1st : Finals should be no more than 600 words (2-3 pages) double-spaced, 12 point, times new roman font.(attached PDF file)2nd : Following the viewing and subsequent discussion in class you will write a 2-3 page paper answering the following questions.
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Finals should be no more than 600 words (2-3 pages) double-spaced, 12 point, times new
Select one episode from The Alchemist and recount it in detail. You should summarize
the plot of the passage and state its meaning. Then, reflect on how this passage speaks to
you by giving a concrete example from your own, personal experience that is similar to
the one in the book. What lesson does this episode in The Alchemist teach you about your
life that you had not realized before? Finals will be evaluated on accuracyin relation to
the textclarityin relation to your own experienceand the appropriateness of the
example you choose in relation to the story.
Exit Through the Gift Shop Paper
In class, we will view the “documentary” film Exit Through the Gift Shop, a film by
Banksy. Following the viewing and subsequent discussion in class you will write a 23 page paper answering the following questions…
What is the true nature of art? How does consumerism affect art? Can art be
owned by a consumer? What is the difference between art and vandalism?
and finally…Is this all an elaborate prank? A fake? Did Banksy pull a fast one on all
of us, and if he did, what is he trying to say about art, politics, and society in
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 1 / 94
– Paulo Coelho
Translated by Alan R. Clarke. Published 1992.
= CONTENTS =
The boy’s name was Santiago. Dusk was falling as the boy arrived with his
herd at an abandoned church. The roof had fallen in long ago, and an
enormous sycamore had grown on the spot where the sacristy had once
He decided to spend the night there. He saw to it that all the sheep entered
through the ruined gate, and then laid some planks across it to prevent the
flock from wandering away during the night. There were no wolves in the
region, but once an animal had strayed during the night, and the boy had
had to spend the entire next day searching for it.
He swept the floor with his jacket and lay down, using the book he had just
finished reading as a pillow. He told himself that he would have to start
reading thicker books: they lasted longer, and made more comfortable
It was still dark when he awoke, and, looking up, he could see the stars
through the half-destroyed roof.
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 2 / 94
I wanted to sleep a little longer, he thought. He had had the same dream
that night as a week ago, and once again he had awakened before it ended.
He arose and, taking up his crook, began to awaken the sheep that still
slept. He had noticed that, as soon as he awoke, most of his animals also
began to stir. It was as if some mysterious energy bound his life to that of
the sheep, with whom he had spent the past two years, leading them
through the countryside in search of food and water. “They are so used to
me that they know my schedule,” he muttered. Thinking about that for a
moment, he realized that it could be the other way around: that it was he
who had become accustomed to their schedule.
But there were certain of them who took a bit longer to awaken. The boy
prodded them, one by one, with his crook, calling each by name. He had
always believed that the sheep were able to understand what he said. So
there were times when he read them parts of his books that had made an
impression on him, or when he would tell them of the loneliness or the
happiness of a shepherd in the fields. Sometimes he would comment to
them on the things he had seen in the villages they passed.
But for the past few days he had spoken to them about only one thing: the
girl, the daughter of a merchant who lived in the village they would reach in
about four days. He had been to the village only once, the year before. The
merchant was the proprietor of a dry goods shop, and he always demanded
that the sheep be sheared in his presence, so that he would not be
cheated. A friend had told the boy about the shop, and he had taken his
“I need to sell some wool,” the boy told the merchant.
The shop was busy, and the man asked the shepherd to wait until the
afternoon. So the boy sat on the steps of the shop and took a book from
“I didn’t know shepherds knew how to read,” said a girl’s voice behind him.
The girl was typical of the region of Andalusia, with flowing black hair, and
eyes that vaguely recalled the Moorish conquerors.
“Well, usually I learn more from my sheep than from books,” he answered.
During the two hours that they talked, she told him she was the merchant’s
daughter, and spoke of life in the village, where each day was like all the
others. The shepherd told her of the Andalusian countryside, and related the
news from the other towns where he had stopped. It was a pleasant change
from talking to his sheep.
