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What did the alchemist mean when he said, in Coelho's The Alchemist, "because that's...

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adventurer22 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:28 AM via web

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What did the alchemist mean when he said, in Coelho's The Alchemist, "because that's what makes a heart suffer the most and hearts don't like to suffer"?

"We never stop speaking out but we begin to hope that our words won't be heard: we don't want people to suffer because they don't follow their hearts."

"Why don't people's hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams?"

"Because that's what makes a heart suffer most and hearts don't like to suffer."

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:27 PM (Answer #1)

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In Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, the alchemist speaks about what makes the heart suffer and that hearts don't like to suffer.

"We never stop speaking out but we begin to hope that our words won't be heard: we don't want people to suffer because they don't follow their hearts."

"Why don't people's hearts tell them to continue to follow their dreams?" the boy asked the alchemist.

"Because that's what makes a heart suffer most and hearts don't like to suffer."

I believe that this exchange basically speaks to the suffering one must go through by following a dream of the heart. Because of the pain that may come from following a dream, the heart begins to speak more quietly hoping that it will be ignored. In this way, there will be no suffering. We can assume that the alchemist is saying that there is pain to be expected in trying to reach one's dreams.

This is certainly the case of Santiago. In his pursuit of his Personal Legend, he is robbed and experiences great self-doubt. It is so bad that at one point he is ready to return to his homeland and spend the rest of his life as a shepherd, never fulfilling his dream to see the Pyramids.

There was a moment of silence so profound that it seemed the city was asleep. No sound from the bazaars, no arguments among the merchants, no men climbing to the towers to chant. No hope, no adventure, no old kings or Personal Legends, no treasure, and no Pyramids. It was as if the world had fallen silent because the boy's soul had. He sat there, staring blankly through the door of the cafe, wishing that he had died, and that everything would end forever at that moment.

Clearly, the wish of Santiago's heart has brought him to a place of great pain. However, as the book continues, we find that he overcomes his disappointment and heartache to ultimately reach his Personal Legend.

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