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Born in 1947, Brazilian author Paulo Coelho is one of the bestselling authors in the world. He has sold over 115 million copies of his books in more than 160 countries. Growing up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Coelho developed an interest in writing as a teenager. Coelho’s parents discouraged his dream of becoming a writer and wanted him to follow a more traditional path.

 

Coelho abandoned his dream of becoming a writer in order to follow his parent’s wishes and enroll in law school. However, he dropped out after and traveled extensively. The influence of Coelho’s life experience can be seen in Santiago’s journey to achieve his Personal Legend, or destiny, in The Alchemist. Coelho wrote The Alchemist in only two weeks in 1987, saying that the story was already written in his soul. The book, originally written in Portuguese, has been translated into more than 70 languages, making Coelho one of the most translated authors of all time.

The alchemist is an allegorical story that follows Santiago, a Spanish shepherd boy, as he travels through the Saharan desert to search for treasure at the Egyptian Pyramids. The book begins when Santiago spends the night in a deserted church with an old Sycamore growing in the middle of it. The boy dreams a recurring dream in which a child takes him to the Egyptian Pyramids and tells him that there he will find his treasure. Santiago remembers there is a woman in a nearby town called Tarifa who is known for interpreting dreams. He takes his flock to the town and goes to see this gypsy woman. In exchange for one-tenth of the boy’s future treasure, the woman tells him that he must pursue his dream.

 

In Tarifa Santiago meets an old man named Melchizedek who writes things in the sand about Santiago’s life that he could not possibly have known. Melchizedek says he is the king of Salem and that he has come to encourage Santiago to follow his Personal Legend, or the thing he wants to accomplish in life. The old man explains that there is a thing called the Soul of the World, which is nourished by people’s happiness and emotions. He gives Santiago two stones called Urim and Thummim to help him read the omens that will guide him to his treasure.

 

Santiago sells his sheep and takes a boat to Tangier. There he meets a Spanish-speaking young man who offers to serve as his guide on the way to Egypt. The man ends up stealing all of Santiago’s money, leaving him penniless in a strange land. Santiago asks his stones Urim and Thummim whether he will find his treasure but does not get a clear response. He remembers that he is supposed to make his own decisions and so he seeks employment at a crystal shop at the top of a hill in Tangier. Santiago works for the crystal merchant for almost a year. By this time, his quest to find treasure in Egypt is nothing but a distant, painful memory. All he wants is to return to his life as a shepherd in Spain. However, the crystal merchant changes Santiago’s mind by telling him that he is destined to follow his dreams.

 

Santiago joins a caravan crossing the desert. On the caravan, he meets an Englishman interested in alchemy. A tribal war starts in the desert so the caravan seeks refuge at an oasis. There, the Englishman searches for a famous alchemist who supposedly knows how to turn lead to gold. Santiago falls in love with a young woman named Fatima. Fatima encourages him to continue with his Personal Legend and return to her after. Santiago has a vision that enemies will attack the oasis. He tells the tribal chieftain, and the oasis adds extra defense. Santiago’s vision comes true but because of the precautions the oasis community is saved. The chieftain gives Santiago gold as a reward.

 

Santiago and the alchemist head into the desert so that Santiago can continue with his destiny. The journey is dangerous, and Santiago loses all of his gold when tribesmen rob the travelers. The alchemist takes Santiago to a monastery to stay with a Coptic monk. The alchemist melts lead and turns it into gold. He leaves some of the gold at the monastery in case Santiago loses his fortune again and sends the boy on his way to search for treasure. Santiago is robbed again and attacked by two men as he digs by the Pyramids for his treasure. Just when the boy is about to pass out one of his attackers mentions that this is what he gets for following his dreams. The man dreamed of treasure under a sycamore tree and ignored it. Santiago returns back to Spain to the ancient church where he began his journey. There he finds a chest of Spanish coins. He has fulfilled his Personal Legend by traveling far and wide and sets out to return to Fatima at the oasis.

Santiago

The protagonist of the story, Santiago is a shepherd boy from Andalusia who follows his dream of searching for treasure at the Pyramids in Egypt.

 

The Gypsy Woman

A fortuneteller in Tarifa who interprets Santiago’s dream about finding treasure at the Pyramids in exchange for one-tenth of his treasure.

 

Melchizedek

The King of Salem, Melchizedek is a prophetic old man who tells Santiago to follow his Personal Legend. He gives Santiago Urim and Thummim so that he might have guidance in reading omens.

 

The Thief

The thief is Spanish-speaking man who befriends Santiago in a bar in Tangier. The man later steals Santiago’s money by holding his money purse for him and losing him in a crowded market.

 

The Crystal Merchant

The owner of a crystal shop, the merchant hires Santiago as an employee after Santiago offers to clean all the crystal for him. Santiago works for the merchant for a year, initiating many changes that improve the business.

 

The Englishman

A student of alchemy, the Englishman is looking for a famous alchemist in the Al-Fayoum oasis who can turn lead into gold. Although initially standoffish, the Englishman befriends Santiago on a caravan through the desert, and the two discuss such topics as alchemy and omens.

 

The Camel Driver

The leader of the caravan, the camel driver guides the group through the treacherous desert to the Al-Fayoum Oasis. He tells Santiago that if you can concentrate on living only in the present, you can live a happy life.

 

The Alchemist

A mysterious and powerful alchemist who lives in the Al-Fayoum Oasis, the alchemist is in-tune with the Soul of the World and the powers of the universe. He eventually takes Santiago on as a disciple and guides him to the Pyramids.

 

Fatima

A girl whom Santiago sees at a well in the oasis and immediately falls in love with. Fatima tells Santiago that he must continue his journey to fulfill his Personal Legend; she is a desert woman and desert women are used to their men leaving and returning.

 

The Coptic Monk

The alchemist takes Santiago to see the Coptic monk on their way to the Pyramids. The Coptic monk shares his hospitality with the visitors and holds onto a piece of treasure for Santiago in case he loses his fortune for a third time.

The Personal Legend

In The Alchemist, Santiago sets out to achieve his Personal Legend, or his destiny. An old king named Melchizedek explains to Santiago that to realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation. Everything on earth has its own destiny. A personal legend can also be described as the thing that a person is meant to accomplish. Coelho’s emphasis on the personal legend throughout the entire novel demonstrates the significance of going after your dreams and following what your heart says is the right path for you rather than what is easy or comfortable.

 

Universal Language

When Santiago arrives in Tangier, he communicates with a candy seller in the marketplace. Even though the candy seller speaks Arabic and Santiago speaks Spanish, Santiago finds that the two are still able to get their messages across. From this, he learns that there must be a language that is not dependent on verbal words. Rather, people can understand each other by examining their respective hearts and desires and learning to listen for other kinds of communication.

 

The Soul of the World

The soul of the world is a somewhat ambiguous concept that is referenced throughout the novel. The old king Santiago meets tells him that the soul of the world is nourished by people’s happiness but also by unhappiness, jealousy, and greed. The Englishman explains to Santiago that, in alchemy, the soul of the world is the principle that governs all things. As Santiago continues his journey he becomes more in tune with the soul of the world and connects with his environment and the universe in order to achieve his personal legend.

 

The Secret to Happiness

The idea of happiness is a theme in The Alchemist that is tied to the idea of a personal legend. In general, most people attain happiness when they achieve the thing they want most out of life. However throughout his journeys Santiago learns different ways in which people achieve happiness. The crystal merchant, for example, is happy dreaming his dreams but doesn’t want to fulfill them. In the desert, the camel driver of the caravan tells Santiago that, for him, the secret to happiness is not focusing on the future or past but living only in the present. Santiago learns that happiness is complicated and multifaceted but that it is achievable through faith in your destiny and purpose.

