Emil Sinclair, the protagonist and author-narrator, who looks back on his youth. At the beginning of the story, he is about ten years old; he is about eighteen at its close. He is the son of well-to-do parents. From a sheltered and bright childhood world, Sinclair is first plunged into a world that he had hitherto regarded as separate from his, the world of the lower classes, surrounded by darkness and mystery. He had bragged about having stolen apples to impress an older fellow student, Franz Kromer; Kromer blackmails and otherwise harasses him. When Sinclair meets Max Demian, another older student, his life changes once again, as Demian protects him and forces Kromer to leave Sinclair alone. Sinclair’s growing pains, trials, and tribulations are accompanied by Demian’s role as a mentor and friend. They recognize each other by the “mark of Cain” on their foreheads, which, though invisible, is the sign of a nonconformist, of one who believes in the human race as one that is yet to come. Demian gradually leads Sinclair to this visionary insight, which draws a line between himself and the “masses” who are driven by a herdlike instinct. Sinclair’s path toward acceptance of what fate has in store for him is one of self-exploration, including the freedom to become what he is. He later encounters Demian again and, for the first time, meets Eva, Demian’s mother. When Sinclair sees Demian for the last time, Demian has been mortally wounded in battle. After Demian’s death, Sinclair’s introspection reveals that his and Demian’s images have merged into one.
Max Demian, an older student and Sinclair’s friend and...
(The entire section is 693 words.)
Sinclair, the narrator-hero of Demian, represents a largely autobiographical figure. Both the setting and the school experiences reflect Hesse’s youth in Calw, his native town, located near Germany’s Black Forest. The character of Pistorius is based upon the Swiss psychologist Dr. J.B. Lang, who treated Hesse and introduced him to Carl Gustav Jung’s psychoanalytic theories.
Sinclair struggles to achieve his own individual identity, described metaphorically as a path or way to meaning in life. He feels compelled to break out of his conventional background and establish his independence, even though he realizes that the way or path never ends, that stasis can never be achieved. For his understanding of...
(The entire section is 399 words.)