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MonkeyNotes-Demian by Hermann Hesse
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Sinclair remembers the fear, restraint and persecutory conscience, which he had experienced during his childhood. He again feels persecuted by his conscience as he develops sexual urges. Being a well-brought up child, he has never heard of such a topic being discussed. Thus he is not able to discuss his feelings with anybody.

Though Kromer is no longer present in Sinclairís life, the agony he had caused him remains subdued in his mind. Kromer and other childhood experiences have become an indelible part of his psyche. To these experiences, new problems are added like the problem of puberty. Being from an orthodox family his parents are of no help to him. In such families talking about such problems is a taboo. So children (or rather adolescents) are left to handle such problems themselves. Just like other boys of his age and his kind of upbringing, Sinclair handles them badly.

Sinclairís uncertainty about what he thinks about Demian is expressed when he sees him again. He feels that Demian is neither masculine nor childlike. He is neither old nor young. Yet he seems to be a thousand years old. He is somehow timeless. Perhaps Sinclair likes him. Perhaps he is repulsive. In this way Sinclairís dual feelings about Demian are expressed exactly as he feels without trying to say anything with adornment. Occasionally Demian seems to have supernatural affinities. He seems to be man, animal and god combined in one. In Hindu mythology there is a reference to an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of man and lion. Hermann Hesse was well read in Hindu mythology and Hindu religion. It is possible that he got the idea from there. Sinclair marvels at Demian, who is quite different from the other boys in his class.


Demian tells Sinclair that "one has to be able to crawl completely in oneself like a tortoise." This is an idea from the Bhagwad Geeta, a religious text of the Hindus. The above mentioned statement means that one must withdraw totally from the outside world and take a journey deep within oneself. This is an intense kind of meditation. Here the simile of the tortoise is used because the tortoise is a creature that can totally withdraw the parts of his body. Thus it cannot even be recognized as a tortoise. Since Hermann Hesse was well-read in the Hindu religion texts, it is possible that he got this idea too from the Bhagwad Geeta. Demian too withdraws totally on one occasion. Though he is bodily present, he is totally cut off from everything around him. His withdrawal is the withdrawal into the timeless self. He is motionless and pale as though he is dead. Sinclair is terrified to see him in such a condition. He wonders what this condition actually is, what Demian must be thinking or feeling. He wonders where the inner self of Demian is. Is it in hell or heaven? Thus we know that Demian is transformed from a natural state to the state of an inanimate symbol and represents higher vision. At the end of the class he returns to his normal self. Thus he has been able to come out from his intense withdrawal. Sinclair later tries a similar exercise but does not get any expected result.

Demian is a part of Sinclairís psyche. Even during his physical absence, he remains in Sinclairís mind as a symbol ready to be invoked whenever needed. Yet there are times when Sinclair tries to avoid Demian. He is skeptical about what sort of a person Demian really is. This is partly because there is a lot of gossip regarding Demian. The boys seem to wonder who Demian is. Some even go to the extent of saying that he is his motherís lover. This is really scandalous. Moreover Demianís views are so revolutionary that Sinclair finds it difficult to imbibe them. Sinclair has grown up in a home where tremendous respect for religion is taught. He has always enjoyed Biblical stories and their interpretation. Demianís views are quite contrary to what Sinclair has learnt. Though Demian is never disrespectful to the teachers, he does not accept everything they teach. He disagrees with certain points and expresses his views to Sinclair. He tries to rationalize. The ideas of good and bad keeping changing. However he believes that obvious sins, like raping or killing should never be committed.

The teacher tells the students the story of two thieves. The thief who repented is considered to have become a good man at last and he is approved by religious people. But Demian feels that there is nothing great in repenting so late. According to him, repenting when one is two steps away from the grave is of no use. He approves of the thief who did not repent as he considers him to be more upright. Demian also disapproves of the fact that there is no mention of sexuality in the Old Testament or the New Testament. This is unnatural. He further explains that everything is important. He further explains that everything is important. The priests and teachers merely suppress the so-called bad and sanction the so-called good. This has been the case with Sinclair too. There is much more in him than he can express. This shows that Demian has much insight. Also it is an important truth. The good as well as the bad exist within everybody.

As Sinclair is on the threshold of adulthood, he goes through a radical change not only physically, but also mentally. He is no longer interested in things, which gave him immense joy earlier. Although he is living with his family, he feels very lonely. It is decided that he will be sent to the boarding school after vacation. It is surprising that he does not express his views about the decision taken by his parents. He neither expresses joy, nor sadness about the decision.

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