 

Decisions

In his search for treasure, Santiago is faced with many weighty and life-altering choices, such as deciding whether or not to sell his sheep and travel to Africa in pursuit of his dream. The old king gives Santiago two stones, Urim and Thummim, to guide him in his decision-making and in reading omens. Urim represent ‘yes’ and Thummim represents ‘no.’ Despite giving this gift, Melchizedek encourages Santiago to make his own decisions whenever possible, stressing the importance of independence. You cannot achieve your personal legend unless you are doing it for your reasons alone.

 

Religion

Religion serves as a backdrop for the entire novel, and many of Santiago’s experiences can be considered allegorical. The Bible is referenced at several points throughout the novel, from the conversation with Melchizedek to the story of Joseph and his dreams to the interactions with the Coptic monk at the monastery. All of the Arabs Santiago meets in the desert also express a strong faith in Allah and destiny. In the end, Santiago finds his treasure in the exact place he first dreamed of it, under a large sycamore tree in an abandoned church. Santiago’s journey to achieve his destiny shows that religion can take many forms, but it is necessary to trust in your sense of purpose and connection to a higher power.

 

Travel/Adventure

Santiago originally sets out in search of treasure, but as he continues his journey it becomes clear that part of his Personal Legend is to explore new parts of the world and see things he has never seen before. The crystal merchant tells Santiago that he is a person who wants to reach his dreams while some people just want to dream them. Santiago learns that a wandering life can be both enriching and isolating. While he does not regret any of the choices he makes, he learns that travelers always seem to be missing the people they leave behind in various places. Still, there is nothing more fulfilling than continually learning and experiencing firsthand what the world has to offer.

 

Maktub

The crystal merchant introduces Santiago to the word maktub, an Arabic term that is difficult to describe but translate roughly to ‘it is written.’ Essentially, maktub expresses the idea of destiny and conveys that something is meant to be. Destiny is extremely beneficial to Santiago, as is the idea of omens. When something goes wrong or Santiago’s plans change, he considers it maktub.

 

Love

When Santiago first sees Fatima it feels as if the soul of the world is pulsing through him. Such is the intensity of falling in love with your soul mate. Once Santiago meets Fatima his whole world changes. He says that she is more pertinent to him than any other treasure he could find. Still, Fatima encourages Santiago to leave her in order to continue with his journey. She explains to Santiago that love does not need to possessive and that it should never keep you from accomplishing what you are meant to accomplish.

 

The Principle of Favorability

Also known as beginner’s luck, the principle of favorability is the idea that when you want something bad enough, the whole universe conspires to help you achieve it. The old king introduces this idea to Santiago as he begins his journey. Essentially, the principle of favorability expresses the concept that luck is on the side of those who want it the most; if you do everything in your power to achieve your destiny, the world will help you, as well.

The book begins when the alchemist picks up a book left behind by another member of the caravan. In the book is the legend of Narcissus—a young man so obsessed with his own beauty that he stared into the lake every day to contemplate his beauty. One day Narcissus fell into the lake and drowned. In the book the alchemist picks up, however, the story has a different ending: after Narcissus dies, the goddesses of the forest appear at the lake, which has transformed into a lake of saltwater tears. The goddesses ask the lake why he weeps. The lake replies that he weeps for Narcissus; the goddesses assume that this is because the lake alone could contemplate Narcissus’s beauty every day. After a long time, the lake replies that he weeps, not because of the loss of Narcissus’s beauty but because each time Narcissus knelt by the banks, the lake saw his own beauty reflected. The alchemist thinks that this is a lovely story.

Part I begins with a shepherd boy named Santiago who decides to spend the night in an abandoned church in the Andalusian countryside of Spain. The church has a sycamore tree growing through it. Santiago wakes early the next morning, noting that he has had the same dream he dreamt the previous week. Santiago thinks about how in the past two years he has grown accustomed to the schedule of his sheep.

 

Being a shepherd can be a lonely life so sometimes Santiago talks to his sheep. Lately, all he has been telling them is about a merchant girl who lives in the village Santiago will reach in around four days. Santiago visited the same village a year before to sell wool to a merchant. As the shepherd waited for the merchant to come out, the merchant’s daughter sat with him on the steps. The girl was beautiful with dark hair and Moorish eyes. She was impressed that Santiago could read and traveled so much. Over the past year, Santiago has not been able to stop thinking about this girl.

 

As Santiago approaches the village he thinks about his sheep. All they ever worry about is food and water, and they trust Santiago so fully that even if he started to kill them one by one they would hardly notice. Santiago is surprised at his own thoughts and thinks maybe the sycamore in the church where he slept was cursed. He decides to stop in a town on the way where he knows there is a woman who interprets dreams. The boy has been traveling in Andalusia for two years now. He attended a seminary until he was sixteen but had wanted to see the world since he was a child. Finally, he convinced his father to let him be a shepherd so that he could travel from place to place.

 

The boy arrives in the town and goes to the old gypsy woman’s house. She starts to read Santiago’s palms but this makes him nervous so he asks her to just focus on his recurring dream. The old woman says that dreams are a way for god to communicate with us. Some dreams speak our language, but some speak the language of the soul. Santiago explains his dream: there is a child playing with his sheep for a while. Suddenly the child takes Santiago by both hands and transports him to the Egyptian pyramids. At the pyramid, the child says there is a hidden treasure. But just as the child is about to reveal the exact location, Santiago always wakes up. Santiago has no money to pay for the gypsy woman’s interpretation so she makes him swear to her he will give her one tenth of the treasure when he finds it. Santiago agrees. The woman tells Santiago her interpretation, which is merely that he should go to Egypt where he will find a treasure.

 

Santiago leaves the gypsy woman disappointed and vows never to believe in dreams again. He goes to the plaza to start reading a new book but is interrupted by an old man who keeps trying to strike up a conversation. The man tells Santiago that his book is paramount but irritating. It talks about people’s inability to choose their own Personal Legends. It also says everyone believes the world’s greatest lie, which according to the old man is that, at a certain point in our lives, we lose control and give our lives up to fate.

 

The man tells Santiago that his name is Melchizedek and that he is the king of Salem. He then asks Santiago to give up one tenth of his sheep. In return, Melchizedek will tell Santiago how to find the hidden treasure. Santiago remembers his dream, but before he can respond the old man starts writing in the sand. He writes things about Santiago’s life that he could not possibly have known and that Santiago has never told anyone. The king tells Santiago that he has succeeded in discovering his Personal Legend, which is the thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish. The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness but also by unhappiness and jealousy. To realize your destiny is a person’s only real obligation in the world. The man says he will come back to the plaza the next day to claim one tenth of Santiago’s sheep and tell him about the treasure.

When the old man leaves Santiago tries to read his book again but finds he can no longer concentrate. Instead, he decides to take a walk through the whole city and realizes that he truly wants to enter the unknown to seek gold and adventure. Santiago ends up at his friend’s stable where his friend agrees to buy Santiago’s sheep from him. The next day Santiago meets the old man at noon, bringing him the one tenth of Santiago’s flock that he did not sell. He tells the old man about what good fortune it was that someone was willing to buy his sheep. The old man tells Santiago that he is experiencing the principle of favorability, or beginner’s luck.

