The Alchemist | Study Guide

Paulo Coelho

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Course Hero’s video study guide provides in-depth summary and analysis of the Epilogue of Paulo Coelho's novel The Alchemist.

The Alchemist | Epilogue | Summary



Santiago ventures back across the desert and on to Andalusia, arriving at the abandoned church at nightfall. The church and sycamore tree look just as he remembers them, and he sits for a while, sipping wine, taking in the night sky and reflecting on his journey. He falls asleep, awakening the next morning to dig at the roots of the tree.

While he digs, Santiago calls out to the alchemist, "You old sorcerer. You knew the whole story. You even left a bit of gold at the monastery so I could get back to this church." A voice in the wind responds, telling Santiago that he would not have seen the beautiful pyramids if he'd known the truth about this treasure.

Half an hour later, Santiago's shovel hits something solid in the ground, and he unearths a treasure chest filled with Spanish coins, precious jewels, and other gleaming valuables. He adds to the treasure two stones given to him by Melchizedek, which the old king called Urim and Thummim. He then remembers that he needs to visit the gypsy woman and give her one-tenth of the valuables, as he promised.

The wind begins to blow, carrying the smell of perfume and a kiss from far away. He knows at once that these are omens from Fatima and vows to return to her.


Santiago's return to the ruined church and the sycamore tree represents two final steps in the hero's journey: the ultimate boon, and the crossing of the return threshold. Santiago has achieved the goal of his quest. In the epilogue, the novel paints a picture of a patient, reflective Santiago. He doesn't immediately start digging for his treasure; instead, he contemplates the steps of the journey toward his Personal Legend. He thinks about his adventure and the people he met along the way, immersing himself in nature and the night sky, just as he did in the desert.

Though Santiago questioned and doubted his decisions at the start of his journey, he is, at this point, far more certain of his purpose and much happier and at ease. He laughs at the thought of the alchemist knowing the location of his treasure all along—"You old sorcerer," he calls out amiably. And he smiles at the thought of Fatima.

Even though Santiago finds his treasure, he views the life lessons he learned along the way as much more valuable. In this sense, his journey hasn't ended. It's only begun.

The Alchemist is an allegory on the purpose of life. The novel contrasts people who realize and fulfill their purpose with those who allow themselves to be sidetracked and don't achieve their goals. Once Santiago recognizes his purpose—his Personal Legend—he vacillates in his pursuit, but he ultimately succeeds. Other characters—Santiago's father and the crystal merchant, for example—recognize their Personal Legends but choose not to pursue them.

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