The Alchemist is a journey of self discovery on which Santiago goes from Spain to Africa and back to Spain to find the fulfillment of the legends of his life. In Africa, Santiago trusts explicitly and has all his money and possessions stolen from him; shares a vision and finds himself mortally threatened; works and struggles only to find himself imprisoned and beaten to within a breath of life before he finds the clue that takes him back to beginning place. In a far more complex version of the Wizard of Oz mantra, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home," Santiago finds his quest for gold fulfilled, if not right in his back yard, at least in his own neighborhood and country. The Alchemist weaves together the triplet themes of discovering your true identity; believing in yourself with all your heart; and following your dreams against all obstacles.
The book "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho was published initially in Brazil in 1988. It is the story of a shepard boy who goes on a quest to follow his dreams and to find a treasure. Santiago, the shepard sells his sheep to be able to go on his quest toward the pyramids. Throughout the quest he has to learn to read omens and overcome obstacles. The basic conflict that Santiago has in the story is to overcome obstacles in order to follow his dream. He comes to realize that if a person wants something bad enough he can accomplish it with drive and persistence.