 

After the sheep are exchanged the old man tells Santiago that he can find his treasure in Egypt, near the Pyramids. According to the man, God has created a path for everyone to follow. In order to find his treasure, Santiago will have to follow the omens. The old man opens his cape, showing a breastplate made of gold and jewels. The man takes two of the stones out of his breastplate and gives them to Santiago. He explains that the black stone is called Urim and signifies ‘yes,’ while the white stone is called Thummim and signifies ‘no.’ The man tells Santiago that these stones will guide him but that Santiago should try to make his own decisions whenever possible. Melchizedek tells Santiago an anecdote about a boy visiting a wise king in order to illustrate the point that the secret to happiness is to observe the beauty of the world around you but also be cognizant of your responsibilities and personal treasures. Later, Melchizedek sits atop a fort at the highest point of Tarifa watching a ship leave the port. He thinks about how he will likely never see the boy again and how Santiago will likely forget his name. Although gods are not supposed to have desires because they don’t have Personal Legends, he hopes the boy will be successful.

 

Santiago arrives in Tangier by boat and goes to a small bar. He speaks no Arabic but manages to order some tea. An Arab dressed in Western clothing approaches Santiago and speaks to him in Spanish. The young man finds out Santiago is trying to get to Egypt and offers to be his guide. Santiago follows the man into the market but ends up getting tricked. The man is a thief and steals all of Santiago’s money from selling his sheep. Santiago feels so ashamed and sorry for himself that he cries in the market. The boy remembers the stones the old man gave him—Urim and Thummim. He asks the stones if he still has the old man’s blessing and pulls out the black stone that symbolizes yes. Next Santiago asks if he is going to find his treasure. He reaches into the pouch but then both stones fall out through a hole in the bottom. Santiago remembers what the old man said about omens and takes this as a sign that he needs to make his own decisions. He decides that even if he never makes it to the Pyramids he is meant to be an adventurer looking for treasure.

 

Santiago sleeps in the empty marketplace. He wakes the next morning as a boy with no money in a foreign country. He sees a candy seller who seems so content and happy with his work that Santiago is certain the candy seller has achieved his Personal Legend. The boy goes over to the man’s stall and receives some free candy. After, he realizes that he had spoken Spanish the whole time while the candy seller spoke Arabic, yet they were still able to communicate. From this Santiago realizes that there must be a universal language among people.

 

In Tarifa, there is a crystal merchant who has worked at the same shop at the top of a hill for 30 years. Business has been unlucky in the past few years because fewer people make the trek up to the top of the hill to see the shop. Santiago sees the shop and comes in, offering to dust off the crystal in the window in exchange for something to eat. The crystal merchant offers to let Santiago work in his shop in exchange for a commission on sold crystal.

After working for the crystal merchant for about a month, Santiago realizes that this is the type of job that will never make him happy because the merchant is grumpy and difficult. Still, Santiago stays with the job to earn enough money to get back to Spain and re-buy his flock. He no longer dreams about going to Egypt to look for treasure. Wanting to increase sales and thus his commission, Santiago institutes a bunch of changes in the shop to drive up business. He creates a display case at the bottom of the hill and convinces the merchant to offer tea in crystal glasses for thirst customers. The changes are successful and soon Santiago is making many more sales.

 

One day the merchant asks Santiago why he had wanted to go see the Pyramids. Santiago says he wanted to see new places and travel. The merchant is silent for a few minutes. He then tells Santiago that the Koran lists five obligations that a Muslim must satisfy in his lifetime. The last of these obligations is to make pilgrimage to the city of Mecca. The merchant has dreamed of going to Mecca for years and years but has never realized his dream. He is afraid that once he goes to Mecca he will have nothing else to live for. This is the difference between Santiago and the merchant. Santiago wants to see his dreams of travel come true, while the merchant just wants to keep dreaming.

 

As the shop gets more successful, the merchant tells Santiago that the change is too much for him. Even though the merchant was depressed before Santiago’s arrival, he had gotten used to the way things were. Santiago is making the merchant think about wealth and possibilities he never previously imagined, and this too is a curse in a way. After a while, the merchant says the Arabic word maktub. By this time, Santiago has learned Arabic, but this is a word he doesn’t know. When Santiago asks what the word means, the merchant says that it is difficult to explain, but, in Santiago’s language, it means something like ‘it is written.’

 

Eleven months after he first set foot in Africa, Santiago wakes before dawn and leaves his home with all his money and possessions. He has finally raised enough money to buy his sheep back. Santiago says goodbye to the merchant and asks for his blessing. The merchant says he is proud of Santiago but that he thinks Santiago will change his mind and go to the Pyramids after all because it is maktub. Santiago thinks back to what the old king told him about beginner’s luck: that when you truly want something the universe conspires to help you achieve it. He realizes that he can always go back to being a shepherd, but maybe he’ll never have another chance to go see the Pyramids.

 

An Englishman is sitting on a bench in a warehouse in Tangier. He believes in omens and studies alchemy. He has already spent much of his fortune seeking the Philosopher’s Stone and the Elixir of Life, legendary formulas that make you immortal. He has heard of an alchemist who lives in the Al-Fayoum oasis in the Sahara desert who is said to be 200 years old. The Englishman hopes that this man will help him with his alchemy. As the Englishman sits Santiago comes into the warehouse with baggage saying that he is also bound for the desert. The Englishman keeps to himself until he sees Santiago take out Urim and Thummim. He tells Santiago that he learned about Urim and Thummim and omens in the bible. Both men join a caravan headed toward the oasis.

Almost 200 people are gathered to join the caravan. The leader of the caravan tells everyone that he is a Muslim and thus prays to Allah but that everyone should swear to their respective God that they will follow orders in the caravan because in the desert disobedience means death. The caravan sets out and passes through various desert climates. As they continue to travel they begin to see mysterious hooded men. Santiago learns that these men are Bedouins who do surveillance on the caravans. The Englishman says there are rumors of tribal wars in the desert. One night the Englishman and Santiago take a walk through the dunes at night. The Englishman tells Santiago the story of his life and about his interest in alchemy. The two discover that they both believe in the soul of the world and the idea of omens.

 

The Englishman lends Santiago some books from which he learns about the Emerald Tablet, a precious stone on which all the most influential literature of alchemy is written. The books also talk about a liquid called the elixir of life that cures all illnesses and the philosopher’s stone, which makes a person immortal. As the caravan continues the hooded Bedouins become more common, and the threat of war comes closer. Santiago befriends a camel driver who tells him that he is not afraid because he lives in the present and doesn’t focus too much on the future or past. This is how he is able to find happiness in his life. The caravan eventually reaches a vast oasis without being attacked. The oasis is considered a neutral territory because so many women and children live there. No weapons are allowed inside. The caravan members are welcomed as guests and may stay there for protection through the war.

 

The Englishman enlists Santiago’s help in searching for the alchemist of Al-Fayoum Oasis. They go to a well and ask several people where they might find such a man. None of the people are immensely helpful, and most steer clear of the two visitors. They frown on sorcery and don’t want to answer any questions. Finally, a young woman comes to the well. When she approaches Santiago feels the Soul of the World surge through him. It is love at first sight and Santiago is certain that this is the only woman he will ever need in his life. Santiago approaches the girl, and she tells him that her name is Fatima. Fatima tells the Englishman where to find the alchemist, whom she says communicates with the genies of the desert.

