Santiago and The Desert

By- Gabbi Dubansky, Amy Johnson, and Quinn Fox

Quotes

“No matter how many detours and adjustments it made, the caravan moved towards the same compass point. Once obstacles were overcome, it returned to its course…” -75

“I have watched the caravan as it crossed the desert," he said. "The caravan and the desert speak the same language, and it's for that reason that the desert allows the crossing. It's going to test the caravan's every step to see if it's in time, and, if it is, we will make it to the oasis"

"Show me where there is life out in the desert. Only those who can see such signs of life are able to find treasure."

“Someone might one day plant trees in the desert, and even raise sheep there, but never would they harness the wind.”

“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”

What Does the desert symbolize and how does it enhance the story?

The symbolism of the desert really start to appear during part 2 of the novel, when Santiago crosses the desert. The desert symbolizes many hardships and challenges as Santiago is crossing the desert and even after he has crossed it. While Santiago is crossing the desert he meets The Englishman who teaches Santiago a few very important lessons as well as just being Santiago's friend.

The desert though not only serves as a symbol, it also adds a mysterious feeling to the text, as well as adding 'flavor'. Without the desert the story would be very bland as Santiago wouldn't have to face any challenges. Such as almost being killed, almost giving up on his dream, as well as others. Overall the desert makes the story interesting and makes the plot line more connectable to various types of people.

Though there were many characters in the book that teach Santiago lessons, the desert teaches him lessons too, a few are...

  • The desert made Santiago, as well as others, appreciate things like the oasis more because they spent so much time in the desert.
  • Santiago learned that he had to focus on the present moment, and not live in the past or his future.

Lessons

Though there were many characters in the book that teach Santiago lessons, the desert teaches him lessons too, a few are...

  • The desert made Santiago, as well as others, appreciate things like the oasis because they spent so much time in the vacant land
  • Santiago learned that he had to focus on the present moment, and not live in the past or his future.
  • You are unable to learn everything from books, you must experience things too.
  • Don't be so involved in yourself that you miss opportunities and the chance to meet people.

The desert taught Santiago many things that helped him along the journey and will continue to help him for years to come.

The real world

The desert has a very specific meaning in The Alchemist, but that doesn't mean that it can't have meaning else where too! There are many other ways that this symbol (hardships and challenges) is used in both the real world and fictional world today. A few examples would include, but are not limited to...

  • Aladdin- Aladdin too faces the challenges of the desert but does, unlike Santiago find his treasure there; however his treasure ended up causing him more harm than good (like Santiago).
  • Society- For people today (especially our age) society is the desert, and places many challenges in our life. Just like how Santiago had to figure out how to speak the language of the world, learn how to enter the unknown, and learn along the way. We must do this too.
  • TKAM- Santiago faced a major challenge along his quest. He met people that had different opinions and learned from them. Similarly, Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird had to face his own desert, the courtroom full of close-minded people who had their minds set against him. Atticus used the truth and evidence to prove his point, and the world conspired with him to bring justice. His conscious kept him from giving up a case he was most likely going to lose anyways, just like how the world conspired with Santiago to help him along his journey, and keep him from giving up.
  • The Spectacular Now- Santiago learns to live in the present and not in the past. If he can do so he will be much happier in life. Overall the message is conveyed in the book The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp. Sutter fully believes that everyone should live in the now and not in the past or the future and he shares this over and over again throughout the book. The Camel Driver seems to believe this too and shares this with those he meets while crossing the desert.

Overall

  • The desert represents challenges and hardships
  • The desert and winds taught Santiago many life long lessons
  • The symbol of the desert can connect to the real life world

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