The Alchemist

Pdf fan dd71f526917d6085d66d045bd94fb5b55d02a108dd45d836cbdd4abe2d4c043d Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Themes and Colors
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
Maktub and What is Meant to Be Theme Icon
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
Alchemy and the Value of Simplicity Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Alchemist, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon

After Santiago arrives in the desert during his pursuit of his Personal Legend, he begins to realize that there is a universal language spoken by all humans, animals, and objects. He learns to speak to the sun and the wind by listening to the desert and by listening to his heart, which can speak the Language of the World. This Language allows him to access “The Soul of The World,” which is a God-like oneness of all things. The novel’s portrayal of a universal language and The Soul of The World demonstrates its theme of the interconnectedness of all things.

Santiago feels a great sense of unity with other people, places, and objects he encounters on his quest, and his ability to access this feeling of unity allows him to learn about the world. For example, the alchemist challenges Santiago to find life in the desert, and Santiago realizes that he does not need advanced skills to do this. He realizes that the interconnectedness of all things allows his horse to be aware of the world, and that life attracts life. He lets his horse lead him to rocks where a snake lives.

The alchemist, an unsurprisingly important figure in the novel given its title, nevertheless does not teach Santiago the literal practices of alchemy in which metals are processed and transformed into gold. But he does help Santiago see that the processes of alchemy, such as purifying and simplifying or observing something to learn from it, are applicable to all of life. For example, Santiago learns from the alchemist that studying the world will teach him everything he needs to know, just as studying the Englishman’s texts might have taught him the particulars of alchemy. Because of the interconnectedness of all things, the world itself is a great teacher. Any one thing, no matter how small, allows access to the entirety of creation. A metal can access and become gold because of this oneness, and Santiago can transform himself into the wind because of this oneness. The novel portrays tapping into the interconnectedness of things as the goal of both alchemy and the pursuit of one’s Personal Legend.

The Interconnectedness of All Things ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of The Interconnectedness of All Things appears in each chapter of The Alchemist. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
How often theme appears:
Chapter length:
Get the entire The Alchemist LitChart as a printable PDF.
The alchemist.pdf.medium

The Interconnectedness of All Things Quotes in The Alchemist

Below you will find the important quotes in The Alchemist related to the theme of The Interconnectedness of All Things.
Part One Quotes

“You came so that you could learn about your dreams,” said the old woman.

“And dreams are the language of God. When he speaks in our language, I

can interpret what he has said. But if he speaks in the language of the soul,

it is only you who can understand.”

Related Characters: The Fortune-teller (speaker), Santiago
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

Santiago has a recurring dream of a child guiding him to a treasure near the Egyptian Pyramids, and he decides to seek the help of a fortune-teller in interpreting the dream. The fortune-teller offers these cautionary words when Santiago requests her interpretative skills. This quote introduces several ideas that will be important throughout the novel. First, there is the active role that God and spirituality play in this book. Santiago does not operate without divine guidance. He is continually presented with omens that appear either through the physical world or in the words of other people. The fortune-teller believes Santiago’s dreams, which a reader might suppose to be naturally occurring, to be direct information from God. This places the reader into a context in which information from God is real and important to the plot of the novel. Furthermore, this information from God can come in one of two forms: human language or the language of the soul. The fortune-teller does not explain the language of the soul, but it reappears in the novel.

Later in the novel, Santiago learns, through his study of the philosophy of alchemy, how to connect with the world and other beings. He describes this connection at first in terms of a "universal language of the soul." This language of the soul transcends regular language boundaries, as well as the boundaries of species and elements. Through this universal language, Santiago is able to understand the wind and the desert, hawks and the horse he rides. Because this universal language is linked to God in this early passage, the connection between all things is seen as a spiritual connection throughout the novel.


Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Alchemist quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

“In order to find the treasure, you will have to follow the omens. God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.”

