Independent Reading Journal prompts
- Describe when & where the story is taking place, information about the narrator, what you think the book is trying to achieve, what theme(s ) or life issue(s) the book focuses on.
Indian philosophy Siddhartha is told by an omniscient third person narrator with frequent direct and indirect quotations of the words and thoughts of various characters, especially Siddhartha. The narrator, almost invariably, looks at things from Siddhartha's perspective A mystical and lyrical book, Siddhartha is a beautiful story of a truly personal quest towards the self-fulfillment we all must strive to attain
Siddhartha's life takes him on a journey toward enlightenment. Afire with youthful idealism, the Brahmin joins a group of ascetics, fasting and living without possessions. Meeting Gotama the Buddha, he comes to feel this is not the right path, though he also declines joining the Buddha's followers. He reenters the world, hoping to learn of his own nature, but instead slips gradually into hedonism and materialism. Surfeited and disgusted, he flees from his possessions to become a ferryman's apprentice, learning what lessons he can from the river itself. Herman Hesse's 1922 Bildungsroman parallels the life of Buddha and seems to argue that lessons of this sort cannot be taught but come from one's own struggle to find truth. But several years of prosperous worldly existence dilutes his intellectual acuity, numbs his senses, breeds tremendous ennui, and leads to a spiraling recrudescence of petty and diluting human emotions. His flight from that comfortable living, his meeting with his son (begottten of Kamala) who he is unable to relate to
2. Describe an important character: their appearance, actions, ideas, thoughts, and interactions with other characters. The primary theme of Siddhartha is the individual's difficult and lonely search for self-fulfillment. Both the means used by the hero in his quest and the nature of his fulfillment are of prime importance and reflect recurring themes that thread their way through all of Hesse's work. A second important symbol in Siddhartha is that of the smile. The characters in the story who attain a final state of complete serenity are each characterized by a beautiful smile reflecting a peaceful and harmonious state of being. Siddhartha's time with the Buddha is very important since he (Siddhartha) realizes that True Knowledge cannot be communicated, and that it has to be experienced, that it cannot be taught by a teacher or written down in a book; it has to be a lone spiritual journey undertaken by the individual soul itself. Siddhartha spurns the Buddha's spirited following and embarks very determinedly to immerse himself in worldly experience
3. Describe the setting, time period and geographical region.The novel takes place inancient Indiaaround the time of the Buddha (6th century BC). It starts asSiddhartha, a Brahmin's son, leaves his home to join the ascetics with his companion Govinda. The two set out in the search of enlightenment. Siddhartha goes through a series of changes and realizations as he attempts to achieve this goal.It begins with Siddhartha's royal birth in India in the Sixth Century BCE into a Brahmin's life of privilege and wealth, continues through Siddhartha's traditional discovery of poverty, death, disease and pain as he wanders outside the royal estates, and his consequent desire to conquer or somehow come to terms with what he sees, things he had been sheltered from since birth. Thus we have the fundamental tenant of Buddhism: Life is suffering. The scene where the young Siddhartha confronts his father and stands up all night to show his resolve is one of the greatest "coming of age" scenes ever written.
4. Analyze a conflict, life experience or turning point that has a major effect on them. Siddhartha's life takes him on a journey toward enlightenmenthow can the protagonist attain a state of happiness and serenity by means of a long and arduous path? lessons of this sort cannot be taught but come from one's own struggle to find truth. Siddhartha insists upon the right to choose his own path to fulfillment. Hesse's protagonist, however, seeks his own personal path to fulfillment, not someone else's. It is one of trial and error and he is only subconsciously aware of its nature
fasting and living without possessions. Meeting Gotama the Buddha, he comes to feel this is not the right path, though he also declines joining the Buddha's followers. He reenters the world, hoping to learn of his own nature, but instead slips gradually into hedonism and materialism. Surfeited and disgusted, he flees from his possessions to become a ferryman's apprentice, learning what lessons he can from the river
5. Describe the similarities in themes or content between the book you read and another you’ve read recently.How do the approaches differ? The story is the classic journey, both outward into the world and inward into the soul. Siddharta is reared in wealth and priviledge and yet like many insightful persons, recognizes that this is a fragile and illusory reality and social class construct. He breaks with his father, an act that all of us must underdo to became truely individuated adults. Gifted with male beauty, intelligence, and warm charism, Siddharta makes his way into the world. He joins wandering ascetics and masters hunger and cold. He becomes a hedonist and lover to a beautiful woman while becoming a successful merchant. These were not wasted years. In fact, Siddharta learned deep lessons in his soul through his love-making. He learns the mystery of becoming one with another body during passion. But he also learns that worldly sexual love fades and attachements are hard to break. He becomes a ferryman, gaining wisdom from the tides and river banks.
6. The ending:how does the author finish the book?What effect does the ending have on the reader (you)?How does the ending compare to another book you’ve read? Although he is confused, he still managed to find peace from the river. He decided to learn and become "one" with the river. He became a ferryman who guides others across the river and gives advice to others from the lessons he learned from the river. The story ends with Siddhartha finding the peace that passeth all understanding, learned from a simple ferry boatman as he listens to the timeless voice of the river as it flows, expressing all that is or has been or will be fasting and living without possessions. Meeting Gotama the Buddha, he comes to feel this is not the right path, though he also declines joining the Buddha's followers. He reenters the world, hoping to learn of his own nature, but instead slips gradually into hedonism and materialism. Surfeited and disgusted, he flees from his possessions to become a ferryman's apprentice, learning what lessons he can from the river the river is an age-old symbol of eternity and spiritual communion. A mystical and lyrical book, Siddhartha is a beautiful story of a truly personal quest towards the self-fulfillment we all must strive to attain
7. Comment on what you’ve learned from reading this book.
Herman Hesse's Siddhartha is one such soul who was born with an "unquenchable thirst" - in his own words - to know and realize the meaning of life. Even his early childhood years are spent with an acute suspicion and later - a deep belief that there is more to life than just what one sees, eternal Truth beyond the "Maya" or illusory world of sensory and sensual experience, or even differently put, that realization of the True Self is the ultimate goal of a human being.
Although Siddhartha listens with great respect to the words of Buddha and does not reject Buddhism as being right for others, he, himself, does not become Buddha's disciple, but decides to pursue his goal through his own effort, not by following a teacher The most important aspect of Siddhartha's growing awareness, however, is an unselfish and undirected love. he character of Siddhartha himself. Hesse has created a seeker who is a real life hero: kind, brave, strong of will and decisive, intelligent, modest, confident, honest, hardworking, unprejudiced, self-questioning and sometimes self-doubting, somebody we can identify with and admire.