What do Santiago's parents plan for him, and how does he change that plan?

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Santiago's parents want him to become a priest, so he attends the seminary until he is sixteen years old. While in the seminary, Santiago learns to read. While it is a great honor and accomplishment for a boy from a poor family to become a priest, Santiago soon realizes he is unhappy at the seminary. He courageously tells his father that he wishes for a life of adventure and travel. After his father tries to convince him that every place is the same and is no better than where he lives, he tells Santiago that the only occupation that will allow a poor person to travel is that of a shepherd. His father relents and gives Santiago three gold coins to allow him to buy a flock of sheep to fulfill his dreams of adventure and travel.

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Santiago's parents want him to go to a seminary and train for the priesthood. But Santiago has other ideas; he's determined to follow a different path in life. He wants to travel farther afield, and at that time and in that place, becoming a shepherd was one of the few ways you could do this. Santiago's parents do their best to persuade him to stay—the place where they live is so beautiful, why on earth would anyone want to leave it?—but Santiago is set on exploring the big old world outside. Although Santiago's father is understandably disappointed, he respects his son's decision. He gives him three gold coins to get him started on his new career and buy himself a flock of sheep. Santiago is now able to take the first step on his epic life journey.

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