The crystal merchant serves as an important friend to Santiago during Santiago’s time in Tangier, but he also functions as a cautionary case of someone who has become complacent and given up the pursuit of his Personal Legend. He maintains a crystal shop on the top of a hill in Tangier, and was rather successful until the city fell out of favor as a port. Although he is a good man who is devoutly religious and kind enough to take Santiago in, he fears pursuing his dream to make a pilgrimage to Mecca because he thinks he will have nothing to live for once he’s achieved his dream. The crystal merchant takes no pride in his conservative approach to life, but he feels rooted in his ways.
The crystal merchant is the most fully fleshed-out irredeemable character in The Alchemist. (The baker is another irredeemable character, as is Santiago’s own father, but we don’t see either of them as much as the crystal merchant). In other words, the novel portrays his fate as one to avoid, despite the fact that he comes across as a good person. The crystal merchant understands that he acts foolishly in not pursuing his Personal Legend, making it difficult to understand his motives when he refuses to change his ways, even after Santiago shows him the benefits of taking risks. Within the context of the story, he serves as an example of the dangers of an unfulfilled life, evident in his disappointment over his own life decisions.