The trees at the oasis are date palms

The trees at the oasis are date palms -...

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The trees at the oasis are date palms — that is, fruit-bearing trees. This hints at the fact that  Santiago's stay at the oasis will be fruitful — which, in fact, it turns out to be. Readers may think that the important man the alchemist refers to is the Englishman, since he is  searching for the alchemist. The Englishman has studied alchemy for years and carried many books  on the subject across the desert. But something about the alchemist's uncertainty suggests that the  obvious candidate — the Englishman, with all of his books — will not be the alchemist's choice. Up until now we have been thinking of Santiago as the shepherd boy. But Santiago has been  steadily maturing over the course of his journey. A boy no longer, Santiago is the man to whom the  alchemist will teach his secrets. This sudden change in the novel's setting is physically and emotionally dramatic. Previously, the 
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The trees at the oasis are date palms -...

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