The alchemist

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The Fear of the Unknown
In the alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Santiago’s greatest obstacle is overcoming his fear of the unknown. As the boy goes to the ticket booth to buy a ticket to Africa, he comes to the realization, “If he sold just one of his sheep, he’d have enough to get to the other shore of the strait. The idea frightened him.” (26). Santiago is fearful because he doesn’t know what will happen if he leaves. He knows his sheep and the lands of Andalusia, but does not know what will occur if he leaves what he knows for the vast mysterious desert to achieve his personal legend. The alchemist wants the boy to understand, “If a person is living out his Personal Legend, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure” (141). Santiago must accept the fact that he will not let fear of what he cannot do affect what he can do. Also, he must not let fear cloud his judgment of what his heart thinks. He does not know what will happen so he fears of what cannot be predicted. Finding a way to manage with his fear of the unknown is a constant challenge for Santiago. Even though he knows he should pursue his personal legend into the desert, Santiago has second thoughts when “He reminds himself that he had been a shepherd, and that he could be a shepherd again. Fatima was more important than his treasure” (95). The boy debates whether he should leave the oasis with the alchemist to fulfill his personal legend or stay with his love Fatima. He is scared because he does not know what will be the outcome of their relationship if he leaves Fatima. He worries if their love will last even if they aren’t together. He is afraid to take the risk because he won’t know the result until he returns. The boy has many obstacles on his journey but finding a way to cope with his fear of the unknown is an ongoing challenge for Santiago throughout the book.

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