The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a story of a young shepherd, Santiago, who dreams of travel and to leave the spanish countryside. He abandons everything and goes in search of a treasure he saw in his dreams. During his journey he learns to listen to his heart, follow the language of omens and meets an alchemist who helps him to accomplish his dream. The story teaches you to follow your dreams by seeing the world through your own eyes and not someone else’s.This is a novel about love, personal journey, how to follow your own dreams. Santiago consults a gypsy woman to interpret the dream, and to his surprise she tells him to go to Egypt. A strange, old man named Melchizedek, who claims to be the King of Salem, echoes the gypsy’s advice and tells Santiago that it is his personal legend to journey to the pyramids. Melchizedek convinces Santiago to sell his flock and set off to Tangier. When Santiago arrives in Tangier, a thief robs him, forcing him to find work with a local crystal merchant. The conservative and kindly merchant teaches Santiago several lessons, and Santiago encourages the merchant to take risks with his business. The risks pay off, and Santiago becomes a rich man in just a year. Santiago decides to cash in his earnings and continue pursuing his Personal Legend: to find treasure at the pyramids. He joins caravan crossing the Sahara desert toward Egypt and meets an englishman who is studying to become an alchemist. He learns a lot from the Englishman during the journey. For one, he learns that the secret of alchemy is written on a stone called the Emerald Tablet. Santiago learns the Englishman is traveling with the caravan to the Saharan oasis of Al-Fayoum, where a powerful, 200-year-old alchemist resides. The Englishman plans to ask the alchemist the secret of his trade. As it turns out, the caravan must make an extended stop in Al-Fayoum in order to avoid increasingly violent tribal wars taking place in the desert. There, Santiago falls in love with Fatima, who lives at the oasis. During a walk in the desert, Santiago witnesses an omen that predicts an attack on the historically neutral oasis. He warns the tribal chieftains of the attack, and as a result, Al-Fayoum successfully defends itself against the assault. The alchemist gets word of Santiago’s vision and invites Santiago on a trip into the desert, during which he teaches Santiago about the importance of listening to his heart and pursuing his personal legend. He convinces Santiago to leave Fatima and the caravan for the time to finish his journey to the pyramids, and he offers to accompany Santiago on the next leg of his trip.The alchemist teaches Santiago about the soul of the world and how it can speak to you. He teaches little about alchemy to him but instead reminds Santiago of his personal legend and that it there’s no alchemy in it. They are a few days away from the pyramids when a tribe of Arab soldiers captures them. In exchange for his life and the life of Santiago, the alchemist hands all of Santiago’s money and tells the soldiers that Santiago is a powerful alchemist who will turn into wind within three days. Santiago is alarmed because he has no idea how to turn into the wind, and over the next three days he contemplates the desert. On the third day, he communicates with the wind and the sun and tells them to help him create a sandstorm. He prays to the Hand That Wrote All, and at the height of the storm he disappears. He reappears on the other side of the camp, and the tribesmen, awed by the power of the storm and by Santiago’s ability, let him and the alchemist go free. The alchemist then leaves him because he has his own path to follow. Santiago then finally arrives to the pyramids, and starts digging in the place he dreamed of. But two men grab him and beat him, when he speaks to them about his dream, they decide he must have no money and let him live. Before leaving, one of the men tries to convince Santiago of the worthlessness of dreams by telling him about his own dream. It concerns a treasure buried in an abandoned church in Spain where a sycamore tree grows. The church is the same one in which Santiago had his original dream, and he finally understands where his treasure is. He returns to Spain to find a chest of jewels and gold buried under the tree, and plans to return with it to Al-Fayoum, where he will reunite with Fatima, who waits for him.There are many themes in this book, all connected to each other. The biggest themes are personal journey, that your success has a ripple-effect, always take action and to keep getting back up. All of these themes have their own meaning. But each play a vital role in santiago’s journey, teaching him different lessons. The most known and celebrated theme of the book is to follow your dreams. The old king at the beginning of the book told Santiago that “Whoever you are, or whatever is it that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” (1.118). To inspire him to go on his journey and listen to the omens to find the treasure. That quote leads to the underlying premise of the “soul of the world/universe” which pops up a lot in the book. A basic answer to what is the soul of world is equated to God and is a spiritual force that binds all of us together and governs all things and that speaks with us in the language of signs or omens. Whether you believe in a God or a lard spiritual force this book still finds its way to connect to you, mentioning alongside the soul of world it talks about the interconnectedness that we are all under. To follow your dreams it requires taking action so that you do follow your dreams. A quote from Paulo Coelho himself, “There is only one way to learn. It’s through action.” This is shown when Santiago is talking to The Englishman. During their journey they discuss each others knowledge, The Englishman learn through reading, Santiago learns through experience and listening to the soul of the world. At the beginning of the book Santiago is reading a book, and talks about all the wondrous adventures each character goes on. He knew one day his adventures would end, the narrator states “heSantiago knew that shepherds, Like seamen and traveling salesmen, always