The Pairing of Santiago in Paulo Coelhos The Alchemist
Whether it is a girlfriend, a colleague, or just a friend, people are paired up with opposites many times in life. In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Santiago is a foil for the Englishman and the Crystal Merchant because Santiago’s good qualities shine when being compared to them. The Englishman is selfish and impatient, while Santiago is selfless and patient. For example, when Santiago and the Englishman are looking for the alchemist in the Oasis, Santiago and the Englishman disagree: “Several women dressed in black came to the well for water, but the boy would speak to none of them, despite the Englishman’s insistence”. Santiago refuses to speak to these women because wearing black signals marriage. In the Oasis, it is prohibited for a man to talk to married women. By wanting to bash the tradition in order to find the alchemist, the Englishman is being narcissistic and selfish. On the contrary, Santiago is selfless because although he really wants the Englishman to achieve his dreams, he respects the women. Moreover, Santiago understands that he is in a foreign place, and he needs to act accordingly even though it hinders the Englishman from finding the alchemist. Likewise, the Englishman is very impatient, while Santiago is very patient. Although Santiago keeps on telling him that he will not talk to them, the Englishman keeps on insisting that he speaks to them because he wants to find the alchemist as soon as possible. Santiago realizes that they will eventually find the alchemist, which results in him denying the Englishman’s request, thus acting patient. Santiago takes many smart risks in life, and that is something that sets him and the Crystal Merchant apart.
For instance, Santiago asks the Crystal Merchant to put a display case at the bottom of the hill in order to attract customers. The Crystal Merchant replies, “‘l don’t like much change,’ he said. ‘You and | aren’t like Hassan, that rich merchant. If he makes a buying mistake, it doesn’t affect him much. But we two have to live with our mistakes”’. On one hand, Santiago is a keen risk-taker. Taking huge risks are not always smart, but the risks Santiago takes while he is a shepherd pay off because they are clever. Specifically, in the fields where his sheep roam, there are snakes, and Santiago still lets them graze because it is necessary for the sheep, even though they could die. The risks Santiago takes help him live life to the fullest. On the other hand, the Crystal Merchant is anti-change and anti-risk. These attributes hurt him in his business and his personal life. The risks Santiago takes for him help his business soar. He could become a big-shot merchant if he takes more like Santiago. Furthermore, he refuses to make a pilgrimage to Mecca because he is scared the journey is not worth the reward. In other words, he fears the trip would not meet his expectations, which means he would not have anything else to live for. The Crystal Merchant’s bland life is a result of the lack of risks in his life. In conclusion, it is inevitable that the Crystal Merchant and the Englishman bring out the good qualities Santiago posses, which help Santiago achieve his Personal Legend. Santiago is generous, understanding, and a smart risk taker. This relates to society because these characteristics are key for being successful, and they help you accomplish what you set your heart out for.