Essay on Steppenwolf's Decision to Live

Essay on Steppenwolf's Decision to Live

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Steppenwolf's Decision to Live

  In the novel, Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, the main character, the Steppenwolf, considers committing suicide. He tries to justify taking his life with religious and philosophical rationales, but in the argument he finds that his life is worth living and suicide not a logical option. Sadly though, the novel provides little evidence beyond the Steppenwolf's own feelings as to why he cannot commit suicide. It is the intent of this paper, with some religious and philosophical references, to shed light on the reasoning behind the Steppenwolf's decision to live. The issue of suicide has been addressed throughout history by many critics. Many try to justify taking one's own life, but for different reasons. The disparity in justifications forces the individual to decipher applicable reasoning and determine if suicide is justifiable. The Steppenwolf is one of these individuals.


The Steppenwolf is controlled by two souls-one of a wolf and one of a man. For men or human beings the soul is the center of life. The soul is immortal and believed to continue into the afterlife. Religion and philosophy both view the soul as the center of the man and the aim of their respective ideas. The Steppenwolf is controlled by two instincts directly correlated to the souls of the wolf and the man. One to act like a secluded wolf and another to interact with people like a man.


Because of the two souls, the issue of a suicide therefore, must be viewed for both wolf and man. As to suicide for the wolf, there is no religion for beasts and consequently no religious justification of suicide. Secondly, beasts have no philosophy and no means of knowing their existence. Beasts have no concept of the life t...

... middle of paper ...

...ving himself from society only made him realize that the need for human contact outweighs the need to escape from the torments of life. In the end, the Steppenwolf chooses life because in his attempt to justify killing himself, he realizes suicide is not the exit Steppenwolves choose.


Works Cited and Consulted

Farberow, Norman L., ed. Suicide in Different Cultures. Baltimore: University Park Press, 1975.

Hesse, Herman. The Steppenwolf. New York: Henry Hold and Company, Inc., 1963.

Lehrer, Keith, ed. Analysis and Metaphysics. Dordrecht, Holland: D. Reidel Pub. Company, 1975.

Quincey, Thomas De. De Quincey's Writings. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1877.

Shneidman, Edwin. The Definition of Suicide. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1985.

Wallace, Samuel E., ed. Suicide and Euthanasia. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1981.

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