In Coelho's The Alchemist, why is it important that Santiago not remain at the Pyramids?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Coelho's The Alchemist, the alchemist knows that Santiago's Personal Legend does not end with the Pyramids. This is why the leader of the robbers is important in directing Santiago in the way he should go. When Santiago arrives the Pyramids, he begins to dig because of his recurring dream. The robber tells him:

Two years ago, right here on this spot, I had a recurrent dream, too. I dreamed that I should travel to the fields of Spain and look for a ruined church where shepherds and their sheep slept. 

The robber who has not paid attention to his dream is lost. Nothing could convince him to search for omens and take on a journey fueled by faith, in order to find that which the universe has in store for him. 

Once Santiago arrives at the Pyramids, and hears the dream of the robber, he understands that he has fulfilled his quest to see the Pyramids, and now has the information necessary to retrieve his treasure. Ironically, the treasure leads him home—almost to his own back yard. This part of his journey is temporary as well: as he returns home, he is drawn to Fatima for he knows that the love of his life is waiting for him at the oasis. 

The alchemist believes that greatness lies within Santiago—and an opportunity for love. Money means a lot to many people, but it cannot buy true love. Everything centers on love and knowing that you are part of something much greater: the entire universe. Santiago has learned to speak the language of the desert and the wind, but he now understands that to travel back to Spain, he will realize that which his dreams sent him to find in the first place. If he stays at the Pyramids, he will not see his dream come to pass. Instead, he will learn (as the alchemist tells him) to resent never finishing his quest for his Personal Legend, and that Fatima will feel to blame.

In the end, Santiago realizes the Pyramids were a lure to take him away from what he knew in order to teach him. Santiago asks (across the miles) if the alchemist could not have saved him a beating in the desert by telling him to avoid the Pyramids—for his answer does not truly lie there. The alchemist responds:

If I had told you, you wouldn't have seen the Pyramids. They're beautiful, aren't they?

The universe didn't want Santiago at the Pyramids: it wanted him to dream of going there, and in getting there, to realize his Personal Legend. For his Personal Legend was not to be found at the Pyramids, but simply a part of his journey to find his "treasure"—which appears to be Fatima.