Lessons in Leadership in Demian
In Demian, Hesse uses a comparison to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel to convey his ideas about those who are different. The idea arises again and again, causing the reader to look at it from a very unique perspective. Through this comparison, the reader begins to see the mark of Cain as a positive symbol -- as the mark of those who would lead the world into the future of mankind, without fear.
When Emil Sinclair first meets Max Demian, he sees that Demian is not like anyone he has ever known. Unconsciously, he views Demian as having a mark -- something that sets him apart from the others. Sinclair isn't sure if it is the adult-like manner in which Demian carries himself, or the vast store of wisdom and truth behind his eyes. Whatever this difference was, it was something that could not be denied. Demian -- almost immediately, upon meeting up with Sinclair -- tells the story of Cain and Abel with an entirely new perspective. This greatly upsets Sinclair's small world, in which the pious are always in the right, and the "sinners" are in the wrong. Sinclair finds himself both repulsed by and obsessed with this story.
In Demian's version of the story of Cain and Abel, Cain was actually the better man of the two. Abel was described as being weaker, and therefore less necessary than Cain to mankind. Demian didn't doubt that this part of the story was true, but he put much less stock in the notion that Cain was then marked by God. Rather, in Demian's version, Cain was labeled by the society he was in. They were afraid of the "faintly sinister look" that ...
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...is apparent, in everyday life, that people such as these exist.
Throughout Demian, Hesse proves that those who bear the mark of Cain in Demian's Biblical interpretation are superior in nearly every way. They are innovative, brilliant, and strong enough to follow their own paths. Hesse provides a spark of something else, however, something that not every reader may pick up on. This spark is the inspiration to look into one's own soul, and to examine oneself in all honesty. The questions to be answered are these: "Who am I? Do I bear the mark of Cain?" Each answer will be different, but the point is not to be the same as others. The point is to see that one is different from all others, and to find the strength to walk forward, into the light of our future... As a leader, and not as a follower.