The Alchemist opens with the story of Santiago, a young shepherd, on his way to a small village in search of love. However Santiago's travels take a turn after he has a dream interpreted and learns that treasure is in his life's path. The reader travels with Santiago on his journey toward destiny and is treated to some valuable lessons in wisdom.
This story also gives the reader an opportunity to examine themselves while introducing them to the idea of finding their own Personal Legend.
What is a Personal Legend? It's that thing that you have always wanted to accomplish. I'm certain many of you that read and host blogs can relate to that.
For the purposes of this review, I would like to entertain some of the questions included at the conclusion of the book as well as some of the nuggets that have been sprinkled throughout the story. Feel free to explore any missed elements contained within the pages we are discussing in the comment section as well.
We will cover pages 1 - 24. I know these may different depending on how your book is laid out, but this is the story up to the point that Santiago is introduced to the idea of a Personal Legend and he is debating whether to give The Old Man one-tenth of his flock.
Discussion Questions: Cover anyone you like or all of them.
In the Prologue, the alchemist reads a version of the story of the death of Narcissus that has a somewhat different ending from the traditional telling, one that emphasizes the grief of the lake into which Narcissus will no longer be looking at his reflection. In beginning the book with this story, what themes and relationships is Coelho telling us to watch for throughout Santiago's story? Do you think there may be an element of "narcissism" in the pursuit of one's Personal Legend?
Early in the story, Santiago recounts a discussion with the Merchant's daughter with whom he is enchanted. During the discussion she questions that if he is as intelligent as he appears, why is he simply a shepherd. Are you currently in a job that, to those looking from the outside, defies conventional wisdom? How is that job keeping you from fulfilling your Personal Legend?
Santiago was four days away from arriving at the village of the Merchant's daughter and he experiences excitement and unrest. He proposes that maybe the girl had already forgotten about him and that he was just one of many passing Shepherds. His response to his unrest is, "It doesn't matter, I know other girls in other places." Do you find that it is easier for you to let go of your dreams as opposed to holding on to them and having faith? How does your position make you feel?
Do you believe in the following statement, why or why not? At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what's happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. What is this statement called in the book?
The Old Man tells Santiago that "Treasure is uncovered by the force of flowing water, and it is buried by the same currents." What does this statement say to you?
There is so much more in those first 24 pages, so if I didn't hit a point that you'd like to discuss, by all means, bring it up in the comments. The floor is now yours.