 

The next day the Englishman tells Santiago that he waited all afternoon and evening for the alchemist to give him guidance on turning lead to gold, but the alchemist’s only advice was to ‘go and try.’ Santiago goes back to the well and tells Fatima that he loves her. He continues to go to the well every day to meet with her and tell her stories about his journeys. One day about a month after Santiago’s arrival at the oasis, Fatima tells Santiago that even though there is a tribal war she wants him to go on and continue to follow his Personal Legend. Santiago does not want to leave Fatima—he tells her that she is the only treasure that matters to him now. But Fatima is insistent. She claims that the women of the desert know how to let their men go. She knows Santiago will come back after he has achieved his destiny, and even if he doesn’t, she will learn to live with it because she has a love without ownership.

 

Santiago goes to find the Englishman, who is busy working on his alchemy. Then Santiago goes to sit by himself and grapple with his thoughts on love, possession, and destiny. As Santiago sits he watches the hawks in the sky. Suddenly one of the hawks makes a flash dive and Santiago has a vision of an army riding into the oasis. Santiago thinks of Fatima and is terrified for her safety. He has already learned to believe in the power of omens. He goes to the camel driver for guidance. The camel driver tells him that God only reveals the future when it is a future that can be altered. And so, Santiago decides to see the tribal chieftains to tell them about his vision.

The boy approaches the chieftains’ tent and is allowed inside. He tells the chieftains of what he has seen, but they are skeptical of his vision. The chieftains do not believe that their enemy would attack a neutral territory because it would be breaking the Tradition. They also distrust Santiago because he is a stranger in their land. Still, the head chieftain says that the Tradition teaches them to follow the messages of the dessert. He compares Santiago to Joseph, a man who also interpreted dreams in a strange land. The elder tells Santiago that the men will carry weapons for the next day. If enemies attack, Santiago will be rewarded with gold. But if no one comes, Santiago will pay with his life.

 

Santiago leaves the tent paralyzed by fear, but then he remembers what the camel driver told him about living in the present. He tells himself that today is as legitimate a day to die as any other and that at least he will have died in pursuit of his Personal Legend. As Santiago walks a strange horseman with a turban that covers his entire face except for his eyes approaches him. The man takes out his sword and asks Santiago why he dared to read the flight of the birds and challenge the future. Santiago says that he only saw what was shown to him and that he is in pursuit of his Personal Legend. The man puts away the sword, saying he had to test Santiago’s courage. The rider is the famous alchemist the Englishman was after. He tells Santiago that if the enemies come and he is not killed, he should come seek the alchemist at his home.

 

The next morning, the enemy tribe arrived just as Santiago had predicted. Thanks to his forewarning, the people of the oasis were able to protect themselves, and the tribal chieftain rewarded the boy with fifty pieces of gold. After dark Santiago found the alchemist in his home. The alchemist has a talk with Santiago about his Personal Legend. Santiago explains that he doesn’t want to leave because of Fatima. The alchemist tells Santiago he must find his treasure so that everything he’s learned thus far will make sense. He instructs Santiago to trade his camel for a horse, which is a more reliable animal to travel through the desert with.

 

The next night Santiago returns to the alchemist. The two ride out and the alchemist tells Santiago to find life in the desert. Santiago does not know the ways of the desert, but he rides out until his horse slows. The two riders stop at a hole in the ground. The alchemist sticks his hand in and pulls out a giant cobra by its tail. The alchemist draws a circle in the sand with his scimitar and throws the snake inside, telling Santiago that the creature won’t leave the circle. He then says that he wants to take on Santiago as a disciple and guide him through the desert. He says that if Santiago decides to stay, the omens will keep nagging at him for years making him question what would have happened if he proceeded with his journey. He will never be happy unless he pursues his destiny before it is too late.

 

The next morning before dawn Santiago goes to Fatima to say goodbye. The two embrace and commit to always remember each other and their love for as long as they are separated. Santiago rides into the desert with the alchemist. He is sad, and his heart aches for Fatima, but the alchemist tells him not to think about what he is leaving behind. As they travel the alchemist tells Santiago more about alchemy, the Emerald Tablet, and the Soul of the World. He tells Santiago to listen to his heart in order to better understand the desert. Santiago tries to listen to his heart but finds it difficult because his heart is agitated and betrays him. But the more he listens the more he becomes in tune with his heart’s desires and fears. He comes to understand that hearts resist dreams because following dreams can sometimes make the heart suffer. The alchemist tells Santiago that even though most people experience beginner’s luck, the end of one’s journey is always the hardest because one’s heart is tried the most. The boy remembers an old proverb: the darkest hour of the night is always right before the dawn.

The next day three armed tribesmen approach Santiago and the alchemist. They search the travelers’ bags and the alchemist offers the men Santiago’s gold from the chieftain in exchange for being allowed to continue their journey. When the men leave the alchemist says he gave away the money to show Santiago that his greatest treasures are within him. He also says that Santiago is quite lucky because it is not often that you can save your life with money. As the two continue onward Santiago continues to listen to and converse with his heart. His heart warns him of the danger of the desert, and the alchemist says that Santiago must always trust his heart.

 

As the sun sets Santiago’s heart sends him a warning. He sees horsemen approaching in the distance until he and the alchemist are surrounded by hundreds of tribal warriors. The tribesmen take Santiago and the alchemist to a nearby military camp where one of the men accuses them of being spies. The alchemist tells the chief that Santiago has remarkable powers that help him to understand nature and the world. He says that Santiago has the ability to turn himself into the wind. This intrigues the chief, who decides to give Santiago three days to prove his power. If, after that time, Santiago has not performed the miracle, he will be sentenced to death.

 

Santiago is furious with the alchemist for saying such a thing to the chief and once again fearful for his life. But the alchemist tells him not to give into his fears. When Santiago says that he has no idea how to turn himself into the wind, the alchemist merely says that there is no better time to learn. Santiago spends the first two days listening to his heart. On the third day, he takes the tribal chiefs to a cliff away from the camp. He speaks with the desert, which tells him that love is the cycle of life. Next Santiago summons the wind. He asks the wind to teach him how to be the wind himself for just a few moments. The wind is intrigued by such a request. It starts blowing as hard as it can but doesn’t know how to turn a person into the wind. So the wind suggests Santiago ask heaven for that.

 

The wind brings Santiago to the sun. Santiago speaks with the sun about love and his Personal Legend. The sun tells Santiago that the soul of the world communicates with his soul. The sun offers warmth, and the soul of the world offers a reason for being. Santiago says that he too knows about the soul of the world and love, the force that transforms the soul of the world. Santiago asks again to be transformed into the wind and is directed to the hand that wrote all. The boy turns to the hand that wrote all and is overcome by love. He reaches through the soul of the world and sees that it is part of the soul of God, which is in turn a part of his own soul. From this Santiago learns he can perform miracles.

 

The wind blows harder than ever before, and Santiago ends up on the other side of camp. The men of the tribe are frightened by Santiago’s sorcery and decide to release the boy and the alchemist. The next day, the two travelers ride for the entire day until they reach a Coptic monastery. There a monk welcomes them. The alchemist uses the kitchen to turn lead into gold. He breaks the gold into four pieces: one for the boy, one for the alchemist, and one for the monk. The last piece he gives the monk to safeguard for Santiago in case he loses his fortune for a third time. The alchemist then tells Santiago that he is only three hours from the Pyramids and must continue the last leg of his journey alone.