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 3 / 94
“How did you learn to read?” the girl asked at one point.
“Like everybody learns,” he said. “In school.”
“Well, if you know how to read, why are you just a shepherd?”
The boy mumbled an answer that allowed him to avoid responding to her
question. He was sure the girl would never understand. He went on telling
stories about his travels, and her bright, Moorish eyes went wide with fear
and surprise. As the time passed, the boy found himself wishing that the
day would never end, that her father would stay busy and keep him waiting
for three days. He recognized that he was feeling something he had never
experienced before: the desire to live in one place forever. With the girl with
the raven hair, his days would never be the same again.
But finally the merchant appeared, and asked the boy to shear four sheep.
He paid for the wool and asked the shepherd to come back the following
And now it was only four days before he would be back in that same village.
He was excited, and at the same time uneasy: maybe the girl had already
forgotten him. Lots of shepherds passed through, selling their wool.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said to his sheep. “I know other girls in other places.”
But in his heart he knew that it did matter. And he knew that shepherds, like
seamen and like traveling salesmen, always found a town where there was
someone who could make them forget the joys of carefree wandering.
The day was dawning, and the shepherd urged his sheep in the direction of
the sun. They never have to make any decisions, he thought. Maybe that’s
why they always stay close to me.
The only things that concerned the sheep were food and water. As long as
the boy knew how to find the best pastures in Andalusia, they would be his
friends. Yes, their days were all the same, with the seemingly endless hours
between sunrise and dusk; and they had never read a book in their young
lives, and didn’t understand when the boy told them about the sights of the
cities. They were content with just food and water, and, in exchange, they
generously gave of their wool, their company, andonce in a whiletheir
If I became a monster today, and decided to kill them, one by one, they
would become aware only after most of the flock had been slaughtered,
thought the boy. They trust me, and they’ve forgotten how to rely on their
own instincts, because I lead them to nourishment.
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 4 / 94
The boy was surprised at his thoughts. Maybe the church, with the
sycamore growing from within, had been haunted. It had caused him to
have the same dream for a second time, and it was causing him to feel
anger toward his faithful companions. He drank a bit from the wine that
remained from his dinner of the night before, and he gathered his jacket
closer to his body. He knew that a few hours from now, with the sun at its
zenith, the heat would be so great that he would not be able to lead his
flock across the fields. It was the time of day when all of Spain slept during
the summer. The heat lasted until nightfall, and all that time he had to carry
his jacket. But when he thought to complain about the burden of its weight,
he remembered that, because he had the jacket, he had withstood the cold
of the dawn.
We have to be prepared for change, he thought, and he was grateful for the
jacket’s weight and warmth.
The jacket had a purpose, and so did the boy. His purpose in life was to
travel, and, after two years of walking the Andalusian terrain, he knew all the
cities of the region. He was planning, on this visit, to explain to the girl how
it was that a simple shepherd knew how to read. That he had attended a
seminary until he was sixteen. His parents had wanted him to become a
priest, and thereby a source of pride for a simple farm family. They worked
hard just to have food and water, like the sheep. He had studied Latin,
Spanish, and theology. But ever since he had been a child, he had wanted
to know the world, and this was much more important to him than knowing
God and learning about man’s sins. One afternoon, on a visit to his family,
he had summoned up the courage to tell his father that he didn’t want to
become a priest. That he wanted to travel.
“People from all over the world have passed through this village, son,” said
his father. “They come in search of new things, but when they leave they
are basically the same people they were when they arrived. They climb the
mountain to see the castle, and they wind up thinking that the past was
better than what we have now. They have blond hair, or dark skin, but
basically they’re the same as the people who live right here.”
“But I’d like to see the castles in the towns where they live,” the boy
“Those people, when they see our land, say that they would like to live here
forever,” his father continued.
“Well, I’d like to see their land, and see how they live,” said his son.
