In The Alchemist, Santiago tells how the sheep enhance his life. What characteristics and aspects of the sheep help Santiago live a happier life?

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A lot of times I think that people wear their "busyness" as a badge of honor.  They feel that if every minute of every day is filled with something, then they are somehow better off or better than a person that is less busy.  Thoreau's emphasis on "simplicity, simplicity, and simplicity" is largely missing from daily modern life I believe.  

Santiago's sheep enhance his life and allow him to live happier, because they offer simplicity.  I don't believe that being a shepherd is easy, but the sheep for the most part are predictable and do what he wants them to do.  He knows what to expect from them, and he has a great deal of control over them.  Santiago isn't even necessarily bored by them, because he admits that he "usually learns more from sheep than from books."  The sheep offer Santiago a happy life because they offer a simple, content life. 

Of course Santiago eventually grows restless and wants to leave the life of a shepherd in order to pursue his personal legend.  He goes on a fantastic adventure, but it is fraught with danger.  Santiago frequently debates giving up and just going back to the life he knows and the life that he knows allowed him to be content.  The sheep might not be glamorous like a personal legend, but I could argue that being content is equivalent to being happy.  

annieb5 | Student

The sheep follow him, and his shepherd's life gives him simplicity and peace. He says that he "usually learns more from [his] sheep than from books," demonstrating that lessons can be learned from aspects of life other than the traditional methods we might first think of (5). But, even though he learns a lot from his sheep, and him and his sheep help each other, he is eventually pushed to leave the comfort of his shepherd's life to pursue his Personal Destiny- Coelho's philosophy for living a meaningful life. Santiago has more opportunities open up to him- he pursues his Personal Legend- and so he must sacrifice his shepherd's life to begin this pursuit.