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by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha Theme of Mortality

Death? Not a big deal, says Siddhartha. The novel portrays death as ultimately insignificant—enlightenment is much more important. We watch as Siddhartha abuses his body in an effort to attain enlightenment, and later, when he doesn’t attain it, he thinks some extremely suicidal thoughts. In contrast, Kamala dies peacefully after having achieved spiritual understanding.

Questions About Mortality

  1. How does Kamala’s fear of death impact her spirituality? Govinda’s?
  2. Why does Siddhartha consider suicide to be "the most foolish one of all thoughts"?
  3. Is Siddhartha’s near-suicide an important step on his road to enlightenment? Is it an important step on the road to enlightenment? (You could hypothetically answer "yes" to the first question and "no" to the second, arguing that while the near-suicide was essential for Siddhartha, it isn’t essential for everyone.)

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In Siddhartha, the life or death of physical life is less important than the life or death of character traits.

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