The Alchemist Questions and Answers
by Paulo Coelho

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What are 5 lessons Santiago learns in The Alchemist?

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One of the most valuable lessons Santiago learns in The Alchemist is the notion that fear is part of living a meaningful life. It is worse to not achieve his goals out of fear than to face fear, Santiago tells his heart: “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” Santiago discovers that discomfort is part of living a life worth living.

A second lesson that Santiago understands is the importance of recognizing the wonder of life around you: “When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” You only perceive every day as the same if you do not recognize all of the small and wonderful details which make it different.

A third lesson, related to the first one mentioned above, is that it...

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The overarching theme and biggest lesson Santiago learns, starting with his meeting with the king Melchizedek, is that each person has a Personal Legend - a path toward following their dreams and in so doing be fully alive and the best person they can be. After this first meeting, he chooses to leave behind his work as a shepherd in favor of pursuing his dream of traveling to the pyramids of Egypt in search of treasure.

Melchizedek also initiates Santiago into following the omens - watching and listening for meaningful occurrences and intuitive feelings linked to them that lead him along on the breadcrumb trail of his Personal Legend.

When Santiago arrives in Africa, his money is stolen by a man pretending to befriend him. He learns from this that in the face of adversity we can choose to see ourselves as victims of circumstance or as adventurers on the quest of our Personal Legends.

In order to regain solid financial footing, Santiago takes a job at a crystal shop. There he befriends the shopkeeper and finds success improving sales at the shop. Under the influence of the shopkeeper, who admits that he keeps his dreams in the realm of fantasy because that way he can remain comfortable, Santiago almost gives up on his dream of the pyramids. Yet in preparing to leave his job and return to his old life, he realizes that he won't truly be happy going back to his old shepherding life or remaining comfortable and unchanging like the shopkeeper. Despite challenges, Santiago learns that happiness lies in pursuing our dreams and challenging ourselves to grow.

Next, Santiago joins a caravan heading for Egypt and finds himself drawn into the camp of an alchemist who takes the boy under his wing and teaches him many lessons. The alchemist teaches him that world has a soul, a guiding force that leads people along in their Personal Legend, and that those who choose to align their hearts with the Soul of the World will be tested along the way to their dreams. Santiago learns that we can align our hearts with the Soul of the World and thus be guided along the path toward wisdom.

As the book comes to a close, Santiago finds himself at last among the pyramids digging for the treasure. He is robbed and beaten by a gang of war refugees. As they finally leave the boy alone, one of them tells him of a dream he had about treasure in the very place Santiago started from. This final lesson shows that the real "treasure" is the wisdom gained through the lessons along the way in pursuit of our dreams.