 

Santiago rides alone through the desert until he reaches the top of a dune and sees the Pyramids for the first time. He is overcome by joy at having at last reached the end of his journey. Santiago sees a scarab beetle scuttling through the sand and takes this as another omen. He begins to dig frantically into the dune, certain he will find his treasure beneath it. The boy finds nothing at first but keeps digging throughout the night. In the middle of the night, he hears footsteps and is surrounded by several hooded figures. The men are hungry refugees from the war. They steal Santiago’s piece of gold from his bag and guess that he is looking for more treasure buried there. They beat and kick Santiago, all the while forcing him to keep digging. When Santiago is exhausted and fatigued he screams out at them that he is digging for treasure. The men realize that there is not quite gold in the dune and laugh at him. One of the men calls the boy stupid for following his dream. The man says that he had a recurring dream once that there was gold waiting for him beneath a sycamore tree at an abandoned church, but he just ignored the dream. After the men leave Santiago stands up unsteadily, but his heart is full of joy. He now knows where his treasure is.

Santiago travels all the way back to Spain. He returns to the abandoned church where his journey began, only this time without his flock. He shouts at the sky to the alchemist, knowing that the old sorcerer knew all along what would happen. The alchemist had even planted extra gold with the Coptic monk so that Santiago might have money to return home after losing everything to thieves yet again. Santiago asks why the alchemist couldn’t have spared him from that. He hears a voice on the wind telling him that if the alchemist had told him where the treasure was, he never would have traveled and seen the Pyramids. Santiago smiles and begins to dig. An hour later he hits a chest of Spanish gold coins. He places Urim and Thummim in the chest as well, since those stones are also precious to him.

 

Santiago realizes that life truly is generous to those who follow their Personal Legends. He remembers the gypsy woman in Tarifa and plans to return to the village to pay the woman the one-tenth of his treasure that she is owed. The wind begins to blow again—wind from Africa. It brings the scent of a familiar perfume and the touch of a kiss. Santiago smiles and whispers to Fatima that he is coming for her.

A few weeks after the conversation between Robert and Adele, Madame Lebrun holds a party in the resort’s hall for the patrons. Though everybody there has heard their practicing, the children are asked to perform piano pieces and are lauded for their skill. Though Adele can’t dance, she ends up providing the music for the patrons to do so.

After having done much dancing, Edna sits out on the gallery where she can see the Gulf of Mexico. Robert asks her if she would like to hear Mademoiselle Reisz play. Though the older woman is not particularly liked amongst the vacationers and is known to argue with many, she agrees to come out of her cottage to the party to play for Edna, whom she is apparently fond of.

Edna enjoys music and vivid images come to her mind when she hears it. She has seen before a naked man staring at a bird and a woman dancing. She expects to see these again as Reisz begins to play, but instead she feels those emotions those images are correlating to; It’s such a surprise that Edna can’t help but cry. While leaving, Reisz comments that Edna is the only person worth playing for in that room, though everybody there immensely admired the performance. As the party dwindles down, Robert suggests that instead of going home they all go out for a swim.

The party heads out to the gulf and Edna notices that Robert isn’t walking with her family as he usually does. In fact, she notes that there have been whole days when she doesn’t see him. She misses him on those days, though she didn’t realize she would.

Edna has been attempting to learn how to swim with the help of many of the vacationers, but has found herself unable to without having someone close by. This evening though, some epiphany strikes her and she finds herself swimming quite well. She notes that it seems so effortless now and wonders why she had wasted so much time not knowing before. The party encourages and congratulates her. She swims alone and heads out farther than she has gone before. Whilst floating alone, the shore appears to Edna far away, causing her to panic a bit at the thought of drowning.

She makes it back and then dresses up. Though everybody is still out in the water and asks her not to, Edna leaves for home. Robert catches up with her and she explains how the night feels like a dream and wonders if she’ll ever again feel like she did when listening to Reisz’s playing. Though Robert understands what she feels, he instead creates an elaborate story containing ghosts as to explain her emotions.

Upon arriving at the Pontellier cottage, Robert turns towards his deferential habits in making Edna comfortable in the hammock. While sharing some moments of silence, the narrator notes that it marked the “first-felt throbbings of desire.”

Leonce arrives and finds Edna in the hammock. He tells her to go in, and after multiple requests denied he becomes angry. Edna thinks about how she has always consented to his wishes and wonders why she ever did. Leonce then sits outside with her, smoking and drinking. They both wait until some time before dawn, when sleep has finally worn down Edna, and she desires to go in. Walking back, she asks Leonce if he’s coming in, to which he says, “as soon as I have finished my cigar.”

The following morning, Edna feels compelled by nothing more than impulse and goes to Robert’s home to have him called upon. The narrator notes that this is the first time that she has done so, as he is always the one to show interest, but neither notices anything different. Though it’s early, her, Robert, and some other people have awoken early to take the boat to a nearby island for Sunday mass.

On the boat, Robert flirts with a Spanish girl named Mariequita. She asks if he and Edna are lovers and he responds no. While they talk in Spanish- which no one else on the boat understands- Edna observes the Mariequita’s bare, dirty feet and attractive eyes. She takes in the whole situation with ease and enjoys all of it.

Robert brings up to Edna the idea of spending time together on some of the islands. It sounds appealing to Edna, and they imagine the thought of finding pirate gold that they can spend frivolously. Edna feels that the events from last night have made her free from something she wasn’t aware was holding her down.

During the service, Edna suddenly gets dizzy and gets up to leave, with Robert following her. She explains that she felt giddy. Robert leads her to Madame Antoine’s house where she undresses, washes herself, and then lays in bed. She looks at her own skin with a new appreciation, and then proceeds to fall asleep.

She awakes later, finding that the house is empty save her and Robert. She asks if she has slept long enough for the rest of society to have died off, leaving only her and Robert. She eats voraciously and they end up sitting under an orange tree. When Madame Antoine returns, they listen to her tell stories about having lived on the island her entire life.

Upon returning to the cottage, Edna finds that Adele has been taking care of the children for her. Adele describes the happenings of the day- how Leonce almost left to go find Edna but was reassured by one of the service goers that she was merely tired; that Leonce had gone to Klein hotel to talk business with somebody. Adele leaves them, as her husband doesn’t enjoy being alone.

Once Edna comforts Etienne- who had been acting up until her arrival- she puts him to sleep and bids Robert farewell. She observes that she wishes he hadn’t left, as she feels it is quite right for him to be around her when he can.

She waits up for Leonce, singing a song that Robert had been singing earlier. She admires that his voice isn’t pretentious.

Some time after, Edna joins many of the vacationers in the dining room. The place is buzzing with news and Edna finds out that Robert has decided to leave that night for Vera Cruz. As she and him have been spending quite a lot of time together, she is entirely taken aback as he had not mentioned it. Robert claims that he had been planning on going for years but decided to leave tonight as the ship that will take him there leaves soon.

The room bursts into chatter about Mexican people and questions about Mexican-made prayer beads. Edna remains fairly quiet, asking only a few questions about when he was going, and if he was packed, then leaves the place to return to her cottage. There, she distracts herself by accomplishing various little chores around the house. When the boys should be put to sleep, she tells them an exciting story that just keeps them up longer.

She changes into her nightgown and goes out onto the porch. There, Madame Lebrun’s servant girl sends a message that the Madame would appreciate Edna’s company until Robert leaves. Edna turns down the invitation. Adele walks by to check on Edna, and they discuss Robert’s sudden departure as inconsiderate. Though she tries to convince Edna to join her and Madame Lebrun, Edna turns her down as well, and she leaves.

Robert arrives a little later and engages in a terse conversation with her. She admits that she enjoys his company and dislikes that he had not told her that he was leaving earlier. Robert stops himself short of explaining why that is the exact reason he should leave. Edna requests that he write her and he agrees. He walks down silently to the boatman.