“The people who come here have a lot of money to spend, so they can
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 5 / 94
afford to travel,” his father said. “Amongst us, the only ones who travel are
“Well, then I’ll be a shepherd!”
His father said no more. The next day, he gave his son a pouch that held
three ancient Spanish gold coins.
“I found these one day in the fields. I wanted them to be a part of your
inheritance. But use them to buy your flock. Take to the fields, and someday
you’ll learn that our countryside is the best, and our women the most
And he gave the boy his blessing. The boy could see in his father’s gaze a
desire to be able, himself, to travel the worlda desire that was still alive,
despite his father’s having had to bury it, over dozens of years, under the
burden of struggling for water to drink, food to eat, and the same place to
sleep every night of his life.
The horizon was tinged with red, and suddenly the sun appeared. The boy
thought back to that conversation with his father, and felt happy; he had
already seen many castles and met many women (but none the equal of the
one who awaited him several days hence). He owned a jacket, a book that
he could trade for another, and a flock of sheep. But, most important, he
was able every day to live out his dream. If he were to tire of the Andalusian
fields, he could sell his sheep and go to sea. By the time he had had
enough of the sea, he would already have known other cities, other women,
and other chances to be happy. I couldn’t have found God in the seminary,
he thought, as he looked at the sunrise.
Whenever he could, he sought out a new road to travel. He had never been
to that ruined church before, in spite of having traveled through those parts
many times. The world was huge and inexhaustible; he had only to allow his
sheep to set the route for a while, and he would discover other interesting
things. The problem is that they don’t even realize that they’re walking a
new road every day. They don’t see that the fields are new and the seasons
change. All they think about is food and water.
Maybe we’re all that way, the boy mused. Even meI haven’t thought of
other women since I met the merchant’s daughter. Looking at the sun, he
calculated that he would reach Tarifa before midday. There, he could
exchange his book for a thicker one, fill his wine bottle, shave, and have a
haircut; he had to prepare himself for his meeting with the girl, and he didn’t
want to think about the possibility that some other shepherd, with a larger
flock of sheep, had arrived there before him and asked for her hand.
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 6 / 94
It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting,
he thought, as he looked again at the position of the sun, and hurried his
pace. He had suddenly remembered that, in Tarifa, there was an old woman
who interpreted dreams.
The old woman led the boy to a room at the back of her house; it was
separated from her living room by a curtain of colored beads. The room’s
furnishings consisted of a table, an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
and two chairs.
The woman sat down, and told him to be seated as well. Then she took
both of his hands in hers, and began quietly to pray.
It sounded like a Gypsy prayer. The boy had already had experience on the
road with Gypsies; they also traveled, but they had no flocks of sheep.
People said that Gypsies spent their lives tricking others. It was also said
that they had a pact with the devil, and that they kidnapped children and,
taking them away to their mysterious camps, made them their slaves. As a
child, the boy had always been frightened to death that he would be
captured by Gypsies, and this childhood fear returned when the old woman
took his hands in hers.
But she has the Sacred Heart of Jesus there, he thought, trying to reassure
himself. He didn’t want his hand to begin trembling, showing the old woman
that he was fearful. He recited an Our Father silently.
“Very interesting,” said the woman, never taking her eyes from the boy’s
hands, and then she fell silent.
The boy was becoming nervous. His hands began to tremble, and the
woman sensed it. He quickly pulled his hands away.
“I didn’t come here to have you read my palm,” he said, already regretting
having come. He thought for a moment that it would be better to pay her
fee and leave without learning a thing, that he was giving too much
importance to his recurrent dream.
“You came so that you could learn about your dreams,” said the old woman.
“And dreams are the language of God. When he speaks in our language, I
can interpret what he has said. But if he speaks in the language of the soul,
it is only you who can understand. But, whichever it is, I’m going to charge
you for the consultation.”
Another trick, the boy thought. But he decided to take a chance. A shepherd
always takes his chances with wolves and with drought, and that’s what
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 7 / 94
makes a shepherd’s life exciting.
