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1. What is the name of the shepherd boy? How long has he been a shepherd? What is the name of the region in Spain where he grazes his flock? 2. What is important about why Santiago becomes a shepherd rather than a priest, like his parents wanted him to be? Why did he make the choice to leave the seminary at the age of sixteen after learning to read and write? What does being a shepherd allow him to do instead of studying books? 3. As Santiago considers why he needs to keep his jacket, even though he spends most of the day carrying it around in the heat, a central theme of his hero’s journey is introduced. The jacket, therefore, is a symbol, or something that is itself but also represents something else or something deeper or lesson (Think about what “you” might carry with you when you leave home). Why do you think he carries the jacket? 4. The boy spends a lot of time reflecting on his flock; he notices that the sheep care only for food and water, and are content to make no decisions of their own, trusting him to care for them. What might the habits of these sheep symbolize? Is there any similarity between their life and the lives of the boy’s parents? 5. How is the boy different from others? 6. The novel begins with the boy deciding to spend the night with his flock in an abandoned church. The church has no roof and an enormous sycamore tree has grown up there. Here he has a recurring dream for the second time. He travels to Tarifa in the hope that a gypsy woman will be able to interpret his dream and tell him what it means. Describe the dream that the boy tells the woman about and explain what she tells him it means. 7. “Dreams are the language of God,” says the gypsy woman. What might she mean by this? 8. In Tarifa, Santiago meets an old man while sitting on a bench in the marketplace. At first, the old man annoys him. Then the old man reveals that he knows the names of everyone in Santiago’s life, which catches Santiago’s attention. The old man says he is a king, and his mysterious knowledge supports his claim. The old man tells Santiago the book he is reading, like almost all other books, contains the world’s greatest lie. What is this lie? 9.The old man, whose name is Melchizedek, tells the boy he is from Salem. (Note that there is a character in the Bible named Melchizedek who was king of Jerusalem, also called Salem.) He tells Santiago that when people are young, they all know their reasons for being, but they give up too soon. He has sensed that Santiago is on the verge of trying to realize his Personal Legend. According to the old king, what is a Personal Legend? 10.The old king tells Santiago that he often appears in people’s lives just at the moment they are about to give up on their destiny. He appears in many different disguises. What are some of the forms or “guises” he takes? 11. King Melchizedek tells the boy that when we are children, “everything is clear and everything is possible,” but as time passes a mysterious force convinces us to abandon our dreams. Do you think this is true? What are the “mysterious forces” that threaten to hold us back as we grow older?

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