In Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, what happens when Santiago follows his new friend to the marketplace in Tangier and what story does this echo?
Since Coelho's The Alchemist is a religious book, as well as a magical realism novel, it could be argued that the part where Santiago follows a new, strange friend into the marketplace in Tangier has connections to the Holy Bible. There are actually two stories that come to mind that might parallel what Santiago goes through when he puts his trust in man and God at this point in his life. The first story that could be compared to this part of The Alchemist is the parable of the Prodigal Son. In Jesus's tale, the young boy takes his inheritance and blows it by spending it on friends and fun. Now, Santiago doesn't do that exactly, but he does entrust his money to a stranger which subtly echoes this principle. On the other hand, the Old Testament has the story of Job who loses everything and is told by friends to curse God because of it. The connection to Job is made when Santiago loses his money to the stranger and he has many natural feelings, described by the following passage:
"He was so ashamed that he wanted to cry. He had never even wept in front of his own sheep. but the marketplace was empty, and he was far from home, so he wept. He wept because God was unfair, and because this was the way God repaid those who believed in their dreams"(39).
Many themes throughout the Bible and The Alchemist focus on what a person chooses to do when they are down and out. Will they curse God, give up, and surrender; or, will they pick themselves up and move forward with their faith and intelligence to guide them? One final parable that could be compared to Santiago's marketplace experience is that of The Good Samaritan when a good man is robbed and beaten on the road to Jericho. Santiago, therefore, is like a stranger traveling in a strange land who is then fallen upon by scoundrels and left for dead.