The Alchemist

by: Paulo Coelho

Santiago Quotes

Quotes Santiago Quotes
He saw to it that all the sheep entered through the ruined gate, and then laid some planks across it to prevent the flock from wandering away during the night.

The narrator describes how Santiago cares for and protects his sheep. He feels serious about his responsibility for their well-being. This quality shines throughout the text even as Santiago travels and changes and evolves. His devotion to his animals reflects his devotion to his dreams: unwavering and humble.

But ever since he had been a child, he had wanted to know the world, and this was much more important to him than knowing God and learning about man's sins.

The narrator explains that Santiago has always known that his purpose in life was to travel despite attending a seminary until the age of sixteen. After Santiago finally finds the courage to confess his dream to his parents, who wish for him to become a priest, his father tries to talk him out of a nomadic life. His father gives him three gold coins to buy his flock, hoping that owning his own sheep would keep Santiago home. Readers learn, however, that Santiago chooses to follow his heart and sets off on his quest.

As he mused about these things, he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure. “I'm an adventurer, looking for treasure,” he said to himself.

While in the marketplace in Tangier, Santiago muses to himself. He has just been robbed, but Melchizedek’s stones give him relief from his misery. The stones serve as an omen that the old man remains with him in spirit, protecting and guiding him, allowing him to choose his Personal Legend as an adventurer seeking his treasure. He realizes he doesn’t have to view himself as a victim, and he can continue along his journey.

It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired. Tangier was no longer a strange city, and he felt that, just as he had conquered this place, he could conquer the world.

The narrator provides insight into Santiago’s mind and heart. Here, he muses about the language that everyone understands as he picks up the two stones Urim and Thummim while in the shop of the crystal merchant. As Santiago prepares to leave Tangier to return to Andalusia with the intention of purchasing a larger flock of sheep, these thoughts mark the beginning of his change of mind. Santiago realizes that he can find his way through any circumstance, no matter what befalls him, and live out his Personal Legend.

In his pursuit of the dream, he was being constantly subjected to tests of his persistence and courage. So he could not be hasty, nor impatient. If he pushed forward impulsively, he would fail to see the signs and omens left by God along his path.

Santiago reflects on the power of being patient as he and the Englishman arrive at the oasis. Such an understanding reveals the mental and spiritual progress he has made in his own journey. He learns to trust the omens and his own Personal Legend to reveal both truth and next steps. Unlike the Englishman, impatient to be taught alchemy, Santiago begins to realize that the omens are the language of God that will guide him and teach him.

“Because my eyes are not yet accustomed to the desert,” the boy said. “I can see things that eyes habituated to the desert might not see.”

Santiago responds to a chieftain, who has asked why the desert would reveal an omen to Santiago, a stranger in the land, rather than to one of them—the men of the desert. The circumstance reveals that Santiago’s wisdom has grown beyond that of the chieftains. He understands what they cannot because he is a stranger, not in spite of it. Santiago’s response indicates that someone who lives in a situation may be blind to its truths.

The boy reached through to the Soul of the World, and saw that it was a part of the Soul of God. And he saw that the Soul of God was his own soul. And that he, a boy, could perform miracles.

The narrator relates the moment Santiago engages in a conversation with the wind and the sun as he tries to transform himself into the wind to satisfy the Arabs. In doing so, he fulfills his Personal Legend and becomes part of the Soul of the World. The intense, hot wind, the simum, blows hard and strong as both the air and the sun help Santiago. The men watching become terrified at witnessing what they believe to be sorcery. The alchemist knows simply that the boy understands the glory of God and Nature.

The boy fell to his knees and wept. He thanked God for making him believe in his Personal Legend, and for leading him to meet a king, a merchant, an Englishman, and an alchemist.

The narrator describes Santiago’s actions upon finally seeing the Pyramids from the top of a dune illuminated by moonlight. As he cries, his tears fall onto the sand and a scarab beetle emerges, an omen. Santiago begins to dig into the sand, mistakenly convinced that his treasure was beneath the sand. As he digs, Arabs find him, rob him of his gold, and beat him nearly to death. However, one of them tells Santiago where to find his treasure—back in Spain.

The boy told himself that, on the way toward realizing his own Personal Legend, he had learned all he needed to know, and had experienced everything he might have dreamed of.

After beholding the Pyramids, Santiago muses about all he has learned on his journey. While profound, his thoughts are ironic or at least premature as he still has one more lesson to learn. Soon, Arabs will rob and beat him, yet one will reveal where his treasure truly awaits: back in Spain. Upon learning this truth, Santiago decides to return to where he began his journey to find his treasure, and then rejoin Fatima.

The boy stood up shakily, and looked once more at the Pyramids. They seemed to laugh at him, and he laughed back, his heart bursting with joy. Because now he knew where his treasure was.

The narrator reveals Santiago’s state of mind after being beaten by the Arabs, one of whom reveals where his treasure could be found. The Arab indicates his treasure awaits back in Spain, under the roots of a sycamore tree near a ruined church, the very spot where he once rested with his sheep. Santiago laughs because he realizes he had to come all this way to learn this one truth from one of the Arabs, who dismissed this vision in his own recurring dream. Despite all that he has endured, the news brings Santiago great joy because he now understands that his quest will end in fulfillment, wealth, and wisdom.