The story opens with Santiago at a dilapidated church where he stays for the night with his sheep. He dreams a dream for the second time here and decides to go to a gypsy in town to have it read for him. It is with the gypsy that Santiago describes the details of this dream. First, he is in the field with his sheep when a child appears to him. The child then plays with the sheep, which causes him to tell the child to stop. He believes that the sheep don't like strangers. Apparently, the child ignores Santiago in the dream and continues to play with the sheep for a long time. All of a sudden, the child gets up, takes him by both hands, and transports him all the way to the Egyptian pyramids. This is curious to Santiago because in his inexperienced life, he had never even known what the pyramids were; so, having a dream about something he had never seen or known before proves that it is not of his own making. In the dream, the child then says to him, "If you come here, you will find a hidden treasure" (13-14). The dream stops there and Santiago wakes up. The gypsy then postpones payment for the reading and tells him to pay her ten percent when he finds his treasure.
The dream that Santiago has is Egyptian pyramids and treasure.
Dreams are an important motif in the book. On a literal level, they are stories we take part in when we sleep. On a figurative level, they are who we want to be. Santiago is very dream-conscious.
It’s the possibility of having a dream that makes life interesting. (p. 11)
Santiago is obsessed with his dream, his own Personal Legend, and what it means. He seeks out mentors, like the old woman and the gentleman, who can explain it. He travels away from his shepherd’s home to pursue his dream and what it means, only to discover that his dream was waiting for him all along at home.