Topics for Further Study

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  • Research the counterculture of the 1960s in the United States and make a class presentation that explains why Steppenwolf had such a strong appeal for young Americans during that decade.
  • Read Hesse's novel, Siddhartha. Write an essay in which you discuss how Siddhartha's inner journey compares to that of Harry Haller. Are their spiritual quests similar? Do they reach the same kind of enlightenment? How do their methods differ? In what way is Vasudeva's instruction to Siddhartha to listen to the river similar to Mozart's instruction to Haller at the end of the novel that he must first learn to listen?
  • Haller has a deep suspicion of technology and fears that it will debase the culture and adversely affect the human spirit. Why does he feel this? What reasons does he give? To what extent have his fears been realized? What are some of the dangers associated with technology that have become manifested in the years since Steppenwolf was first published? Make a class presentation with the results of your research.
  • Harry Haller divides himself into two opposing qualities but later discovers how inadequate such a binary classification is. Write a short analysis like the "Treatise on the Steppenwolf" in which, taking yourself or someone you know well as your subject, you divide the whole personality into what you see as two main conflicting characteristics. Then show why these two characteristics are inadequate to describe a person's full nature. Is the treatise correct when it implies that every human being has a thousand different selves? What are the implications of that for the development of the personality?

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