In Coelho's The Alchemist, at first Santiago believes that his sheep do not consider anything beyond eating and sleeping. He believes that they have no way of understanding that life might have a deeper purpose: after all, they are only animals. However, this is, in many ways, the way Santiago has lived—how most people live. He has had dreams but for some time, he has never acted on them. When he finally decides to set off and sees that there is more to life than working each day in a long progression of repetitious behaviors—through an seemingly meaningless life—that Santiago learns that there is purpose in life if one will only be willing to search it out.
There is foreshadowing in the first few pages to indicate that this may not always be the case:
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