Faith In John Steinbeck's 'The Alchemist'

Words: 525
Pages: 3

(PH, IC) In the opening scene in the abandoned church of The Alchemist, Santiago's dharma to self is fulfilled. The book opens in an abandoned church that has been taken over by nature. (Ph, IC, CC IC) In the evening, Santiago pens his sheep, and takes shelter in the church. He wakes just before dawn, and as he sits, he remembers how he came to be here. (IC;IC) His parents wanted him to become a priest, so they placed him in the seminary; however, for two years he is plagued by restlessness. Santiago realizes that ever since he was small, he wanted to travel, which he deems far more important than learning about the sins of man. Though he does not know why he feels such dissatisfaction with seminary life, he is acutely aware that it will not …show more content…
As the narrative returns to the present, Santiago reflects on the happiness he feels living life freely. As the sun rises, a profound peace dawns on him: “I couldn’t have found God in the seminary, he thought, as he looked at the sunrise” (10). The use of “couldn’t” indicates final confirmation the seminary could not have fulfilled Santiago. After living and breathing theology for some time, he knows the seminary offers rules without fulfillment of action and, for him, dissatisfaction; hence, he knows he “couldn’t” stay with such certainty. This does not mean Santiago has given up on his beliefs, as implied by the presence of “find”. Though he did not know what he was looking for, “find” implies Santiago has an innate desire to pursue his own path and spiritual beliefs for no other reason than to be happy. (DC, IC; CA, IC) Because he followed his heart, he found fulfillment without searching; moreover, the freedom he has to travel facilitated the boundaryless spirituality he discovers. Santiago’s presence in an abandoned church provides stark contrast to his life and feelings in the