Alchemist by Paulo Coelho Summary Part 1

Alchemist by Paulo Coelho Summary Part 1

Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Summary comprehension)

Part One 

No. Page Question Answer
1. 2 Why did Santiago lay planks across the ruined gate? To stop his sheep from wandering away. 
2. 3 What did Santiago realise, after thinking for a moment? That rather than the sheep being accustomed to his schedule, he was becoming adjusted to the schedule of his sheep. 
3. 4 In the girl’s village, every day was very different. True or false? False: each day was like the others. 
4. 5 What feeling had Santiago never experienced before meeting the girl with the raven hair? The desire to live forever in one place. 
5. 6 Why does Santiago feel that his sheep have forgotten to rely on their own instincts? Because he leads them to nourishment. 
6. 7 How did Santiago learn how to read? His parents wanted him to become a priest, so he attended a seminary until the age of 16. 
7. 9 Why does Santiago’s father discourage him from travelling? Because the countryside of Andalucia is the bestl in the world, and its women are the most beautiful. 
8. 10 Why don’t Santiago’s sheep realise that they are on a new road every day? Because all they think about is food and water. 
9. 11 What is it that Santiago thinks makes life interesting? The possibility of having a dream come true. 
10. 12 Why did Santiago go to visit the old gypsy woman? He wanted her to interpret his dream. 
11. 12 What does the narrator think makes a shepherd’s life exciting?  Taking chances, with wolves and with drought. 
12. 13 Why did Santiago pause while explaining to the woman his dream? To see if the woman knew what Egyptian pyramids were. 
13. 14 What is it about the dream that allows the woman to interpret it? The dream is in the language of the world. 
14. 15 What happens, according to the narrator, when somebody sees the same people everyday? They become a part of the person’s life and they want the person to change. 
15. 16 What is Santiago reading about in his new book, while sitting on the bench? A burial scene on a snowy day. 
16. 18 The old man really likes the book Santiago is reading. True or false? False: the old man thinks that the book says the same thing as almost all books in the world say. 
17. 19 What does the old man answer that he does in Salem? The old man says that he is the king of Salem. 
18. 20 Why was Santiago momentarily blinded? Because something bright reflected from the old man’s chest. 
19. 21 How did the old man awe Santiago? He wrote the names of his parents, the name of his seminary, the name of the merchant’s daughter, and things he had never told anybody, in the sand of the plaza. 
20. 12 What does the old man say is the one great truth on this planet? That whenever you want to do something, that desire originated in the soul of the universe. 



When does the old man usually appear to people?

When people are about to give up their Personal Legends. 



What does the old man want in return for teaching Santiago about his treasure?

One tenth of his flock of sheep. 



What does Santiago resist telling the baker about?

That he should not give up on his Personal Legend. 



What made Santiago resist going to Africa while standing at the ticket window?

He remembered his flock of sheep. 



Why is it unimportant that one of the sheep is lame?

Because the lame sheep is the most intelligent, and it produces the most wool. 



How does the old man tell Santiago to find the treasure?

He must follow the omens that God prepared for him. 



In the story told by the old man, the lad, on entering the castle, saw a ‘hive of activity’ instead of a saintly man. Explain the metaphor here.  

The author is comparing the business of the castle with the business of a bee hive. 



What does the wise man tell the boy is the secret of happiness in the story told by the old man, and what does this mean?

That the secret of happiness is to see the wonders of the world without dropping the oil on the spoon. This means that to be happy is to travel and see the world but to never forget what remains important and doesn’t change. A shepherd ‘may like to travel, but he should never forget about his sheep’.



Why should the gods not have desires, according to the narrator?

Because they do not have Personal Legends. 



What is the name of the city Santiago has arrived at in Africa?




The narrator describes that Santiago’s tea tasted less bitter. Why do you think he chose to do that at this point?

Because Santiago was beginning to gain courage and confidence for his journey. 



Why is it impossible to order a glass of wine in this African country?

Because alcohol is against the country’s religion. 



Why is Tangier not like the rest of Africa?

Because it is a port city, and every port has its thieves. 



The narrator writes that Santiago ‘knew nothing about the customs of the strange land he was in’. What does this mean?

Santiago does not know the correct ways to behave in this foreign country. 



Why do you think Santiago might regret having looked at the beautiful sword for a few moments?

Because looking at the sword made Santiago distracted, which allowed his companion to disappear with his money. 



The narrator tells us that Santiago’s life completely changed in one day. Name two things that changed in Santiago’s life in that day. 

He was in a different country. He couldn’t speak the language. He was no longer a shepherd. He had no money. 



What does Santiago realise about the owner of the bar who was shouting at him? 

That he was warning him not to trust the man who stole Santiago’s money. 



What happens when Santiago asks the stones if he will find his treasure?

They fall onto the ground through a hole in his pouch. 



The narrator writes that Santiago ‘had not a cent in his pocket, but he had faith’. What does this mean?

Although he had no money, Santiago believed in himself in and his journey, which gave him confidence and strength. 



Why was the crystal merchant’s business worse than before?

Because the nearby city of Ceuta had grown faster than Tangier: the neighbours moved away and his shop was on the top of a hill that nobody wanted to walk up. 



Why did the crystal merchant laugh when Santiago said he needed enough money to get to Egypt?

Because it costs a lot of money to get to Egypt, more than one day’s pay. 



How does the reader know that Santiago has decided to return to his normal life at the end of Part One?

Because he tells the merchant that he needs money to buy some sheep.  

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