73 pages 2 hours read

Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1988

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Reading Questions & Paired Texts

Reading Check and Short Answer questions on key plot points are designed for guided reading assignments, in-class review, formative assessment, quizzes, and more.


Proloque-Part 1

Reading Check

1. Whose story does the alchemist read during the caravan trip?

2. What is Santiago’s occupation?

3. What did Santiago’s family want him to be?

4. Why does Melchizedek give Santiago Urim and Thummim?

5. What must Santiago balance with his Personal Legend, lest he become too selfish?

6. Where does the old woman tell Santiago he will find a great treasure?

7. What happens when Santiago hires a man to help him cross the Saharan desert?

Short Answer

Answer each question in at least 1 complete sentence. Incorporate details from the text to support your response.

1. Why does Santiago’s father likely give him three Spanish gold coins?

2. According to The Alchemist, what is the “world’s greatest lie”?

3. What is a Personal Legend?

Paired Resource

The Ruined Man Who Became Rich Again Through a Dream

  • A tale from The Thousand and One Nights
  • Shares a similar lesson with The Alchemist
  • Why might Coelho have chosen to expand this folktale into The Alchemist?

The Myth of Narcissus and Echo” retold by Iseult Gillespie

  • A five-minute TED-Ed video recounting the myth of Narcissus
  • How does this myth differ from the story of Narcissus in the Prologue? Why might Coelho have changed the story?