Many people ponder the idea of there being external, uncontrollable forces that dictate the outcomes of people’s lives. This idea frightens some, as people desire control of their own lives and destinies. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho focuses on a shepherd named Santiago as he completes an arduous excursion for treasure that is deemed his “Personal Legend”. Coelho employs the use of the motif of omens that guide Santiago on his journey to portray the theme that one must pursue their predestined ambitions and meaning in life.
The prevailing element that guides Santiago are the various signs and omens that he encounters. Throughout the novel there are subtle indications of what choices Santiago should make. This first omen comes to him through his dream and meeting with both the gypsy and King of Salem, where he was transported to the Egyptian pyramids and told that “if you come here, you will find a hidden treasure” (Coelho 13-14).
These signs continue later on as he almost gave up on his pursuit after working with the crystal merchant, but the two stones, Urim and Thummim, that were given to him by the King fell out of his jacket. This caused Santiago to reconsider and recall the King had told him to “Never stop dreaming” (Coelho 62) and “Follow the omens” (Coelho 62) such as this. These omens are what lead Santiago to pursue the choices he does. Furthermore, he realizes his true purpose that he must achieve. Due to this, he decides to venture in search of the treasure and the Universe communicates this goal to him.
As Santiago’s journey continues, he receives even more omens that aid him in successfully completing his mission. This includes his venture through the desert and stay at the oasis where a vision as he observes hawks warns him of an impending attack. This omen is revealed to Santiago because when God reveals the future, it is “a future that was written so as to be altered” (Coelho 103). At the conclusion of his journey at the pyramids, Santiago is also given another omen as “where his tears had fallen, a scarab beetle was scuttling through the sand” (Coelho 161).
Both of these omens allowed Santiago to further complete his task in life. Due to his vision, he was able to save the oasis from attack that would have impeded his journey. Also, if he had not dug where his tears had fallen, he would not have met the men that reveal to him the treasure is under the tree back where he started. These omens were integral in providing the guidance necessary for Santiago to create a life where he fulfilled his destiny.
Coelho communicates the theme of how one must follow their predestined dream and mission in life through the recurring use of omens that appear to guide Santiago on his “Personal Legend”. These omens assist Santiago in making decisions that lead to the successful outcome of his undertaking. Without the omens to guide him, he would not have even known of his personal quest. The omens he received were uncontrollable forces, but he had the resolve to follow them which made his destiny transpire. Although one’s destiny may not be their own, it is up to the individual to pursue it.