Free Siddhartha Essays: Significance of the River

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The Significance of the River in Siddhartha

In the book Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse the significance of the river is displayed throughout the experiences that Siddhartha has next to the river and the things that by listening to the sound he comes to understand. Siddhartha is learning something from the moment he rides the ferry to the time when Govinda lays on the ground with tears flowing uncontrollably.

Siddhartha admits to having no money to pay for the voyage, but the Ferryman says that friendship is payment enough, and takes him into town. After leaving town, Siddhartha returns to the river where had met the Ferryman earlier. Intrigued by the river's beauty and silent wisdom, Siddhartha decides to stay by the river. Siddhartha soon meets the Ferryman Vasuveda, the same man who took him across the river earlier. Siddhartha offers to be Vasuveda's apprentice, an offer that the Ferryman graciously accepts. The two grow together as Siddhartha begins to learn the river's wisdom, and soon Siddhartha begins to emulate Vasuveda's demeanor, expressing a contented peace in the routine of daily life. Years pass. One day, the two Ferrymen hear that the Buddha is dying. Kamala, on hearing the news as well, travels with her son to be near Goatama. As she passes near the river, she is bitten by a snake and dies, but not before Vasuveda takes her to Siddhartha.

After Kamala dies, Siddhartha keeps his son with him by the river. The boy, though, refuses to accept Siddhartha as his father and consequently does nothing he is told. Many months pass, but the boy remains intransigent. Eventually the boy runs away. Vasuveda tells Siddhartha to let him go, but Siddhartha follows him. Upon reaching the town, Siddhartha recalls his own experiences there and admits to himself what he knew all along, that he could not help the boy. Siddhartha feels a great sorrow at this loss, and the happiness he had known as a Ferryman leaves him. Vasuveda soon arrives and leads the despondent Siddhartha to back to the river.

The pain of losing his son was long lasting for Siddhartha. It enabled him, however, to identify with ordinary people more than ever before. Though Siddhartha was beginning to understand what wisdom really is, the thought of son did not leave him. One day he sets off in search of his son, but stops as he heard the river laughing at him.

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