Reading THE ALCHEMIST in Quarantine

Treasure Is Not Always Gold 

We have always been told that life is not about the final destination or the accomplishments that are reached, but the journey that gets us there and the opportunities that are sought along the way. In Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, readers are enlightened by the same lesson. The ending of the novel provides an illuminating outlook on the true meaning of life and the realization that real treasure is not always made out of gold. Santiago may have been faced with hard obstacles along his quest, such as losing his fortunes and being beaten up, but he also learned a myriad of lessons about life, met Fatima, the love of his life, as well as many otherwise and knowledgeable people, including the alchemist. In retrospect, it shows that we have to deal with the rain to see a rainbow. The universe will not grant our deepest wishes and desires until certain tests are passed and hurdles are overcome. Santiago’s journey comes full circle, as he uncovers his treasure and reaches his Personal Legend right back at home in Spain.

Most times, our treasure is right under our nose, but it just takes time before it is revealed. In this case, Santiago has to travel across deserts until he is able to realize that his treasure is right back at home, where his heart lies. However, his true heart is still at the oasis with Fatima. The theme of love in this novel rises heavily to the surface after Santiago unveils his valuables; he feels a kiss from Fatima in the wind right before he announces that he is coming back for her. The alchemist told Santiago that his treasure is where his heart is— with Fatima. His true treasure was not what he dug up from under the ground, but who his heart opened up to and found love with. 

The theme of fate and free will is also protruded by the ending. Throughout the story, the idea of Maktub, “it is written”, is presented to Santiago and to the readers. In other words, all of our actions are already delineated for us, and our fate is outlined in the universe. Everything that Santiago experienced was for a reason and led him to the people and opportunities he was bound to have. Santiago could have let numerous rough paths throughout the journey separate him from his dream and his Personal Legend, but he persevered. His dream was so immense that nothing would stand in his way. He was destined to take that journey, fulfill his legend, and discover the Soul of the World. The fact that his jewels and coins were always close to home, drives the message that a spiritual journey is about finding oneself and realizing what truly matters in life.

Conclusively, Paulo Coelho mesmerized his readers by ending the book exactly where it started. The true meaning of this story comes to light at the end of Santiago’s journey, although, the beauty of it is that it is still up to the reader’s own interpretation. Santiago may have been on a physical quest to find treasure, but by the end of the story, we know that the true quest is within himself. The Alchemist is not merely about a boy pursuing his Personal Legend, but about a boy discovering facets about himself and his life over the course of a journey. By the end of the novel, we know that the true treasure in life is not always gold.

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