What techniques does Paulo Coelho use to start the parts in the alchemist?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

At both the beginning of parts one and two of the novel, Coelho uses summary to put us in the scene and raise our interest in Santiago's life. In part one, he uses swift strokes to let us know, simply and quickly, the contours of Santiago's life: that he is a shepherd, that he likes to read, that he is sensitive to the needs of his sheep, and that he is in love with girl—and most importantly that he dreams:

He had had the same dream that night as a week ago, and once again he had awakened before it ended.

But Coelho doesn't merely narrate this from afar: he weaves it into the actions that Santiago is performing at a specific time, such as arriving as the sun is setting an abandoned church and deciding to sleep there. This allows Coehlo to provide a wealth of descriptive details that set us at the scene, such as Santagio brushing the floor off with his jacket and sleeping using his books as a pillow. This brings us up close to Santiago and makes us feel as if we are in the scene with him. So, at one time, Coelho gives important information and begins to build our relationship with the protagonist. The introduction of dreams shows they are thematically important to this section.

At the beginning of part two, Coelho also uses summary, telling us that Santiago has been at the crystal merchant's for a month and isn't altogether happy there. However, as in the first part, Coelho quickly pulls us into the action, this time through the use of dialogue between the merchant and Santiago. This shows that Santiago is still quite interested in omens and that the merchant believes in them too, even thinking of Santiago as an omen. This establishes omens as an important theme for the second part.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial