What are Santiago's character flaws in the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho?

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, being human, Santiago must have character flaws, but they are few and seem to relate to his youth and naivete.

First, Santiago is very trusting. Because he spends a great deal of time herding sheep, he is not often in the company of society, and without the experience of dealing with money, these details make him a perfect target when he is robbed.

Before he learns to know better, Santiago also believes that life's true treasure lies in things of material value. This is why he begins his journey to the Pyramids in the first place: his recurring dream shows him treasure for which he is searching.

Later, when Santiago travels with the Englishman, he is too quick to believe the Englishman who suggests that Santiago must read books in order to fulfill his dream. It is only after the boy tries to do so that Santiago realizes that he cannot follow the Englishman's path, but must stick to his own—he cannot live the life of another.

Whereas some readers might think that Santiago's fear of failure when the alchemist promises the general that the boy can turn himself into the wind, might be a shortcoming, I disagree. Santiago is a child of the natural world. He speaks the universal language and watches for omens around him, to guide his steps. He has yet to fully learn of the Soul of the World and has no concept of approaching the Soul of God, so I cannot see this as a character flaw: he simply does not know the extent to which his learning will take him.

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The Alchemist

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