Related Characters: Melchizedek (the Old Man) (speaker), Santiago
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

Melchizedek gives Santiago several pieces of advice that will serve him well throughout the novel. The character of Melchizedek fills an archetypal role in literature: that of the elder giving helpful information to the protagonist who is setting out on a quest or facing a set of challenges. One of these pieces of advice is described in this passage: Santiago should pay attention to omens that he will receive from God. This idea again speaks to the role that God and spirituality play in this novel. God, who in the novel seems to be one and the same as the Soul of the World (and not associated with any particular world religion), actively guides Santiago. This shows that God is benevolent and engaged in human lives. One example of God guiding humans is through dreams, which the fortune-teller tells Santiago are from God. Another example is the omens. The pursuit of one’s Personal Legend may be easy to forget about and ignore, but once the quest begins one will receive help along the way.

This idea of God helping humans is not specific to Santiago's quest. Melchizedek could have said “God has prepared a path for you to follow,” but instead he says “God has prepared a path for everyone to follow.” This may seem like a subtle distinction, but it continues a larger idea of the novel that the themes and ideas presented here are relevant to the reader’s life, as well as all human lives. The topics of fulfilling one’s dreams and relying on God’s guidance are broadly applicable.

Once again he saw that, in that strange land, he was applying the same lessons he had learned with his sheep. “All things are one,” the old man had said.

Related Characters: Melchizedek (the Old Man) (speaker), Santiago
Related Symbols: Santiago’s sheep
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Despite his own hardships, Santiago takes time to help a candy seller in the Tangier marketplace assemble his market stall. Santiago and the candy seller don’t speak the same language, and yet Santiago is struck by how well the two are able to understand each other despite this language barrier. He realizes this feeling of communication without words is familiar to him because he was able to communicate with his sheep in the same way. Throughout the novel, Santiago’s sheep are a grounding point for him. He learned valuable information from his sheep simply by caring for and observing them. This shows the value of simplicity--an important lesson of the novel. Santiago didn’t need to do anything dramatic or fancy to learn some of the most important life lessons. He simply needed to care for his sheep and observe the world.

Santiago’s connection with the candy seller and with his sheep presents the idea of a universal language. This novel develops the connections among all things in the universe, and one example of this connection is the idea of a universal language that transcends all barriers. Melchizedek also spoke of this interconnectedness of all things, which Santiago remembers in this passage as the phrase "all things are one"--essentially an encapsulation of the idea of a pantheistic universe.

Part Two Quotes

“Hunches,” his mother used to call them. The boy was beginning to understand that intuition is really a sudden immersion of the soul into the universal current of life, where the histories of all people are connected, and we are able to know everything, because it's all written there. “Maktub,” the boy said, remembering the crystal merchant.

Related Characters: Santiago (speaker), The Crystal Merchant
Page Number: 76
Explanation and Analysis:

Santiago meets a camel driver as he is traveling with a group of tribespeople across the desert. This man is another figure in Santiago’s life that provides him with guidance and life lessons. The camel driver tells Santiago to observe the desert and learn from it. Santiago feels a strong connection with the desert, despite not having grown up in it like many of the travelers. He feels this sense of connection is because he is able to tap into the unity among all things, which is the Soul of the World and the source of a universal language. These different terms are used throughout the novel to get at the same idea.

This passage explains the Soul of the World as a “current of life” that contains everything in the universe, past, present, and future. Accessing this “current of life” clearly enables one to access everything and know everything. This overwhelming power normally appears in human lives as intuition, or “hunches.” It is not quantifiable or explainable, but it is a key truth in the world of this novel.

The Soul of the World is also connected in this passage to another key idea of the book—the idea that some things are “written.” Here, Santiago reflects that this connection is possible because everything about the world is “written,” meaning that everything in the world is generated from one source, God. This involves an idea of predestination and free will--that God knows what will happen, but that humans still have to choose whether to follow what is "written" or not.

“We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it’s our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand.”

