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Character Analysis

Happy Hedonist

Kamala represents Siddhartha’s foray into the world of lust and greed—but don’t go calling her Cruella de Vil just yet. She's not making puppy-skin coats... she's just having a ton of really excellent sex, living with all five of her senses, and helping Siddhartha on his path to enlightenment. To each his/her own, right?

Siddhartha willingly accepts Kamala as a teacher (remember, he usually doesn’t like teachers—but she's hotter than most) and dives into the project of educating himself about sex with the vigor of his usual spiritual endeavors:

"To tell you this and to thank you for being so beautiful. And if it doesn't displease you, Kamala, I would like to ask you to be my friend and teacher, for I know nothing yet of that art which you have mastered in the highest degree." (5.29)

Although Siddhartha ultimately becomes disillusioned with the emptiness of his life in the material world, he later cites Kamala as one of his primary teachers on his path to enlightenment. By helping Siddhartha to see the best of what the material world has to offer, Kamala helps Siddhartha realize that the material world isn’t enough to satisfy him... although it's super-fun. He also realizes that he's not wired to love in the same way other people are:

"You are the best lover," she said thoughtfully, "I ever saw. You're stronger than others, more supple, more willing. You've learned my art well, Siddhartha. At some time, when I'll be older, I'd want to bear your child. And yet, my dear, you've remained a Samana, and yet you do not love me, you love nobody. Isn't it so?"

"It might very well be so," Siddhartha said tiredly. "I am like you. You also do not love—how else could you practice love as a craft? Perhaps, people of our kind can't love. The childlike people can; that's their secret." (6.50)

Their child proves to be the final, most difficult, but necessary test of Siddhartha’s spirituality. Siddhartha’s spirituality similarly benefited Kamala, who by the end of the novel seems to have found relative peace, if not enlightenment. Although the bond between Siddhartha and Kamala isn't transcendent love, it is mutually beneficial. (And mutually smokin' hot.)

Kamala Timeline