In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, what does Santiago learn when he turns himself into the wind? Distinguish fact from fantasy in the lessons about life that Santiago discovers. 

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Santiago and the Alchemist are captured by a tribal chief, the mentor tells the chief that the boy can change himself into the wind in order to make a wager on their lives. Santiago gets three days to examine all that he's learned thus far on his journeys and figure out a way to accommodate his mentor's challenge. After speaking with the desert, the wind, and the sun, Santiago actually teaches them that the Soul of the World is love. He explains that love is the power through which anyone and anything can change. Since these beings did not know this, they tell him to ask the Hand that created everything to change him into the wind.


"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"(152).

Ultimately the boy realizes that he is one who can perform miracles; hence, he is able to transform himself into the wind and fly to the other side of the encampment. Basically, what he learns is the power to change through love exists inside all of us. That part about love being the force that can change us is true, but actually physically changing into the wind is pure fantasy. Other fantastical parts include the boy actually talking with the desert, the wind, and the sun; but, the principles about life, perseverance, and love are all true if we don't give up on our goals and dreams.

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The Alchemist

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