Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The structure of “Within and Without” plays the external events and internal anxieties of Friedrich’s life against each other to reveal their interconnectedness. The story moves from an external description of Friedrich’s character through Friedrich’s experience of the events that lead to the discovery of his internal turmoil. His inner disharmony shapes his world, giving external objects and events their power to disturb him. The outer world allows him to see within himself.

The relationship between these two men with very different attitudes about existence is also a vehicle for the overcoming of the false polarities in Friedrich’s mind. As with many other friendships in Hesse’s works—Siddhartha’s with Govinda, Narcissus’s with Goldmund, or Demian’s with Emil Sinclair—these two opposed friends represent the rational and sensual poles of human nature. Their interaction allows their underlying union to emerge through the process of their reunion.

The idol plays a striking symbolic role in this piece. Its two opposed heads remind Friedrich of the Roman god Janus, the god of gates and new beginnings. The crude little figure does indeed act as a door to Friedrich’s soul and an opportunity for him to overcome his internal conflicts and enter a new life of inner harmony. Even the outer glaze on the clay god is able to reveal his inner conflict and point the way toward its resolution. He becomes obsessed with the memory of...

(The entire section is 483 words.)