The until now I would prefer to read fewer

The novel “Demian” by Hermann Hesse tells the story of a young man, Emil Sinclair,  of what his childhood was like growing up and his struggle to self-discovery in the immoral world.  As he continues on with telling the story with insightful narrative, Sinclair constantly finds himself caught in between good and  evil, both of which are symbolized as the light and the dark realms. In this essay, I will discuss the impact of this novel and why almost everything the novel talks about can relate to the youth in our current society, as well as to touch upon the novel’s main theme of the duality of mankind and the concept of realism.                                                          Out of the selective amount of books I’ve read so far, I have to admit that “Demian” remains high among the other books in my “favorites” list. I say that it’s among my favorites to read in terms of its content and what I learned from it. It wasn’t the same as before when I had to do book reports for my elementary language arts class; where reading any book seemed like a total burden. Yet I realized that up until now I would prefer to read fewer books in order to fully immerse myself into them. Because “Demian” is quite an insightful book, I had a great time attempting to understand it, and personally I did not expect to find so much connections towards our society’s outlook on the youth.                                                                                                                              Among the important aspects of the novel that I chose to discuss about, the most interesting aspect of the novel is actually its compelling narrative. One of the reasons of why it is so important to emphasize on the narrative is because Hesse’s voice can be spotted along the lines in the prologue. The creation of prose in this novel is done in such a way that the reader begins to question whether the actual narrator/character itself is a true person or a figment of Hesse’s imagination, like Hesse-as-Sinclair mentions,  “…my story is more important to me than some writer’s story is to him, because it is my own, and it is the story of a human being— not an imagined, possible, ideal, or in some other way nonexistent person but a real, unique, living, breathing one.” (1)No such person, or character, is a secondary character in their own lives, which is why another character’s inclusion to the book adds more meaning to Hesse’s statement here, a character who would appear later in the story. Recall that everyone is their own main character, and it is Hesse’s way of telling the reader that not everyone who reads this book would care any less about Sinclair’s story; then again, this is Sinclair’s story and none of the readers are him. There could be instances in which the reader may sympathize with his character, but it is important to realize that everybody lives their own lives and learn what they can from the world. Thus, the introduction of another character; enter: Max Demian, a fervent believer of the existencialist ideology.            Now, I did mention that because this is Sinclair’s story, you’re wondering why the emphasis is all on Demian’s character instead. Before I get into the discussion of the relationship between Sinclair and Demian, I wanted to point this out first. The original story was written in German, thus the raw title for this novel was actually “The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth”, but upon translation from German to English, editors deemed the title “Demian” a more appropriate fit because for the entirety of the novel, Demian’s influence to Sinclair is a key factor to Sinclair growing an interest for knowing more about the world and discovering himself along the way. The best explanation I have for this statement is what the novel itself has taught me: knowing what I know. One of the most influential people that Sinclair has met along the road other than Demian was a man by the name of Pistorius, who told Sinclair, “there is no reality other than what we have inside of us” (21), in other words, only we know and see things through our own perspective which is different to everyone else’s viewpoint. This is where Demian’s quintessential role in the book, as well as Sinclair’s life, comes into play. The point that Hesse was trying to make via Pistorius’s statement is that everyone has a different judgement of the right and wrongs of the world; therefore, no one can for sure say they are completely right when they discuss something related to humanity, religion or morality. This is mentioned earlier in a different sense by Demian himself when he was walking with Sinclair one afternoon. They just had a Bible reading of Cain and Abel’s story in Latin school, to which Demian alludes to when he strikes the conversation with Sinclair. Providing Sinclair with his own unique interpretation of Cain’s story and the meaning of his mark; Demian makes a reference to not only religion, but also philosophy (specifically that of Carl Jung’s theory “Nietzsche”, which is where Hesse received great influence from), explaining that people are very different and these differences can lead to fear from others. This innovative idea attracts Sinclair and this becomes the foundation of his perception of the world and its two realms. As a result of Demian’s great influence, Sinclair goes through a series of stages in his life as he was then separated from his friend and sent to boarding school. During those years, Sinclair made false relationships, became a drunkard and a total mess with no ambition to persue. Therefore, in this short period Sinclair showed an example of  Hesse’s lesson: everyone must learn to look within themselves in order to figure out what they stand for. In conclusion, no one else’s opinion or belief matters other than your own, because you are living in your own reality and you are the main character of your own life.                                                                                        The first question made by Sinclair instigated a good reason to pause for self-reflection to which makes the reader wonder, “All I wanted to do was try to live the life that was inside me, trying to get out. Why was that so hard?” Hesse’s “Demian” is the story of an exploration of endeavors that everyone must face as they transition from the safety of the realm of light and illusions to the more corrupt side of adulthood; a dark reality. Sinclair stated that as a child, he could already make a distinction between the two; however, while still in the confinement of his home, he grew interest in the outside world and to gain independence. (1) “The realms of day and night…My parent’s house made up one realm. This realm was familiar to me in almost every way; mother and father, love and strictness, model behavior, and school…the other realm…was…a loud mixture of horrendous, intriguing, frightful, mysterious things including…tales of robberies, murders, and suicides.” (1)Through-out the process called growing up, children and teenagers are given advice from adults on how to live their life. Hesse is stressing the fact that our purpose in life lies inside us is just us wanting to break free and do as we wish. Sinclair’s question “Why was that so hard?” summarizes the overall mood of the youth in today’s society. Constantly, we are always trying to figure out our purpose in life and what we want to do with ourselves in the future as we are starting to mature. It is a summary of the mindset of a young person trying to figure theirselves out and finding their sense of resolvement whilst abiding to the advice that discharge from the people of the corrupt, evil world “with which he no longer wanted to have anything to do.”                                                                          In the end, it all comes down to the fact that only we are the ones to judge ourselves based on our own interpretations. In spite of the fact that many people will try to understand one another, it doesn’t avoid the hostility and the indifference bewteen people who are different. At some point, many people will come into a mutual assimilation but recalling Pistorius’ words at the beginning of this essay, we are the only ones who know ourselves fully. The way Hesse executed this novel from start to finish was to me the most intriguing part of the whole, as the sequence of the train of thought made it very profound and almost autobiographical. It was interesting how he did somewhat of a roundabout by the end of his novel and didn’t quite fully resolve Sinclair’s story, as way to show the reader that in real life you don’t know where you’re going next and it gives immortality to the characters themselves, as well. The timelessness here is what makes this novel so fitting for anyone of any era to read, which is also a common characteristic of Modernist literature. I believe that this was a good read and I highly recommend it, and thus concludes my analytical essay, “Demian” is not a novel worthy to be turned a blind eye to.