If you could only teach one aspect of Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, because you were short on time, what would you focus on?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Obviously there could be many answers to this question, but perhaps the most practical and most relevant aspect of Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, is the idea of seeking and finding, of a spiritual journey. Most students who are mature enough to read this novel will probably also understand and relate to the concept of searching for truth, or at least a truth.

One option which might be productive in a short time is to compare the journeys of Siddhartha and Govinda. While both are on a journey for truth, Govinda is much more restrictive in his search, limiting himself to the religious and spiritual spheres he knows and thereby limiting his ability to discover a complete truth.

Siddhartha's journey, on the other hand, is more meandering, as his search for spiritual truth and enlightenment leads him down some unexpected (and rather worldly) paths. 

This contrast between these two men's approaches to their spiritual seeking, their journey for truth, is expressed in a speech Siddhartha makes to Govinda at the river bank:

“When someone is seeking,” said Siddhartha, “It happens quite easily that he only sees the thing that he is seeking; that he is unable to find anything, unable to absorb anything, because he is only thinking of the thing he is seeking, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal. You, O worthy one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, for in striving towards your goal, you do not see many things that are under your nose.” 

Of course these two characters offer only two ways to seek truth, but they offer you a chance to develop the ideas of seeking, searching, journeying. and truth as much as your time allows. Literature often references a rather metaphorical seeking for truth or some other revelatory element; Siddhartha's and Govinda's journeys, though spiritual, are also literal. It seems to me this kind of a study, even a brief one, would be a helpful reference point for many subsequent literature discussions, as well. 

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