The Alchemist

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Santiago’s Heart Character Analysis

Santiago’s heart is given a voice and distinct characteristics as he learns to listen to what it says. His heart is afraid of losing his loved ones and of Santiago not finding his treasure, because the heart knows that it will suffer if these things happen. Santiago also learns from his heart how to hear the Language of the World, and to communicate with the desert, the wind, and the sun.

Santiago’s Heart Quotes in The Alchemist

The The Alchemist quotes below are all either spoken by Santiago’s Heart or refer to Santiago’s Heart. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper One edition of The Alchemist published in 2014.
Part Two Quotes

“People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them, or that they’ll be unable to achieve them. We, their hearts, become fearful just thinking of loved ones who go away forever, or of moments that could have been good but weren’t, or of treasures that might have been found but were forever hidden in the sands. Because, when these things happen, we suffer terribly.”

“My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer,” the boy told the alchemist one

night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.”

Related Characters: Santiago (speaker), The Alchemist (speaker), Santiago’s Heart (speaker)
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

As Santiago travels, he begins to learn in a new way: by listening to his own heart. Santiago has already learned from observing his sheep and the desert. He has seen that observation of one thing can yield universal truths, because it allows the observer to access the Soul of the World, in which all things are connected. Therefore, it has already been established that Santiago will be able to learn large life lessons through the simple practice of observing his own heart. The heart is personified and given a voice, and in this passage it speaks to Santiago and explains its motivations and feelings.

Santiago learns by listening to his heart that it is afraid. This fear, like other examples of fear in the novel, gets in the way of achieving one’s Personal Legend. Ironically, the heart's fear is of precisely that: of not achieving its Personal Legend, of failure. Thus the heart prevents its owner from taking risks that might lead to suffering. When Santiago shares this information with the Alchemist, the Alchemist interprets it into a broader life lesson: that fear of suffering is worse than suffering itself. This is an idea that is familiar beyond the pages of The Alchemist. Often anxiety about the future is worse than actually experiencing that future. This life lesson teaches that humans need to control their fear, so that it doesn’t control them.

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Santiago’s Heart Character Timeline in The Alchemist

The timeline below shows where the character Santiago’s Heart appears in The Alchemist. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Two
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
Alchemy and the Value of Simplicity Theme Icon
...see the power of all of creation. To do this, Santiago should listen to his heart, because it came from the Soul of the World. (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
...where the tribal wars are being waged. As they travel, Santiago practices listening to his heart, but discovers that this is not easy to do. He remembers a time in his... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
Santiago’s heart is agitated and emotional, and keeps him awake at night thinking about Fatima. The alchemist... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
Santiago listens to his heart and comes to understand its changes and contradictions, and he is able to move past... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
Maktub and What is Meant to Be Theme Icon
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
Santiago’s heart becomes restful and quiet, and it begins to tell him things from the Soul of... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
Maktub and What is Meant to Be Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
...to any omens along the way. Because he has now learned to speak to his heart, Santiago will know where his treasure is. The alchemist says that the last thing he... (full context)
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
Alchemy and the Value of Simplicity Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
...rarely believe that you do. With each day of traveling in the desert, the boy’s heart grows more and more silent. It is no longer active with questions—it is simply content... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
Maktub and What is Meant to Be Theme Icon
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
Santiago’s heart points out something that Santiago has never noticed—at various points in his life he has... (full context)
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
The sun is setting that night when Santiago’s heart warns of danger. Two horsemen are waiting for them, and before they can do anything... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
Alchemy and the Value of Simplicity Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
...into his fears. If he remains unafraid, he will be able to listen to his heart. Santiago protests that he has no idea how to turn himself into the wind. The... (full context)
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
Alchemy and the Value of Simplicity Theme Icon
...afraid of his powers. He spends the afternoon observing the desert and listening to his heart. He knows that the desert is aware of his fear, because they speak the same... (full context)
Maktub and What is Meant to Be Theme Icon
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
...the language of the desert and of the wind. Santiago says that it was his heart. The wind is stronger than the desert, because it does not come from any specific... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
Maktub and What is Meant to Be Theme Icon
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
Alchemy and the Value of Simplicity Theme Icon
The Unimportance of Death and Fear Theme Icon
...feels the universe fall silent. Santiago begins to pray. It is a prayer from his heart filled with love. Santiago understands that the desert, the wind, and the sun are seeking... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
Maktub and What is Meant to Be Theme Icon
Santiago rides alone through the desert, listening to his heart. The alchemist had told him “where your treasure is there also will be your heart,”... (full context)
The Pursuit of Your Personal Legend Theme Icon
Maktub and What is Meant to Be Theme Icon
The Interconnectedness of All Things Theme Icon
...finds nothing. His hands hurt and he is exhausted, but he is listening to his heart, which tells him to dig at the place where he cried. (full context)