Related Characters: The Camel Driver (speaker), Santiago
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

The camel driver teaches Santiago several important ideas as they travel together. Although he is different from Melchizedek and the Alchemist, his ideas are connected to the teachings of these other two men. The main focus on the camel driver’s character is the role of fear in human lives. His hardships from his past taught him to overcome fear over losing life, possessions, and property. In this quote, the camel driver explains why no person should fear loss. Fear stems from a misunderstanding of the world as a place in which humans can lose or gain things through our own failures or successes. Instead, the camel driver advocates for a worldview in which everything that happens is written by God. This idea reappears in the novel with the Crystal Merchant, who liked to say “maktub,” meaning “it is written,” and later with Fatima, who has faith that Santiago will return to her if their relationship is “meant to be.”

The idea of "maktub" is not placed at odds with free will or the need to actively pursue one’s Personal Legend. Instead, it is used as a way of thinking that provides comfort, reassurance, and peace. If one holds the worldview that all things are “written,” as the camel driver explains here, one can accept the future rather than feeling fear and anxiety about it. Good and bad possibilities are put into perspective by this worldview because they are both the work of the same creator.

“I learned that the world has a soul, and that whoever understands that soul can also understand the language of things. I learned that many alchemists realized their destinies, and wound up discovering the Soul of the World, the Philosopher's Stone, and the Elixir of Life. But, above all, I learned that these things are all so simple that they could be written on the surface of an emerald.”

Related Characters: The Englishman (speaker), Santiago
Related Symbols: Alchemy, The Emerald Tablet
Page Number: 85-86
Explanation and Analysis:

The Englishman asks Santiago to describe what he has learned from the alchemy books he loans the younger man during their journey. In this passage, Santiago explains what he has learned with an answer that surprises the Englishman. While the two have read the same texts, they have learned very different things. The Englishman values the complexity of alchemy and the hard work it requires. Santiago, on the other hand, values its simplicity and universality. The examples he provides in this quote all focus on universal ideas that make connections across places, cultures, and activities. Santiago speaks of the “Soul of the World” which is accessible to anyone, the success of alchemists in achieving their Personal Legends, and the simplicity of these ideas, which could be contained on the Emerald Tablet. The Englishman values the exclusivity of alchemy, believing it only yields its secrets to those who put in hard work. Santiago sees alchemy as broadly applicable and inclusive. His interpretation of alchemy ties into the idea used throughout the novel that the practices of alchemy can be applied in many areas of life. 

The Emerald Tablet contains universal ideas that require little explanation, as evidenced by the small amount of writing needed to communicate them. This shows that the more universal and applicable an idea, the simpler it often is.

At that moment, it seemed to him that time stood still, and the Soul of the World surged within him. When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were poised between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke—the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. Something that exerted the same force whenever two pairs of eyes met, as had theirs here at the well. She smiled, and that was certainly an omen—the omen he had been awaiting, without even knowing he was, for all his life. The omen he had sought to find with his sheep and in his books, in the crystals and in the silence of the desert.

Related Characters: Santiago, Fatima
Page Number: 95-96
Explanation and Analysis:

Santiago meets a young woman at the well in the oasis while he and the Englishman are searching for the Alchemist. Santiago’s reaction to meeting this young woman, whose name is Fatima, is immediate and overwhelming. Without even speaking to her, he understands that he loves her, and he sees their lives as intertwined. He's suddenly sure that she is what he was “awaiting, without even knowing he was, for all his life.” This passage uses some of the familiar clichés of “love at first sight,” including that for Santiago “time stands still,” and that he understands love for the first time in his life when he looks on Fatima. Furthermore, Coelho doesn't ever show us this moment from Fatima's point of view--it's just assumed that she too falls in love with Santiago, because it is "destiny."

There are also elements of this “love at first sight” passage that play off the unique themes of this novel. Santiago seems to access the Soul of the World and the universal language in this moment, and sees connections among all things because the source of these connections is love. Humanity and the world are united and connected by love, which Santiago is able to understand in the moment he falls in love. Fatima’s smile is described as an “omen,” and Santiago has been on the lookout for omens from God to guide him on his journey. Because Fatima’s smile is an omen, this connects the fateful meeting between these characters to the idea that God is preparing a path for Santiago. Their meeting is “written,” just as all of Santiago's other experiences and lessons have been.