As he leaves she bites down on her napkin in an attempt to hold back her tears. She realizes that this is the first time she has felt the infatuation that she did when she was a little girl and a young woman with the actor’s picture. She is distraught at knowing that her new self-awareness wanted Robert but will not be able to have him.

As summer comes to a close, Edna spends a lot of time swimming as it’s the only thing that makes her happy. She thinks about Robert often, trying to get others to talk about him; spending time with Madame Lebrun in her sewing room and asking about the Lebrun family while looking at pictures of them. It’s during one of these trips that she reads a letter Robert sent to his mother, giving information on how he was doing and indicating that if Edna wanted to finish the book they were reading, she could find it in his room. She’s jealous that she was not written to.

Upon hearing that Leonce saw Robert in the city, she asks him many questions about how he is doing. She doesn’t feel odd in doing so as the feelings she has for Robert are not the same ones she has for her husband.

When talking to Adele once, she remarks how she would give up everything but herself for her children. She seems to be saying that she would give up her life, wealth, and well being, but not her personhood. It strikes Adele as odd- enough to create a heated conversation between them.

One of the mornings that she heads out to the beach to swim, Mademoiselle Reisz comes up behind her to ask if she misses Robert. Reisz goes on about how Robert was the only decent member of the Lebruns. She recalls how he beat up his brother Victor when the latter had started yelling at him for spending time with a Spanish girl Victor had his eye on. It turns out to be Mariequita- the same girl from the boat ride to the island. Edna feels almost depressed listening to Reisz’s gossip, but after a swim and the walk back, the older woman seems friendlier and invites Edna to her place in New Orleans.

Leonce is described as a worldly man who is fond of his every possession. He sometimes walks around his New Orleans house just to admire the things he has. Tuesday is usually the day that Edna receives guests at their home- a habit she has kept for six years- and one Tuesday a few weeks after returning from Grand Isle, Leonce notices that she is not dressed in her usually elegant clothing. He comes to find out that she did not receive any guests that day and become quite irritated. She explains that she merely felt like leaving the house instead of staying in. Leonce goes through the cards left by visitors and details why each one is either urgent or not. Complaining about the food and bothered by Edna’s behavior, Leonce decides to leave to have his dinner somewhere else.

Edna notes that this is not a new occurrence and that most every other time it happened, she worried about the food menu, scolded the cook, considered the quality of the meals, lost her appetite, and ended up feeling inadequate after all that effort. This time though, she just ate her meal and felt anger instead of despair.

After finishing her meal, she goes up to her room, tries to break her wedding ring, and then breaks a vase.

The following morning, Edna refuses Leonce’s request of going to buy some furniture, and he tells her to rest up as she seems sick. Edna is uninterested in anything going on around her and proceeds to look over all her sketches with a critical eye. Picking a few that she doesn’t hate, she dresses up to meet with Adele, whose friendship has continued since Grand Isle. On her way, she thinks of Robert. Though she can’t pinpoint a particular thing about him that she misses, she feels that it’s the entirety of him that she thinks about often.

The narrator notes how the Ratignolle’s are known for throwing popular, elegant parties in their home that everyone wishes to be invited to. At their meeting, Edna pretends to want Adele’s opinion on whether or not she should take up drawing lessons. Edna has, in fact, already decided, and merely wants the affirmation. Adele encourages her to do so and invites her to stay for lunch.

Having had lunch with Adele and her husband doesn’t make her feel better or set an ideal for her to work for. She feels that the lifestyle is not for her and pities Adele a bit for the boredom that the life must bring. She considers the idea of “life’s delirium” and how it’s something she wants to feel.

Edna gives up having people over entirely and decides instead to do what she wants whenever she wants- mostly painting. Leonce is disturbed by this, pointing to Adele as an excellent example of a woman who both takes care of her family and pursues her particular hobby. Leonce leaves her alone at her request though, and Edna ends up painting portraits of everyone in the house.

The narrator notes that the change is due is due to the fact that Edna is now becoming her own person instead of pretending to be someone else. She paints as it reminds her of the ocean and her time on Grand Isle. Her emotions range wildly from day to day, and she can’t explain why; sometimes she hates people and other days she is blithe.

During one of her bum moods, she suddenly gains the desire to spend time Reisz. Having lost the woman’s address, Edna uses the directory. The address listed is Reisz’s old apartment, and upon asking the nearby grocer about her, Edna receives nothing but negative comments.

Knowing that Adele won’t have Reisz’s address, Edna heads to Madame Lebrun’s house to ask her for it. She is greeted by Robert’s brother- Victor- who waits with her until his mother comes down to see her. Whilst waiting, Victor starts telling her about how he spent night before on the town. Though she knows she should act prudish, she is amused by the tale.

When Madame Lebrun comes down, she learns Robert has sent two letters since his departure, neither containing any messages for Edna. Upon receiving Reisz’s address, Victor escorts her to her carriage where he flirts with her a bit. Again, Edna knows she should be acting more reserved, but can’t help but laugh. When she has left, both Madame Lebrun and Victor note that she seems to have changed for the better.

Reisz is surprisingly happy to see Edna- uncharacteristically laughing with delight. Their conversation is polite but straightforward, with Edna saying that she is unsure about liking Reisz and Reisz saying she does not know if Edna can be a true artist. The older woman notes that an artist needs to have a courageous soul that can defy. Reisz reveals that Robert has sent her a letter that is all about Edna. Through some persistence, Edna manages to acquire the letter and reads it while Reisz plays for her.

Edna bursts into tears and asks if she can come again. Reisz says that she is welcome whenever, leads her out, picks up the tear-stained letter from the floor and returns it to the envelope it came in.

Worried about his wife, Leonce visits an old doctor of the family- Mandelet. He tries to explain to the doctor what it is about his wife that worries him, but Mandelet shoots down each of his concerns. When the doctor learns that Edna has become antisocial, he is genuinely surprised. Though Leonce believes that spending time with her family will help her, Edna has suddenly lost interest in attending her youngest sister’s wedding, describing all weddings as a “lamentable spectacle.” Leonce mentions that her family’s home in Kentucky had to be sold as a way to pay off her father’s horse racing bets.

In the end, he suggests to Leonce to let her live her own way and leave her alone. He characterizes women as beings who can’t be understood by men and the latter shouldn’t attempt to do so. So as not to raise Edna’s suspicions, they arrange for Mandelet to join them one evening for dinner as a cover for him to check up on her.

Mandelet wonders if another man is involved, but decides not to ask the question of Leonce.

Having come down to pick out a gift for his daughter’s wedding and an outfit that would be appropriate for the event, Edna ends up spending time with her father. Edna appreciates the chance to redirect her emotions, and though she is not particularly close to her father, enjoys the time she spends with him. The old, Confederate colonel isn’t particularly fond of the children, shooing them away when he is posing for Edna’s sketches. The narrator describes how he believes each of his daughters has immense ability that only awaits for them to unlock it.

Edna takes her father to one of the Ratignolle’s grand parties where he is doted upon by all the attendees- particularly Adele, who puts on a coquettish air when talking to him. Edna is aware of it happening, but finds the practice strange, as she herself has never acted in such a way. Though she finds men she meets attractive, she doesn’t put on the same airs that Adele does when she talks to men. Leonce doesn’t enjoy the Ratignolle’s parties, preferring clubs. Adele reproaches the behavior and suggests that if he stayed home more often instead of going out, he and Edna would have a better marriage. Edna shoots down the idea remarking that they’d have nothing to talk about.

