In Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, how does the Englishman's search for the alchemist compare to Santiago's search for his treasure?  

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Englishman first speaks with Santiago when he sees the boy playing with Urim and Thummim, the stones given to him by Melchizedek. They compare notes about the king who gave them to the boy and realize that they are both on journeys to achieve their Personal Legends. It is at this point that the Englishman wonders if meeting the boy might be an omen. Santiago asks who taught him about omens, whereupon the Englishman reveals that omens are part of the language of the world. It is for this purpose that the Englishman is in the desert and traveling with a caravan--he seeks the alchemist who knows this language and could teach it to him. Because of the similar knowledge shared between them, the Englishman asks the boy if he is searching for the alchemist as well. The following exchange occurs:

"'I'm looking for a treasure,' said the boy, and he immediately regretted having said it. But the Englishman appeared not to attach any importance to it. 'In a way, so am I,' he said" (70-71).

Even though the Englishman and the boy are searching for different things, each one is in search for his Personal Legend. Personal Legends are different for each person, so it doesn't matter what they are searching for. What matters is that the Englishman and Santiago both have much of the same knowledge and information to draw from to help them in their search.

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The Alchemist

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