“And I am a part of your dream, a part of your destiny, as you call it. That’s why I want you to continue toward your goal. If you have to wait until the war is over, then wait. But if you have to go before then, go on in pursuit of your dream. The dunes are changed by the wind, but the desert never changes. That’s the way it will be with our love for each other…Maktub,” she said. “If I am really a part of your dream, you'll come back one day.”

Related Characters: Fatima (speaker), Santiago
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

Fatima’s reaction to Santiago’s declaration of love relies on her understanding of the world as a place in which events, meetings, and actions are “written” by the hand of God. Her faith allows her to tell Santiago to go on his quest. Like the camel driver, she is not afraid of the future because she trusts in the idea of “maktub,” or “it is written.” She uses this exact same language, despite not having interacted with the other characters in the novel, such as the Crystal Merchant, who hold this worldview of God writing all that happens. Because Fatima repeats this same lesson, it is made abundantly clear that this is one of the central themes of the novel.

Fatima’s expression of her faith that Santiago will return if “it is written” uses descriptive language of nature. She says that “the dunes are changed by the wind, but the desert never changes.” This metaphor shows that while the surface of something might change, the identity of a thing cannot be changed. By comparing her and Santiago’s love to the desert, she shows that their love is deeper than the surface level, which can change in appearance. This nature metaphor also reinforces the idea that important life lessons can be learned from observing the natural world. Fatima models her behavior on a truth she learned while observing the desert.

Of course, it's also worth noting that Santiago and Fatima's love is supposed to be "deep and unchanging" because of destiny, not because they have actually gotten to know each other. Furthermore, Fatima only really exists as a part of Santiago's destiny--she has no real agency or "dream" of her own in the novel.

The camel driver understood what the boy was saying. He knew that any given thing on the face of the earth could reveal the history of all things. One could open a book to any page, or look at a person’s hand; one could turn a card, or watch the flight of the birds… whatever the thing observed, one could find a connection with his experience of the moment. Actually, it wasn’t that those things, in themselves, revealed anything at all; it was just that people, looking at what was occurring around them, could find a means of penetration to the Soul of the World.

Related Characters: Santiago, The Camel Driver
Page Number: 104-105
Explanation and Analysis:

Santiago has a vision of an army invading the oasis and decides to explain this to his friend the camel driver. He also explains that seeing hawks flying and fighting above the desert made him feel as if he were in touch with the Soul of the World. His vision seemed to be the result of this connection with the Soul of the World, as if by accessing the Soul of the World, Santiago was able to access knowledge of the future. The camel driver understands this idea because he believes that everything in the world is connected. This quote explains the consequences of that connection: if everything is connected, any one thing contains, or allows access to, all things. Therefore, it is enough to study a small corner of the world if one wants to learn about the whole world. The camel driver gives several examples of a small corner of the world that could provide information about the whole world—a page of a book, a hand, a card, the flight of birds. These things are all very simple. This shows that the more universal a concept, the simpler it is. (This concept also applies to alchemy, as the book makes clear elsewhere.)

But that the hand had a reason for all of this, and that only the hand could perform miracles, or transform the sea into a desert…or a man into the wind. Because only the hand understood that it was a larger design that had moved the universe to the point at which six days of creation had evolved into a Master Work. The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was a part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.

Related Characters: Santiago
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

Santiago and the Alchemist are taken hostage by warring tribesmen, but the Alchemist offers Santiago’s powers in exchange for their freedom. The leader, impressed, wants to see the power of Allah change a man into the wind. The only problem is that Santiago doesn’t know how to change himself into the wind. Santiago addresses the elements around him before finally directly addressing God, or the Hand that Wrote All. In this moment, Santiago is able to understand the "Hand" in a new way, as explained in this passage. Santiago sees that the hand of God has reasons behind all its actions, which might be impossible to understand without seeing the “larger design” of the world and the future that the hand can see.

