The Alchemist (Coelho)

The novel opens with Santiago thinking about his sheep. What does he observe about their existence? How might the sheep symbolize the way some people live their lives? How does this observation that they "have forgotten to rely on their own instincts" fo

I just finished reading the Alchemist. Amazing book. I had to do an assignmnet and I was stuck on a question. My mind is blank. I would really appreciate it if you could give me a general idea.

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Santiago observes that, although content, they (the sheep) are only concerned with eating and sleeping. They do not contemplate life, a higher purpose or spiritual matters. Santiago wonders if this is also the case with most people. He wonders if he is content to simply eat and sleep through life without any sort of deeper understanding or meaning. This is actually an age old question. In Hamlet Act 4, Hamlet asks the same question, "What is a man, If his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed?" Santiago's observation is, in part, the catalyst for his adventure to the pyramids and his search for treasure. This quest becomes his self-awakening and enlightenment.