In Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, what do we learn about Melchizedek after he walks away? 

In Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, what do we learn about Melchizedek after he walks away?


Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The old man looked at the boy and, with his hands held together, made several strange gestures over the boy's head. Then, taking his sheep, he walked away" (32).

The above passage shows Melchizedek blessing Santiago as he starts his journey to discover his Personal Legend. The sheep that Melchizedek walks away with represent ten percent of Santiago's worldly possessions--payment for the king's advice and help. The next section following this scene shows Melchizedek standing atop an old fort that looks down on the port below. He is watching the boat that the boy is on drift out to sea. Coelho reveals at this time that Melchizedek is the same man to whom Abraham paid his one-tenth fee. The author also reveals the following:

"The gods should not have desires, because they don't have Personal Legends. But the king of Salem hoped desperately that the boy would be successful" (33).

From this passage, in can be inferred that Melchizedek is some type of god whose duty it is to help men realize their Personal Legends. In fact, he helped one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament, Abraham, to discover his Personal Legend. Not only does this date Melchizedek, but it also places him with one of the greatest men of all religious time. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all trace their roots back to Abraham, for example, so he is quite a religious figure to many people. Santiago is quite fortunate to have been helped and given advice from the king of Salem--the same one who helped one of the greatest prophets of all time. 

The last paragraph dedicated to Melchizedek before he leaves the story shows him talking to the Lord: "I know it's the vanity of vanities, as you said, my Lord. But an old king sometimes has to take some pride in himself" (33). He's speaking about how proud he is of the work he has done with Santiago. He also knows it is wrong, but he still hopes that the boy succeeds in discovering his Personal Legend.