Her father’s company entertains Edna, and she feels like she knows him for the first time in her life. She finds amusement in serving him, a behavior that Leonce interprets as an expression of love.

One evening after a day at the racetrack, Mandelet joins Edna, her father and Leonce for dinner at their house. Leonce voices disapproval of their gambling (thinking of the home they lost due to it) and find himself at odds with Edna and her father because of it. Mandelet observes that Edna seems vivacious throughout the meal.

The conversation then moves to storytelling with Mandelet recounting tales of the area’s history. Edna’s father tells grim war stories about his time in the Civil War. Edna makes up a vivid story about lovers getting lost on a boat in the Gulf Coast that enraptures the listeners. She attributes the story to Madame Antoine, but that’s incorrect.

Walking home Mandelet is now sure that Edna is in love with another man, and only hopes that this other man is not Alcee Arobin.

Upon learning that Edna will not be attending her sister’s wedding, her father becomes irritated and scolds her for the decision. Leaving, he tells Leonce that the only way to manage a wife is through authority and coercion though it’s these same tactics that Leonce believes killed Edna’s mother. Edna is now glad to see her father go; the man has worn out his welcome and now instead of finding him entertaining; she finds all his little habits- Bible reading, drink mixing, etc.- tiresome.

As Leonce starts off for his long trip to New York to take care of business, Edna finds herself acting darned much like she would expect Adele to. She worries about what he packs, tells him to take care of his health and shows much affection. The children leave as well, Leonce’s mother missing the young boys and taking them to the country home so as to experience a little the same life that Leonce had as a little boy.

Once left alone, Edna finds herself exploring the home as if she has never lived there before. She leaves the duties of taking care of the place to her servants and spends time in the garden, playing with the boys’ dog. Though her family comes to her mind, she enjoys the relative solitude and takes aim to make the best of her time by reading more.

Edna’s emotions continue to vary to extremes. She feels herself becoming too familiar to the despair-like emotion that she has when she feels her life is unfulfilling. She spends much of her time on the racetrack and is one day asked to join Alcee Arobin and Mrs. Highcamp at the track, where the others discover she is quite knowledgeable in the sport. Mrs. Highcamp uses her daughter as a way to have the company the younger men of New Orleans society, of which Alcee belongs to. Though Edna isn’t fond of Mrs. Highcamp, she majorly enjoys the cheerful disposition of Alcee. Alcee himself has always admired Edna, but only grows an interest in her when they saw each other with Edna’s father present. Alcee accompanies her home and gets her to agree to come to the races with him again. Finishing her dinner, Edna fines herself still energetic and wishes that something would happen; that she would’ve asked Alcee to stay longer.

Some days pass and Alcee invites her to the races again. As Mrs. Highcamp can’t join them, and they can’t find the company of anyone else they’d like along, they spend the time together alone. She lets her guard down with him, which is easy as he has a personable attitude.

That evening at Edna’s house, Alcee shows her a scar he said he acquired from a duel in Paris. Edna holds his arm, where the mark is. The intimacy makes her uncomfortable- even more so as he insists on spending more time with her, kissing her hand as he does so. She apologizes to him if her demeanor has misled him, but he only blames himself for his feelings.

Once she leaves, she feels guilty, not because of her marriage to Leonce, but because she worries she has been unfaithful to Robert.

After the incident at her house, Alcee writes Edna a note apologizing for his behavior. Edna is unsure as to whether ignore the note and risk making it seem more serious than it actually was or writing sincerely and give the impression that she had been affected by his kiss. In the end, she decides to give a slightly flippant response that passes the whole thing off as nothing. She writes he is welcome to come over anytime to see her paintings and he does so soon quickly after receiving her letter.

They end up spending quite a lot of time together, with him submitting to her inconstant emotions and conversing with her with candor.

Edna is also spending much time with Reisz. Edna tells the older woman that she is planning to move out of the house, as she has saved up money from winning at the racetrack and saving some from her father’s allowance to her. Reisz is unsurprised, only conversing with Edna in a way that makes the latter reveal her true motivations as to why she wants to move.  As it turns out, it’s only a whim that Edna wishes to indulge.

Sometimes, Robert will have sent Reisz a letter, which she shares with Edna; the old woman plays the piano while Edna reads it. This time, Edna discovers that Robert has decided to come back. Thrilled at the prospect, Edna talks to Reisz about the nature of love and why it is that she feels that way about Robert. She finally admits that the emotions she has been having for Robert are actually love.

That evening, Alcee comes to spend time with Edna and notices that she is acting differently, though she doesn’t reveal why. As he affectionately strokes her hair, she wonders out loud what kind of woman she is in light of all the social mores she has grown up to know. Though Alcee tries to flatter her, she doesn’t fall for it.

She talks about Reisz and her odd thoughts. She mentions a time when Reisz checked Edna’s shoulders to see if her “wings were strong” enough to fly over prejudice and tradition. Alcee suggests that the woman is demented, but Edna disagrees.

He then kisses her, giving her the first kiss of her life that she truly strongly responds to in a physical way.

That same night, Edna feels a range of emotions- irresponsibility towards her husband; the shock of a new experience; guilt from her love of Robert. What creates the strongest reaction is that the kiss that made her feel that way wasn’t based in love- only in physical desire.

Though Edna had written to Leonce about moving out, she decides not to wait for a response and begins to move the day after her kiss with Alcee. Alcee shows up in the midst of the bustle, offering to help a bit. Edna keeps the maid around to make sure they’re not alone together, but he manages to send her away when he requests a cup of water.

Alone, Alcee asks when he’ll have the chance to see her again. Edna tells him to wait until the dinner party she is throwing, and he concedes.

As Adele and Madame Lebrun are unable to join Edna’s dinner party, a group of ten people meet at her house the night of it. It’s revealed that the night of the dinner is also Edna’s twenty-ninth birthday.

The party guests talk about various things. Reisz gives a poor opinion of the local orchestra. One of the guests tries to tell a dull story that someone pretends to like. Mrs. Highcamp seems disinterested in Victor Lebrun until he starts talking to a younger woman. Monsieur Ratignolle asks Alcee about his family. Through it all though, Edna feels a sense of ennui, as Robert is not there.

At one point, Mrs. Highcamp dresses a tipsy Victor in a wreath and scarf. Asked to sing, Victor begins the same tune that Robert sang when he and Edna returned from the island to Grand Isle during the summer. Edna asks him to stop, breaking her glass in the process as she slams it down for emphasis, but thinking her insincere, Victor continues. Edna gets up and puts her hand over his mouth, which he kisses and then stops singing. The party breaks up and people start heading home.

Edna and Alcee lock up the house, and he accompanies her to the new, smaller one. As a surprise, he has sent flowers ahead and had the maid set them up, but Edna makes no remark. Tired, she sits down in a chair. They discuss how the party went and how she feels. As he’s about to leave, he begins caressing her- something that she does not protest.

Having received Edna’s letter, Leonce sends a disapproving letter regarding her decision to move out as it may give the impression that the family has lost money. Knowing that Edna has most likely already completed the action, Leonce simultaneously sends for architects to start remodeling his house, providing the perfect cover-up so as not to lose face.

Edna admires her husband’s quick thinking, but does not regret the decision to move out. While the house feels like a drop in social status, it also feels like an expansion of her happiness and self-awareness.

She goes to her mother-in-law’s country home to visit her children. While there she is overjoyed with tears and takes a strong interest in their activities. Once she returns home without them, they slip out of her mind, and she is quite content alone.

