Student Question

What events in The Alchemist appear magical or supernatural?

Expert Answers

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The Alchemist is a book that contains magical realism. Magical realism is a literary technique that intricately blends reality with fantasy. If you are looking for a quick and easy set of examples that show magical or supernatural elements within the text, then look in the final sections of the book. It is here that Santiago is able to speak to nature itself. Santiago speaks with the desert, the wind, and the sun. He tries to convince those mystical beings or forces to help him, but even the sun doesn't know how exactly to help Santiago. Santiago then prays and realizes that his soul is a part of the Soul of God, and he can do miracles as well.

Another magical element of the story is the alchemist and alchemy. Alchemy is/was a magical and/or scientific process of turning various metals (like lead) into gold. It is not possible, but Paulo Coelho has the Alchemist do it soon after Santiago is released.

A third magical and supernatural piece of this book is the Urim and Thummim. Historically, these are stones that prophets used to interpret various revelations from divine entities. In The Alchemist, the King of Salem, Melchizedek, gives Santiago the stones and tells Santiago that he should use them when he is unable to read the omens. The stones will then help Santiago do that:

They are called Urim and Thummim. The black signifies "yes," and the white "no." When you are unable to read the omens, they will help you to do so. Always ask an objective question.

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