“I have had the same dream twice,” he said. “I dreamed that I was in a field
with my sheep, when a child appeared and began to play with the animals. I
don’t like people to do that, because the sheep are afraid of strangers. But
children always seem to be able to play with them without frightening them.
I don’t know why. I don’t know how animals know the age of human
“Tell me more about your dream,” said the woman. “I have to get back to
my cooking, and, since you don’t have much money, I can’t give you a lot
“The child went on playing with my sheep for quite a while,” continued the
boy, a bit upset. “And suddenly, the child took me by both hands and
transported me to the Egyptian pyramids.”
He paused for a moment to see if the woman knew what the Egyptian
pyramids were. But she said nothing.
“Then, at the Egyptian pyramids,”he said the last three words slowly, so
that the old woman would understand”the child said to me, If you come
here, you will find a hidden treasure.’ And, just as she was about to show
me the exact location, I woke up. Both times.”
The woman was silent for some time. Then she again took his hands and
studied them carefully.
“I’m not going to charge you anything now,” she said. “But I want one-tenth
of the treasure, if you find it.”
The boy laughedout of happiness. He was going to be able to save the
little money he had because of a dream about hidden treasure!
“Well, interpret the dream,” he said.
“First, swear to me. Swear that you will give me one-tenth of your treasure
in exchange for what I am going to tell you.”
The shepherd swore that he would. The old woman asked him to swear
again while looking at the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“It’s a dream in the language of the world,” she said. “I can interpret it, but
the interpretation is very difficult. That’s why I feel that I deserve a part of
what you find.
“And this is my interpretation: you must go to the Pyramids in Egypt. I have
never heard of them, but, if it was a child who showed them to you, they
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 8 / 94
exist. There you will find a treasure that will make you a rich man.”
The boy was surprised, and then irritated. He didn’t need to seek out the old
woman for this! But then he remembered that he wasn’t going to have to
“I didn’t need to waste my time just for this,” he said.
“I told you that your dream was a difficult one. It’s the simple things in life
that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.
And since I am not wise, I have had to learn other arts, such as the reading
“Well, how am I going to get to Egypt?”
“I only interpret dreams. I don’t know how to turn them into reality. That’s
why I have to live off what my daughters provide me with.”
“And what if I never get to Egypt?”
“Then I don’t get paid. It wouldn’t be the first time.”
And the woman told the boy to leave, saying she had already wasted too
much time with him.
So the boy was disappointed; he decided that he would never again believe
in dreams. He remembered that he had a number of things he had to take
care of: he went to the market for something to eat, he traded his book for
one that was thicker, and he found a bench in the plaza where he could
sample the new wine he had bought. The day was hot, and the wine was
refreshing. The sheep were at the gates of the city, in a stable that
belonged to a friend. The boy knew a lot of people in the city. That was
what made traveling appeal to himhe always made new friends, and he
didn’t need to spend all of his time with them. When someone sees the
same people every day, as had happened with him at the seminary, they
wind up becoming a part of that person’s life. And then they want the
person to change. If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others
become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people
should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.
He decided to wait until the sun had sunk a bit lower in the sky before
following his flock back through the fields. Three days from now, he would
be with the merchant’s daughter.
He started to read the book he had bought. On the very first page it
described a burial ceremony. And the names of the people involved were
very difficult to pronounce. If he ever wrote a book, he thought, he would
present one person at a time, so that the reader wouldn’t have to worry
Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
Page 9 / 94
about memorizing a lot of names.
When he was finally able to concentrate on what he was reading, he liked
the book better; the burial was on a snowy day, and he welcomed the
feeling of being cold. As he read on, an old man sat down at his side and
tried to strike up a conversation.
“What are they doing?” the old man asked, pointing at the people in the
“Working,” the boy answered dryly, making it look as if he wanted to
concentrate on his reading.
Actually, he was thinking about shearing his sheep in front of the
merchant’s daughter, so that she could see that he was someone who was
capable of doing difficult things. He ha …
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