of war as the characters travel across the Sahara. In The Alchemist, war is presented as just another manifestation of the soul of the universe, a way of balancing things out. Personally, we'd prefer yoga or feng shui—but, hey, to each his own.

Questions About Warfare

  1. Do you think that war is really a way of the universe balancing out powers? Would it be possible to live in a world without war?
  2. What does the oasis represent for the travelers, in terms of war and peace?
  3. Why do you think that the Englishman's revolver helped him to trust in people?

Chew on This

The oasis represents a calm shelter in the storm of war; however, the broken Tradition shows that nowhere is safe from war.

Santiago does not care about the lives lost in the war because he is only preoccupied with himself and his Personal Legend.

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