found a town where there was someone who could make them forget the joys of carefree wandering” (1.8). Santiago’s sheep symbolize the existence lived by those who are completely blind to their personal legends. He love his sheep, but he also expresses thinly veiled disrespect for them because of their animal desires for mere food and water. He believes the sheep do not appreciate all the wonderful land they discover during their travels together. He describes an image telling us how blindly trusting his sheep are that he could kill them one by one without them noticing. These sheep then symbolize some characters in the book such as the baker and the crystals merchant who do not pursue their personal legends. Like the sheep, these characters are content with their material desires and societal acceptance. They lose the ability to appreciate certain aspects of creation, and tend to miss out on many opportunities handed to them because of their limited perspectives.Along with Santiago’s urge to travel, he has to overcome primary obstacle to successfully achieve his personal legend. He experiences several forms of fear: a childhood fear of having his dream interpreted; a material fear of losing his wealth by departing to Tangier or by joining the desert caravan; the physical fear of dying at battle at Al-Fayoum; and the spiritual fear that he will fail to turn himself into the wind when the alchemist forces him to try. Santiago deals with doubt throughout his journey, when he has to leave the oasis and leave Fatima he debates on it. Thinking that if he leaves and continues his journey she will forget him or fall out of love. She then reassures him reminding him that where she lives, all the women wait, because their husbands are out at war. It also took Santiago courage to leave his sheep to the Melchizedek and go find the treasure. When he drops everything to pursue his personal legend it reminds him that life doesn’t come with guarantees sometimes you just have to take a chance. One more obstacle that Santiago had to deal with was the interference of love. When he first learned about his journey, he thought of a girl he was in love with before Fatima. The daughter of a merchant whom he’d see now and again when he would sell wool from his sheep. He had second thoughts about leaving but knew that if he would ever be with her he would have to settle and never travel again. Then when he meets Fatima in the oasis, Santiago learns that love can wait. And as the saying goes: “if you love something let it go. if it was meant to be, it will come back to you.” Fatima is the love that doesn’t interfere, she encourages Santiago to go out and complete his journey reminding him that she will still be and still be in love. A quote from Fatima, “When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you, and even men can turn themselves into the wind” (2.648). She said this when Santiago was trying to give her reasons that he loved her, but she did not need a reason because she knew he loved her and that was all that mattered. There is not explanation of love, or at least why you love who you do, you can make a long list of what you like about them but it doesn’t fully explain why you do love them. Santiago learns that during his journey it’s not just the physical treasure that is his goal, this is his personal legend. And for it to be a personal legend it has to have lessons. One lesson is that of love, he learns about unconditional love. Santiago states before he leaves for the Pyramids, “I have crossed the desert in search of a treasure that is somewhere near the Pyramids, and for me, the war seemed a curse. But now it’s a blessing, because it brought me to you” (2.278). He has met so many people and learned many things along his journey yet the most personal and important one is meeting Fatima, she teaches him to be patient and he’s thought her that being patient pays off. When Santiago meets her he also learns more about the soul of world and the language it spoke; “When he looked into her dark eyes, and saw that her lips were poised between a laugh and silence, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke—the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love” (2.256). This is a big part of his journey and his goal to understand the language of the world, he is finally understanding it. This helps for when he needs to turn into the wind and talks to the desert and the other forces of earth.From Kelly Gallagher’s reasons for reading “I chose reading is rewarding” because this book left me with thoughts of my life and my own personal legend. This book has so many meanings embedded in it and everyone interprets each meaning in different ways. When looking for quotes and reviews of the book to help me understand the meaning of it more. I found that this novel had inspired many people to go out and purse their personal legend, to travel and question their own lives. I did not feel like my time was wasted when I was done reading. This was a nice book to read at this time in my life, when I and thinking about the future and college. In this time college is expected, getting a job right after is expected. And if you do anything but that you are not following the correct path to live a ‘good life’, a money filled life, when many people are happy not going to college or having a corporate job. The book reminded me that many people settle for what they are expected to do and never explained off of that and too a risk. The characters such as the crystal marcher and the baker, who dreamed of doing something and going somewhere but were too scared so they settled for what was comfortable and expected. Coelho wrote words that emphasized thoughts and feeling you had about your fears or love. The book was a like a breath of fresh air, while it is a basic book about adventure and love, it doesn’t center itself around those two themes. Instead in combines them all and creates a story about a treasure that is not physically attainable. While the plot is simple and it doesn’t pull out many unexpected turns. It’s a light read but reminds you of messages you may have forgot and makes you keep remembering them while reading and even after you’ve finished.