Why do you think Coelho used the title, The Alchemist? Explain and give evidence.

Expert Answers
tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Coelho's title seems to suggest that the main character is or eventually becomes an alchemist, but that does not end up being true. The alchemist in the story, though, does become Santiago's best and greatest teacher for teaching him how to decipher the language of the world and building confidence in his search to fulfill his personal legend. The alchemist uses the techniques of patience as well as skill in one's craft to teach the boy confidence and the will to continue on his journey till the end. While Santiago is talking with the sun, he comes to this realization:

"This is why alchemy exists, . . . So that everyone will search for his treasure, find it, and then want to be better than he was in his former life. . . That's what alchemists do. They show that when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too" (150).

The importance of the alchemist in Santiago's journey is shown as he directs the boy's final steps to finding his treasure. Everyone needs a good teacher, leader, and support in this way. In the end, the alchemist throws the boy into the proverbial refiner's fire by telling a warlord that he can turn himself into the wind. Santiago must use his talents and lessons that he's learned to follow through with his teacher's challenge. For this reason the title of the book is given to the teacher, the professor, and the master.