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When Santiago first sees the black

When Santiago first sees the black - , Matamoros,....

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When Santiago first sees the black-clad horseman, an image comes to his mind of Santiago  Matamoros, the Christian saint and slayer of Moors. Moors were the Muslim conquerors of the  Iberian Peninsula, which includes Andalusia, the shepherd boy's home. But in contrast to the classic image of Santiago Matamoros, in which St. James sits atop a horse, a  Moor beneath its hooves, here Santiago the shepherd boy, a Christian pilgrim, occupies the Moor's  place. In another twist, the terrifying man atop the white horse is none other than the alchemist for  whom the novel is named. The notion of this world as a poor copy of another, perfect world, comes from the philosophy of Plato,  in his famous parable of the cave. The alchemist identifies the cobra in the desert as a symbol of life. Traditionally, snakes also are  emblematic of male potency. The cobra's power may give Santiago the strength to return to Fatima 
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