The Alchemist Symbolism

The Desert

The Desert Interpretation:

Repeatedly in The Alchemist, the desert acts both as a challenge to Santiago and a teacher. It poses threats, such as the wars, but the desert also teaches Santiago to understand the Language of the World as he spends more and more time contemplating it. He uses this knowledge to communicate with different elements in this scene, including the desert itself, the wind, and the sun. The desert serves as a challenge and test when Santiago has to travel through it and face the silence and the same scenery the whole way across.

Said by the camel driver, “Once you get into the desert, there’s no going back,” said the camel driver. “And, when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward. The rest is up to Allah, including the danger.” (81) What he is talking about is the danger in the desert and what challenges Santiago will face.

Furthermore, the desert also plays the role as a teacher as Santiago travels through it because he learns new things. The alchemist shares with him "… you are in the desert. So immerse yourself in it. The desert will give you an understanding of the world; in fact, anything on the face of the earth will do that. You don’t even have to understand the desert: all you have to do is contemplate a simple grain of sand, and you will see in it all the marvels of creation.” (134)


The Alchemist can connect to Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) because they both had to overcome their personal difficulties. MLK's dream was to have equality for all of the black people. While Santiago's dream differed from MLK's, they both still needed to overcome many challenges to accomplish their dreams. Santiago's dream was to find his treasure by the pyramids, and it took him on a very long journey, just like MLK. Santiago's toughest challenge was traveling through the desert; while MLK's was facing all of the racism and segregation. Even though MLK was killed, his dream was still carried on through the people. MLK wasn't here to see how far the nation has come, his dream was still fulfilled through hard work and determination.


Connection cont.

Another connection we made to Santiago overcoming his challenges was with Edmond from The Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond faced many challenges just like Santiago. Unlike Edmond's journey, Santiago's journey didn't take more than a decade to finish. Some of Edmond's challenges he had to face were escaping from jail, returning to his country, and overlooking betrayal from his "best friend, and the love of his life". Both Santiago and Edmond also had many people that helped them achieve their goals throughout their entire lives, which connects them in many more ways. Edmond, Santiago, and MLK worked hard, never gave up, and every one of their Personal Legends came true.   

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