by Herman Hesse
Siddhartha and his spiritual quest is the driving force of the novel. From the very first chapter of the book, when Siddhartha convinces his father to allow him to become a Samana, he is determined to seek enlightenment, like hard-core-stand-in-one-place-unmoving-all-night kind of determined. With the Samanas, he is admired for learning quickly and practicing the exercises with focus and energy. It is with similar direction and determination that Siddhartha pursues Kamala, and ultimately the path to enlightenment. Although Siddhartha struggles while living as a rich man, and later with his powerful love for his son, he remains persistent in his search for enlightenment.
In addition to his determination, Siddhartha is fiercely individualistic. Eager to learn the truth, and skeptical of doctrine, Siddhartha does not hesitate to question even the most well-respected doctrines. As Siddhartha begins to recognize his own self-reliance while living as a Samana, he discovers that his learning will have to be much more self-directed and experiential than the rigid structures offered by the Samanas or Gotama Buddha’s community. Vasudeva’s ability to guide Siddhartha to learn on his own rather than teaching him caters to Siddhartha’s learning-type and ultimately enables him to achieve enlightenment.