"The only things that concerned the sheep were food and water...Yes, their days were all the same...and they had never read a book in their young lives, and didn't understand when the boy told them about the sights of the cities." (pg. 7)
"But the crystal merchant had no choice. He had lived thirty years of his life buying and selling crystal pieces, and now it was too late to do anything else." (pg. 30)
During the beginning of the story, when Santiago did not know anything about Personal Legends, he unintentionally disrespects his loving sheep. He thinks his sheep do not appreciate Santiago's greatest adventures and the wonders of the world. The sheep symbolize the characters in the story who do not attempt to achieve their Personal Legends, like the crystal merchant for example. The sheep were used to put Santiago's perspective into shape. What he thinks about humans subtly come from how he thinks sheep behave and act. The author also used the sheep as somewhat like an omen and the sheep make Santiago realize that he must recognize his own Personal Legend. This enhances the story's meaning because it explains that the characters who don't follow their Personal Legend, end up suffering from regret and don't receive the same kind of wealth and enlightenment as those who pursue their Personal Legend.
The symbolism of the sheep generally means:
- Sheep spirit animals represent an innocent aspect of yourself; your childhood, child-like qualities characterized by innocence, gentleness
- Vulnerability with a negative meaning, weakness, vulnerability that could turn into powerlessness
- Vulnerability with a positive meaning: Self-acceptance, ability to respect your own limits
- A common meaning for the sheep totem is a part of yourself that tends to conform to social norms or family values.
The sheep in the famous saying, "black sheep of the family" is somewhat similar to not achieving Personal Legends. But instead of Personal Legends, black sheep are regarded as a disgrace, to family or a group. Sheep are also signs for mythology and religion. For example in the Christian religion sheep are known to be the animal that they sacrifice to their God and sheep are also thought of as the purest animals, they also think of Jesus as a shepherd. Concluding that Jesus leads the sheep (humans) in their spiritual journey.