Last Updated September 5, 2023.
The Prophet is a book of twenty-six poetry fables. There are only two significant characters in these stories, Almustafa and Almitra.
Almustafa, seen by the townspeople as a prophet of God, has been living in the hills of Orphalese for twelve years. He has been serving the townspeople’s spiritual needs, while they have taken care of his physical needs. Almustafa has also been waiting for a ship that will take him back to his home.
When the ship arrives, Almustafa comes down from the hills to the temple in the city. He finds the prospect of leaving Orphalese and its people bittersweet. Many of the people have come to see him off, and he wonders what he can say to them. Following a suggestion from Almitra, he agrees to answer twenty-six questions the townspeople have about many subjects, including, love, marriage, children, beauty, friendship, good, evil, birth, and death. As Almustafa and his followers leave the temple and move down to the pier, he offers one final sermon and promises to return to the people in another incarnation.
Almitra is a seeress in the temple of Orphalese. She has been a supporter of Almustafa throughout the twelve years he has spent in her city. It is Almitra who encourages Almustafa to answer the townspeople’s questions before he departs and heads back home. She begins the questioning by asking him about love. She then encourages the townspeople to ask questions of their own. Almitra then asks the final question: what is the meaning of death? When Almustafa and the townspeople move down to the pier, Almitra makes one final blessing and watches his departure with tears in her eyes. She is the last one to speak to Almustafa before he leaves. Standing on the dock alone, she thinks about the prophet's final promise that he will return.