Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Independent Reading Posts: Siddhartha

Part 1 A

When reading Siddhartha I immediately noticed the flowery use of language. Anaphora is the more apparent technique that Hesse uses. The anaphora is reflective of the subject matter. Buddhism and nature, two of the novels major themes so far, are subjects that tend to be flowery and dramatic. Therefore the use of a technique such as anaphora helps create this quality; it establishes the tone of the novel and subject matter. There are also several series of rhetorical questions. These questions are used to characterize Siddhartha as an inquiring mind or perhaps a confused person in need of guidance. When I noticed the frequency of Siddhartha’s questioning I immediately connected to the Greek philosophical figure Socrates. The Socratic idea of questioning established beliefs and the rejection of blind faith is apparent in the beginning of this novel, more specifically in the characterization of Siddhartha. I just find it interesting how this novel, a novel concerning a completely different culture and religion, can relate to ancient Greek philosophy. Both the themes in Siddhartha and in The Alchemist have this universal quality.

On pages 10 and 11 the heart is mentioned several times. The heart is the source of feelings, intuition and decisions according to these two pages. This further supports the idea of individualism that Hesse establishes. Since the heart is seen as the representation of the Self, the individual, Hesse is trying to establish the idea that one’s heart should determine one’s goals. Hesse pits blind faith and listening to one’s heart against each other. This is clear when Hesse contrasts Govinda and Siddhartha. Govinda immediately follows Buddha while Siddhartha listens to his heart and sets off on his own journey. Just to be more specific, Hesse is comparing blind faith with individualism.

Part 1 B

Responding to Mary’s post 1A, I agree that the anaphora and other repetition is used too frequently to the point where as a reader you feel like Hesse is overemphasizing his point. Also the continuous anaphora gives the text an elevated and overly dramatic tone. While this may establish the tone for the novel, it can become quite distracting for the reader. As for how I feel about Siddhartha, I do agree that he can be rather arrogant, but I do appreciate that he is following what his own being tells him rather than simply accepting what others say. Continuing on the idea I presented in part 1A, I think Hesse characterizes Siddhartha in this specific way in order to present and support the message about blind faith and self-fulfillment. Finally, Mary brought up a great point that I initially overlooked. When comparing Siddhartha and Santiago you mentioned that Santiago left his herd and Siddhartha left his father and the Samanas. Perhaps both authors are making statements about individualism. Leaving the family and companions that one has seems to be the only way to achieve one’s true goal. Both authors could be saying that such people get in the way or totally stop one from reaching their personal goals.

December 23, 2008 10:29 AM

Part 2 A

In this section I thought it the role of nature vs. society was rather interesting. Siddhartha was a Samana who lived in the forest. Here he was being thought spiritual lessons. Here he was gaining substantial religious knowledge but apparently it wasn’t enough to satisfy him. Siddhartha leaves the forest, this place of knowledge, to pursue the type of knowledge he desires. He goes to a grove in what seems to be a town to pursue such knowledge. He even shaves his beard and promises to get new clothes to wear for Kamala’s sake. Sorry for summarizing but my point is that it is unusual that he would enter society and take on societal values in order to find peace and enlightenment. Typically characters in these types of novels escape to the forest and into nature to find self-fulfillment. Hesse may be trying to compare the types of fulfillment: fulfillment one acquires in society versus fulfillment in nature. Nature is used in an opposite way in The Alchemist when Santiago tries to become one with nature and to understand the universal language of nature, in order to achieve his personal goals.

A quick side note. I looked up the name Siddhartha on Wikipedia and it said that that name was the former first name of Gautama Buddha more commonly known simply as Buddha, the creator of Buddhism. It is interesting that this is Siddhartha’s name when another Buddha is mentioned. Which is the real Buddha? I’m confused. Is this novel about the Buddha and are there more than one persons named Buddha, is Buddha simply a common title?

Part 2 B

I agree with Mary that Siddhartha seems to be shedding his old self during his journey. I feel that he is stripping down the layers of his personality in order to discover his true self, the self that is the core of his being. This again goes along with the theme of achieving individualism that I mentioned in my previous posts. The importance of one’s “Self” is stresses so far in the novel and in order to reach one’s purest form, one must rid themselves of the superfluous details of his or her life. This is what Siddhartha is doing.

To respond to your prediction I do see what you are saying. It does seem like Siddhartha is working backwards to achieve his goal. This seems to be an ideal book choice because it contrasts, in this way, well with the journey in The Alchemist.

Finally, I agree that Siddhartha is becoming increasingly arrogant. His greedy character is showing through much more like on page 69 when Siddhartha is eating “everybody’s bread” and when the narrator says that Siddhartha “was never concerned about Kamaswami’s troubles”. Mary brought up a good point, I find it ironic that Siddhartha is trying to influence others to think like him, when he initially embarked on this journey because he didn’t want to be influenced by other’s thoughts anymore.

December 23, 2008 11:15 AM

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