In this moment, Santiago understands that the Soul of the World and the Soul of God are one and the same, and because he is part of the Soul of the World, he is also part of the Soul of God. Santiago has access to the future through the Soul of the World, and anything that God can do, Santiago can do through the Soul of the World. This passage empowers every single being because every single being is part of the Soul of the World, according to the pantheistic kind of spirituality explained in the novel. And, as explained here, being joined to the Soul of the World gives one access to everything that God has. All it takes is for Santiago to be able to perform miracles is to know that he can. It was a lack of belief and knowledge that stopped him using this power before. This power is accessible to anyone.

“You’re not going to die. You’ll live, and you’ll learn that a man shouldn’t be so stupid. Two years ago, right here on this spot, I had a recurrent dream, too. I dreamed that I should travel to the fields of Spain and look for a ruined church where shepherds and their sheep slept. In my dream, there was a sycamore growing out of the ruins of the sacristy, and I was told that, if I dug at the roots of the sycamore, I would find a hidden treasure. But I’m not so stupid as to cross an entire desert just because of a recurrent dream.”

Related Characters: The Leader of the Refugees (speaker), Santiago
Related Symbols: The Abandoned Church
Page Number: 167-168
Explanation and Analysis:

Santiago does not find his treasure buried at the pyramids, but as he is digging he is attacked by refugees of the tribal wars who think he is looking for something. When the leader of the refugees finally understands why Santiago was digging in the sand, he openly mocks Santiago and explains in this quote that he had a parallel dream to Santiago's recurring dream of treasure. The leader of the refugee's dream uses specific details from Santiago's past, information he could not otherwise know--such as the tree growing through the abandoned church. Unlike Santiago, he dismisses the importance of this dream and calls Santiago "stupid" for following a dream. The difference between this man and Santiago is that one can see and understand omens and the other cannot acknowledge the possibility that an omen might be presented to him--or, in broader terms, that one man was willing to throw everything away to pursue his Personal Legend, and one was not.

Santiago's faith in God and in the idea of "maktub" is what keeps him following his recurring dream even in the face of great trials. The leader of the refugees is a clear foil character for Santiago--an example of what he would have become had he not pursued his treasure. In the face of this man's derision and doubt, Santiago's persistence and faith are all the more clear. Santiago recognizes the scene from the man's story and understands that his treasure is not at the pyramids--it was back at home all along.

Epilogue Quotes

The wind began to blow again. It was the levanter, the wind that came from Africa. It didn’t bring with it the smell of the desert, nor the threat of Moorish invasion. Instead, it brought the scent of a perfume he knew well, and the touch of a kiss—a kiss that came from far away, slowly, slowly, until it rested on his lips. The boy smiled. It was the first time she had done that. “I’m coming, Fatima,” he said.

Related Characters: Santiago (speaker), Fatima
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel ends with Santiago's quest complete, his treasure claimed, and his promise to return to Fatima in the oasis. This quote highlights the connection between Santiago and Fatima across continents. Their connection is embodied in the wind that blows from Africa to Spain. This language reinforces the idea that Santiago and Fatima are connected through the Soul of the World, which connects all things. The wind is a medium that passes Fatima's scent and kiss to Santiago, because the wind is likewise part of the Soul of the World. 

Santiago ends the novel with a smile and a whispered promise because the Soul of the World has maintained his connection to Fatima. The Soul of the World, one and the same as the Soul of God, is a force of goodness and love in the universe. Just as this good force helped Santiago to achieve his Personal Legend, so too does it wish for the lovers to be reunited. The message of this novel overall, then, is one of positive empowerment. Despite the trials he faced, Santiago was never alone. He succeeded, even though the location of his treasure was different than he expected. He didn't have access to the full picture as God could see it, but he persisted in following the omens, which led to his success. This ending of this novel promises this possibility of fulfillment for everyone, by reminding the reader of the force of good at work in the world.