What is the climax of the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The climax of a story is when the story is most intense, either emotionally or physically, a final decision must be made, and the resolution of the story follows soon after. For Santiago in "The Alchemist," the climax is when he achieves his master work. For an alchemist, the master work is to be able to turn certain metals into gold. The Alchemist explains to Santiago that another example of the master work was when God finished creating the earth after six days. Up until the point that the Alchemist and Santiago are captured by a war lord and his gang, Santiago thought achieving his Personal Legend was all he had to do. To his surprise, the Alchemist gambles their lives with the bet that Santiago can turn into the wind. After Santiago uses his ability to talk with nature and listen to omens, he speaks with the Desert, the Wind, and the Sun to obtain their input and help. This communication with the elements is his master work that eventually helps him to create an optical illusion to make the warring tribe think he actually turned into the wind and ended up on the other side of the valley or camp. After that, their lives are saved and Santiago can go find his treasure.

teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The climatic moment comes when Santiago and the Alchemist are kidnapped by the general and his gang of outlaws. The Alchemist tells the warlord general that Santiago can turn into the wind. This distresses Santiago, who, of course, does not know how to turn himself into the wind, and yet also knows he will die if he does not succeed. It is a suspenseful moment: will Santiago die now, when he has struggled so hard to achieve his Personal Legend? How will he get out of this fix? The Alchemist tells him that it is better to die pursuing one's Personal Legend than to go through life not even knowing one has a Personal Legend, but that does not solve his problem.

When put to the test, Santiago musters his will, makes a deal with the elements, and has the realization as he is transforming himself that all things are one. As he accomplishes his task, he feels a great sense of love come over him. This climatic test has been part of his spiritual journey.