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by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha Chapter 5 Summary

  • Siddhartha continues to appreciate his surroundings and decides to always obey his inner voice and to seek experience.
  • He comes to a river and befriends the ferryman.
  • He crashes for the night at the ferryman’s bachelor pad and dreams about Govinda.
  • Let’s check out this dream.
  • Govinda, wearing a yellow robe, approaches Siddhartha and hugs him.
  • Two seconds later, Govinda transforms into a woman.
  • Siddhartha nurses from the woman’s beautiful breast and experiences the world. The woman has some seriously intense milk.
  • The next morning, a ferryman takes Siddhartha across the river.
  • The ferryman tells Siddhartha about learning from the river, which is the Most Beautiful River Ever.
  • Siddhartha expresses regret that he cannot pay the ferryman.
  • The ferryman tells him that he can chalk it up as pro bono work. But more importantly, the ferryman has faith that Siddhartha will someday return.
  • Siddhartha continues walking until he reaches a village. Everyone stays away from the weird ascetic (him).
  • Siddhartha comes to a stream where he meets a young woman washing clothes.
  • They flirt, and then she invites him to have sex with her by stepping on his foot. We’re not sure how this works, to be honest, but Siddhartha bends down and kisses her nipple. (He’s still thinking about his dream.)
  • Although he wants to sleep with her, he’s never touched a woman before and gets cold feet. His inner voice says "no," so he leaves.
  • Siddhartha arrives at the outskirts of a city in a beautifully fenced grove. He sees a woman ride by on a sedan chair with a whole entourage of servants.
  • She’s gorgeous.
  • He makes eye contact with her. She smiles and nods. Chemistry? Yes, definitely.
  • She and her servants go inside the grove.
  • Siddhartha wants to follow her, but then realizes that he still looks like a Samana, i.e., a dirty beggar.
  • He learns that the woman’s name is Kamala and that she is a famous courtesan. He now has a goal. We don’t know what this goal is yet, but Siddhartha has it.
  • He bathes, shaves, oils his hair, and arranges an appointment with her.
  • Siddhartha asks Kamala to be his friend and teacher (in the art of Sexual Healing). Ah. Could this be his goal?
  • Kamala finds it vaguely ridiculous that an ascetic from the forest wearing a loincloth has come to her for a sexual education.
  • Kamala tells Siddhartha to get a job, lots of money, nice clothes, some perfume, and some nice presents for her. Then he can try talking to her again.
  • Siddhartha asks Kamala for some advice on where to get clothes, shoes, and money.
  • He gives her an overview of his resume: the ability to think, starve, and compose poetry.
  • Siddhartha composes a poem for Kamala on the spot. She loves it, so she offers him one kiss. One super-hot kiss.
  • Siddhartha is stunned and wants more.
  • We learn that knowing how to read and write is rare in ancient India.
  • Another visitor arrives; Siddhartha is quickly ushered out and offered a long, white robe.
  • Although he is hungry, Siddhartha feels it isn’t right to beg for food now that he is no longer a Samana.
  • The next day, he goes to see Kamala. She has set up a job interview for him with a wealthy merchant.
  • Siddhartha tells Kamala that he is determined to have her, and that the Samanas taught him how to single-mindedly focus on a goal.

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