What is the particular function of the King of Salem?

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Melchizedek, also known as the King of Salem, is a character from the Bible who has acts as a mentor and a spiritual guide to those who seek to follow their dreams.  He says cryptically that Santiago has succeeded in discovering his “Personal Legend”; the discovery of what people hope most to accomplish in their lifetime. 

However, he explains, over time we begin to doubt ourselves and lose track of our personal quest.  Santiago, finally, is on the right path.   When one is on this proper path, everything in the universe conspires to help you achieve your goals and realize your destiny. 

Although he is a god-like figure, Melchizedek is humanized when Santiago leaves him.  He feels a real love for those who he has helped and “hoped desperately that the boy would succeed.”  But he also understands the transience of human fidelity:  “It’s too bad that he’s quickly going to forget my name,” the King of Salem laments.  “I know it’s the vanity of vanities, as you said my Lord.  But an old king sometimes has to take pride in himself.”