What is Santiago's biggest fear?

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In Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, the main character, Santiago, has many fears. Santiago's main fear is failure. He frequently worries that he is making the wrong choices and that the choices he makes are negatively impacting his future and stopping him from finding his personal legend.

For example, Santiago's family wishes for him to become a priest. While Santiago considers this possibility, he ultimately knows that this is not something that will make him happy or help him fulfill his personal legend. Santiago also worries about the choice he makes to leave Fatima. He understands that in order to fulfill his personal legend, he needs to continue his quest alone, and if Fatima is supposed to be a part of his life, he will meet her again. He is unsure if he is making the right choice and hopes his choices will not fail him while pursuing his personal legend.

Through his experiences, choices, and relationships, Santiago learns to overcome his fear of failure.

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Another way we can interpret Santiago's biggest fear is through the way he thinks about time. Santiago learns from the camel driver that he should try and live his life in the present. It does not help to dwell on the future or past because they detract from the omens present in one's life.

Throughout the novel, we see Santiago learning to deal with his fear of not living life in the present. He stops dwelling on what could have been in his past if he remained a shepherd. He stops worrying about his future with Fatima or the possibility of death, because he knows the events of his life are already fated on his Personal Legend quest.

Santiago must constantly fight against the uncertainty of the future and nostalgia for the past. He fears the warriors and enemies he encounters during his travels, but by the end of The Alchemist, our protagonist has overcome his biggest fear—a fear that all humans must face: the difficulty of experiencing time.

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As Santiago's character is developed more, the fears he holds become more complex.  They are the type of fears that strike at not merely his being, but at the condition of all human beings.  For example, one of Santiago's biggest fears is whether or not he is denying his own opportunity to embrace something larger or grander in his life.  While he knows being a priest would make his father happy and would conform to what social expectations around him, Santiago understands that this is not going to make him happier. This is not going to yield something more worthwhile in his being.  One of Santiago's biggest fears is that he will not achieve this condition of being.  Santiago realizes that there is a fear in not being what he can be, but rather acquiescing to what he is presumed to be.  

From this point, Santiago generates his biggest fear as one of failure.  The fear of failure dominates Santiago's being. It is one in which Santiago must learn to let go in order to find greater success.  For Santiago, this is something that becomes larger than life for him.  Santiago's fear of failure comes to represent one of his biggest fears.  Failure means the repudiation of Santiago's purpose of being.  Through a combination of self- reliance and understanding help from others, Santiago learns to overcome this fear as he strives for his Personal Legend.  In both fears, one recognizes the fears that are intrinsic to being in the world.  Santiago understands clearly that great risk taken in accomplishing his Personal Legend is accompanied by the fear of failure and of breaking the conformist mold.  Both fears operate in tandem as his biggest concerns in his journey or quest.

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