Describe Santiago’s personal development throughout the story including how in some ways he changed and how in others he remained the same.
Santiago's growth and development is significant in the narrative. His emergence into what he can be from what he is represents the essence of the quest within personal identity. At the same time, some elements of his character are consistent throughout the narrative, representing how goodness and a sense of honor in the world are not qualities that need to change even though other elements within human identity might. It is within this dichotomy that Santiago is shown to be a uniquely distinctive human being and establishing a standard of what is possible from what is given.
Santiago is posited between the world of external expectation and the realm of fulfilling his own subjective. Being poised between both equally desirable, but ultimately incompatible courses of action. He struggles with what he knows he must do, while battling the words of people like his father, who display disdain towards the non- traditional path. Santiago is reflective and thoughtful, characteristics that never leave him. He thinks about his options and what he feels compelled to do, as well as the cost it will exact. When he encounters Melchizedek, he absorbs the king's words about what he knows he must do: "…whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it's because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It's your mission on earth." The establishment of finding his Personal Legend becomes essential to Santiago's being. Santiago absorbs the king's words and it helps to fuel his own understanding of what he must do.
Such an element of reflection combined with subjective conviction helps to define Santiago's identity and how he changes throughout his quest. As Santiago encounters new people on his journey, armed with their own notions of the good, Santiago shows himself to be thoughtful and understanding. He validates their quest, while holding to his own. Even if there is mutual exclusivity between them, Santiago does not reject another's vision as he does not invalidate his own:
The boy went back to contemplating the silence of the desert, and the sand raised by the animals. ‘Everyone has his or her own way of learning things,’ he said to himself. ‘His way isn’t the same as mine, nor mine as his. But we’re both in search of our Personal Legends, and I respect him for that.”
Santiago's experiences with the Englishman shows a level of maturation in him. He recognizes the value of the quest for one's Personal Legend. He understands its importance, and recognizes that this extends to both himself and others around him. Once again, Santiago's reflective nature has not changed, but his understanding of the world has altered and become enhanced.
Santiago changes in how he recognizes the cruelty that exists in the world. He experiences being swindled and cheated. This evokes a new dimension to his being in the world and his quest for his Personal Legend. However, Santiago is able to gain insight into the validity of his own quest and not enabling external reality to dictate it:
But the sheep had taught him something even more important: that there was a universal language in the world that everyone understood, a language the boy had used throughout the time that he was trying to improve things at the shop. 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.
In this resolute notion, it becomes clear that Santiago has changed in gaining a greater understanding and insight into the world. His introspection and thoughtful nature have not changed. Yet, the resolve within him has been fortified. It has come to define who he is and what he can be. For Santiago, his awareness of the world has increased. At the same time, his commitment to what he must do in terms of pursuing his Personal Legend has also magnified.
Santiago's personal development is a significant aspect of the story. Emerging from being his father's son to being his own human being involved change and growth. In his ferocity towards his Personal Legend, to pursue it and truth at all costs, Santiago changes. Yet, the sensitivity he has towards the world and his place in it along with his introspectively thoughtful qualities have not changed. It is in this light where one sees that the human pursuit of Personal Legends alter our own identity. Yet, since they are personal, they reflect a distinct part of our own sense of self that does not evaporate. Like Santiago, we consciousness is defined by the reality of what we carry with us along with the projection of what we can be.