What is the story of the Baker in The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho?
The story of the Baker is told to Santiago by Melchizedek, the King of Salem. It's basically about how the Baker botched his Personal Legend by making "safe" decisions. Apparently, the Baker wanted to do a lot of traveling during his life, but figured that saving money during life and traveling at an older age would work best. He chose a life of family, children, and some prestige (more than what a shepherd would have) rather than risking time and energy on doing what he really wanted to do, which was traveling. The King of Salem profoundly explains:
"In the long run, what people think about shepherds and bakers becomes more important for them than their own Personal Legends"(23).
Melchizedek uses the Baker as an example of where safe decisions can lead. He wants the boy to realize that even though discovering our Personal Legends can be scary, in the end, we are happier people. Ultimately, a person who achieves his/her full potential in life won't look back on life with regrets.