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IMAGERY and SYMBOLISM
Steppenwolf is filled with images and symbols. The most important is the animal imagery and symbolism. Because he has a negative side (as does all mankind), Haller sees himself as a wolf. This negative side is constantly at war with his more human, artistic side. Only in rare moments of happiness are the wolf and man at peace. The Treatise applies the wolf image beyond Haller to all mankind, stating that everyone at times suffers from a general "malaise," a feeling of emptiness about life. It makes a person want to bear his teeth and howl in despair.
Flowers are also symbolic in the novel. Hermine appropriately wears a withered camellia. Like the beautiful flower, she too will die. Maria is likened to a rose, another sweet smelling flower that quickly fades. When Haller is with these women, he likens it to being in a pleasure garden, alluding to the Garden of Eden, where he picks the forbidden fruit. The understanding of his sexual and sensual selves that he gains from Maria and Hermine is part of his growing into self-acceptance.