The Alchemist has many different characteristics that define him as a teacher and a friend, but also a no-nonsense sort who won't waste his time on lost causes. He is a great teacher because he offers his students encouragement and guidance, but also allows them to figure out the answer on their own. The Alchemist not only teaches the main character, Santiago, but he also takes a few moments to set the Englishman on his way with his advice to becoming an alchemist. However, the alchemist doesn't spend any more time with the Englishman than he needs to because Santiago is further ahead in his schooling and needs his attention the most. The alchemist is a friend because he takes the time to walk with Santiago through part of the journey; but again, like a good teacher, he presents Santiago with a problem (turning himself into the wind for the murderous tribesmen) and has faith enough to step back and let Santiago figure out the answer himself.