War in Hesse's Demian

In Demian, Herman Hesse discusses the meaning behind an apparently futile war under the guise of one boy's search for personal identity. While Hesse spends much of the novel illustrating Emil Sinclair's search for meaning, the tying in of the Great War at the end of the novel is neither surprising nor unnecessary. In fact, in introducing World War I, Hesse puts Sinclair's quest in perspective and shows the reader that Sinclair's journey may seem unique, but an entire nation went through a similar journey during wartime.

Throughout the novel, the reader is led to believe that Sinclair and Demian are unique, as they carry a special mark of "people with courage and character" (24) who can project its will on others. Demian acts as a mentor for Sinclair, teaching him strategies and aphorisms to help him understand his dreams and find his own identity. The special group to which they belong exalts Nietzsche's theories on good and evil and on the Ãbermensch, and its members seem to live on the fringes of society, having little interaction with the outside world.

Although Sinclair's journey is interesting, it may appear too idealistic and impractical to the average reader of the novel. However, Hesse...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 1105 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 8539 literature essays, 2314 sample college application essays, 372 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in