In exploring the conflict between free will and fate Santiago, the shepherd, dreams of a treasure that is far beyond his means and abilities, he sets off to Egypt and learns that in life one has to earnestly listen to what his heart tells him and to realize that his own self and fate can control his life. He also realizes that fate has a way of helping us as individuals to realize our dreams and aspirations. In his personal life, Santiago was a humble shepherd whose needs were limited to acquiring freedom of movement with his animals. He is someone who despised boundaries as they would prevent him from accessing pastures far and beyond. He needed his wineskin to be full always and a book in his bag. With these few ‘wants’ he was contented and could do anything to be happy. This background allowed him to suspend what fate had for him and used his free will to search for the treasure in his dreams. This is the ultimate point at which the conflict between fate and free will comes into play. What if he succeeded in getting the treasure and became a rich man? What if he died in the course of finding the treasure? He threw all caution to the wind, disregarded his fate/destiny and used his free will to go for the treasure hunt. This is the conflict that Santiago had to compel with in order to set out for the journey.
The dream of the treasure hidden several miles away under the Egyptian pyramids is a revelation that oft happens to all human beings. Fate subjects almost every individual to big dreams and very few people dare to pursue what they dream of. It is this perspective where the human being hangs in the balance of personal choice versus fate. Verily, the text says that “At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate.”(Coelho, 1988 pg 19) from a common mans point of view, the departure of Santiago to Egypt was heroic and somewhat a hefty gamble. This is so because very few people dare to brave the winds. This is why the wise Melchizedek poses these words to suggest that at times its better if we lose ourselves and let nature control our lives on our behalf because natures call works for the benefit of man, only if man listens to it.