Adele comes to visit Edna in her new apartment, whom Edna has not come to see in a long while. Adele notes that Edna seems like a child sometimes, making rash decisions. She points out that perhaps it’s wiser to not spend time with Alcee, as his reputation amongst other men is quite pathetic. That same afternoon she is visited by Mrs. Merriman and Mrs. Highcamp, who invite her to join them at a play. Edna agrees to go, though she doesn’t care much for either of them.

Edna finds herself spending time with Reisz when she wants relief from the day or to talk about Robert. During this particular day, Edna goes to find the house empty. Reisz leaves a hidden key with which to enter, and Edna uses it. She toils around in the garden a bit and then waits for Reisz by the piano. Suddenly, Robert walks in, and it’s revealed that he has been in New Orleans for two days. Edna is disappointed that he didn’t come to see her immediately, and begins to doubt the infatuation she has been harboring all this time.

Their conversation is awkward, with Edna attempting to maintain her composure despite her feelings. She gets up to leave, saying that Reisz won’t likely come back until much later. Robert decides to leave as well and accompanies her home. On their way back, they spot her house in the midst of construction and Leonce points out that he never knew her when she was in her home- Edna notes it was for the better.

Arriving at her apartment, Edna invites Robert to stay for dinner, and he agrees to do so. While looking around he notices a picture of Alcee amongst sketches and papers. He proceeds to ask questions about the picture and his relation to Edna, with Edna explaining that the picture is for a piece she was working on and that he is her acquaintance. She changes the subject back to Robert, asking him what he thought about in Mexico. Robert answers that he was thinking about Grand Isle then asks her what she has been thinking about. Using his exact phrasing, Edna answers that she has been thinking about Grand Isle, as well.

Dinner starts and the pair move to small talk discussing things that have happened while they’ve been apart. Returning from a quick trip to pick up cigarette paper, Robert notices that the coffee is out and offers to leave if he is imposing. Edna assures him that he isn’t, reminding him of all the time they spent at Grand Isle. Here, Robert notes that he has not forgotten anything about their time there.

Packing one of his cigarettes, Robert pulls out a silk tobacco pouch that Edna notes is different than the rubber one he had at Grand Isle. He explains that a girl from Vera Cruz gave it to him, and Edna gently presses questions to him about her. Robert gets nervous and places the pouch back in his pocket just as Alcee comes by.

Alcee has dropped in to tell Edna that the card game with Mrs. Merriman was postponed. Robert greets Alcee and they engage in small talk. Quickly, Robert leaves and bids them farewell. Deciding not to go the card party, Edna writes a note for Alcee to mail on his way out. Alcee assumes they will do something, but Edna tells him that she merely wants to be alone. He leaves her with flattering words, though she takes none of it sincerely.

Alone, Edna thinks over every moment she just spent with Robert and feels jealousy at the thought of the Mexican girl he met there. She also notes that she felt closer to him gone more than now that he is here.

The next morning, Edna wakes up more assured of Robert’s love for her. She imagines his daily activities and how he will come later in the evening for dinner like last night. She is convinced that eventually Robert’s reticence will break down, and he will admit his love for her.

She receives three letters: one from her sons describing how they found new piglets at the farm, another from her husband discussing how they’ll go on a trip abroad, and one from Alcee declaring his love for her. She responds to the first two but burns the last.

Robert doesn’t come back to dinner that night, or any night after. The process leaves her sad every night and hopeful every morning. She avoids any of the places she could run into him. After some days, Alcee invites her to a carriage ride, which she takes up. That night she feels no depression and no hope the following morning.

While sitting at a garden cafe in the suburbs that she often goes to, Edna finds that Robert has arrived, as well. Though Edna had decided she would act as indifferently as Robert when she next ran into him, she finds herself unable to. Robert is uncomfortable with the situation, but agrees to stay for dinner. Edna continues to make Robert uncomfortable by confronting him on why he has avoided her, explaining that even if it’s unwomanly, she feels compelled to express her feelings. Robert asks why she is making him tell false excuses. The conversation turns to small talk, and he accompanies her home.

At her small apartment, Edna kisses Robert and they begin to confess their love to one another, Edna describing how Robert woke her from the dull life she had been living. He explains that he went to Mexico as to get away from her, as with her being married only made him realize his love was never to be requited. He mentions that she belongs to Mr. Pontellier and she ridicules the idea that she is owned by anyone.

One of Adele’s servants comes by to say that Edna service is requested, as Adele has gone into labor. Though he doesn’t want her too, Edna leaves Robert and tells him to wait, reassuring him that they’ll be together.

Edna arrives at Adele’s home at the beginning of her labor. The latter is dramatically denouncing the doctor and questioning why everyone has abandoned her. Doctor Mandelet arrives to help Adele and takes the situation as lightly as the nurse, despite Adele’s panic. Edna stays throughout the entire thing and feels uncomfortable at having to remember her own childbirth.

The birth finished, Edna bids Adele farewell by kissing her forehead. While leaning in, Adele- without provocation or context- tells Edna to “think of the children.”

Dazed from the event, Edna turns down Mandelet’s offer of a ride, choosing instead to walk. Mandelet directs his car to her house to meet him there and accompanies her. She thinks out loud about what Adele said, how it’s better to be awake than asleep but perhaps not at the price of children. Understanding Edna’s jumbled words, Mandelet offers himself as someone that can be trusted, and tells Edna that they can talk of things she never thought she’d talk about.

After Mandelet leaves, Edna stops short of going inside and instead sits on the porch. She lets her negative emotions dissipate as she thinks of Robert and fantasizes about touching him. Though Adele’s words struck her intensely, Edna decides that tomorrow will be the appropriate time to consider the consequences of her action regarding her children.

Upon entering, she finds that Robert is gone, having left only a note that reads “I love you. Good-by- because I love you.” Edna’s heart is broken and lies down on the sofa. She spends the entire night awake.

On Grand Isle, Victor is doing some repairs while flirting with Mariequita and describing the dinner party he attended at Edna’s house. As they talk, Edna herself comes from around the corner, disheveled and dirty. Edna has come by boat to the island with no company and notes that the place seemed “dreary and deserted.” Victor quickly offers her his own room, as it’s the only place ready to house people. Edna asks when dinner will be ready, as she is hungry, and says she would like to take a swim. While both Victor and Mariequita think the idea is foolish as the water is cold, Edna insists and asks them to bring her towels.

Walking to the beach, Edna doesn’t think of anything, as her night spent on the couch was where she had done all the thinking she needed to do. She had thought about how neither Leonce nor Alcee mattered, and that the only person she wanted near her was Robert. She realized that it was inevitable that she would forget Robert and move on, but she also knew that her children were shackling her to a life that she didn’t want. The narrator notes, “she knew a way to elude them.”

Along the way to the shore, the giant sea stretches before her, and she sees a bird with a broken wing floating down towards the water. Instead of changing into her swimsuit, Edna chooses to go naked instead and feels like a new person. She starts swimming out and doesn’t stop nor look back. She thinks about how Robert didn’t understand her nor ever would. Possibly Mandelet would’ve, but it was already too late. She continues to swim- growing ever more tired- and as she recalls childhood memories of the Kentucky meadow of tall grass and the colonel she was infatuated with as a child, she lets the sea embrace her.

Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship.  Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.

Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.

Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.

Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.

Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.

The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control   the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.

Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.

Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.

Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.

Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.

Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.

Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.

Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.

Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.

Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.

Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.

Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.

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