As part of the Sophomore Class’s new project, we are reading two hero’s journey stories, Siddhartha and The Alchemist. Siddhartha was a great start to the project for many reasons. But why is Siddhartha so good? How did Jesse do a great job creating a Hero’s Journey story?
Siddhartha was written by Herman Hesse, a famous German novelist. He wrote many books over the years, but Siddhartha is his most well known. His life was not always good however. In 1916 he checked himself into a mental institution for many reasons. At the time his father died, his son was diagnosed with meningitis, his wife had a mental breakdown, and he had been blacklisted. No one would publish his books. He dropped out of the seminary and attempted suicide. He completed 72 sessions with Dr. Josef Bernhard Lang, a therapist working with him. This helped him to live with his conflicts and marked a turning point in his life. He then went on to writing one of his most famous books, Damein, which was about a troubled youth’s life and how he overcame challenges. In 1922 he traveled to the east, the place where he spent the majority of his time during the first World War. There he went on to publish Siddartha.
Siddhartha is the story of a young man who is the son of a brahman. A brahman is being of higher power, who are part of priesthood. They are part of the upper caste, and believe that they aren’t actually more divine or wiser than other people, just richer. Young Siddhartha is full of curiosity, but he is unsure what his meaning in life is. He leaves his home with his good friend Govinda in search of enlightenment. He goes through a series of changes in his life as he attempts to reach his goal. Along the way he becomes a merchant, a ferryman, meets the buddha, and has a son. Throughout the story Siddhartha is supported by many mentors who support him with spiritual energy.
This novel is perfect for high school students, especially freshmen and sophomores, because they are crossing this threshold, moving out their comfort zone, which is exactly what Siddhartha goes through. It is a coming of age novel that was perfect for the Hero’s Journey. Herman Hesse also does a great job on keeping the reader hooked. His style of writing is different than any other books I’ve read. He uses his poetry skills a lot, he uses unusual wording to make you feel like you’re within his world. You get so connected to Siddartha that by the end you are full of joy and sadness for him. Hesse created a universally relatable character in Siddartha.
However if you enjoy reading large novels than Siddhartha might not entirely be for you because it is a short novel and everything is summed up in 105 pages. But for a Hero’s Journey story, this is definitely one to check out.