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Siddhartha

Many novels and other pieces of literature, contain a main character that has difficulty finding happiness and solutions to their problems.In Siddhartha, the main character Siddhartha, is born into his fathers social class but finds himself not pleased with his religion nor happiness, so he goes on a journey hoping to find comfort within himself.Like Siddhartha the main character in the Razors Edge, Larry Darnell questions his religion, and everyday decisions.

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Both Larry Darnell and Siddhartha break off from their original society to go on expeditions in hope to find answers to their unanswered concerns, and to find enlightenment. Both characters willingly give up things in order to reach their goal.

Siddhartha leaves his father and his father’s power in their community.  Siddhartha’s father, a Brahmin leader, has much power which makes him able to provide for Siddhartha well.  Siddhartha does not like the ways his father is living and is dissatisfied with his father’s religious beliefs because he sees that his father and his followers are not reaching enlightenment so he feels that it would not make sense to follow a method that obviously is not working.  He and his best friend, Govinda, decide to commence on a journey to find a way of life that is satisfying to them. Making the decision to leave his family and home must have been a very hard choice to make for such a young man to make.

Later on in the book, Siddhartha leaves even more of his loved ones behind in his exploration for enlightenment.  He departs from his friend Govinda when Govinda feels that he is content with the samanas and their teachings and Siddhartha feels that he must experience life for his own in order to find inner happiness.  Govinda is Siddhartha’s best friend and was with him through the toughest of times. Siddhartha loves Govinda, but knows that it was in the best interest of both of them to part ways. Additionally, Siddhartha feels the need to let his only child, whom he loves dearly, to go off on his own and experience life’s qualities for himself just like how Siddhartha did during his own childhood.

Although he knows it is the right thing to do, Siddhartha feels a natural love towards his newly discovered son and is dreadfully heartbroken by his absence.  Likewise, Larry Darrell willingly gives up a lot of things for his hunt towards world knowledge and inner happiness. Larry gives up Isabel, the woman he’s known and loved since he was a child with no parents, because she wanted a life of luxury and wealth.  Larry did not want that because he wanted to live a modest life where he lives off of the rush that comes with learning and living freely and not trapped in a life full of materialism and capital gain.  He believes that money is not necessary and even goes to the extent of declining a lavish job offer from his best friend’s father.

He would have been one of Mr. Maturin’s stock brokers and he would have been practically guaranteed huge sums of money and would have been able to support Isabel to the standard of living that she is used to.  Also, Larry gives up his friend Yosti to focus on his goal.  He and Yosti become great friends when they room together at the mines and go looking for farm work together.  Larry feels that it is his time to move on and abandons Yosti at a farm.  Though in the end it paid off, both characters willingly gave up things in order to reach enlightenment. Both characters gain knowledge while on their quest.  Siddhartha learns a lot from his young son. His son taught him about the true meaning of love. Siddhartha started out on his journey with the thought that you do not need to love everything because some things just are not lovable.

His son taught him that you must love everything and yourself to respect the world and everything inside of it.  Siddhartha feels a natural love toward his son and was utterly heartbroken when the time came when he had to let his son go. His son is not the only person that affected him, for the river also had quite an impact on Siddhartha.  The river showed him that time does not really exist and that everything always comes back around. Siddhartha is relieved by this idea because the stresses that time brings are now suddenly lifted off from him.  The idea that everything comes back around is paralleled to Siddhartha’s life because he left his father to go and explore life on his own and now his own son does the same.

Siddhartha also learns the difference between knowledge and wisdom and the difference between seeking and finding.  He comes to the conclusion at the end of the novel that “Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom” (Hesse 142) and that “Seeking means: to have a goal; but finding means: to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal” (Hesse 140).  Correspondingly, Larry is affected by people as well. He meets a yogi and brings him questions about god and evil. The yogi teaches him about the Hindu religion and explains to Larry that “evil is as a direct a manifestation of the divine as the good” (Maugham 114).  Larry is greatly affected by the yogi and takes the information that the yogi shared with him for the rest of his journey.

He is also influenced by reading books. He gains worldly knowledge from reading and uses it to his advantage.  He reads about all kinds of philosophies and ideas that bring him to question religion and God.  Larry also learns from experiences.  He decides to leave his friends in Chicago and live in Paris to simply clear his mind and get his thoughts straight.  He also goes to work in a coal mine, a job of which many people would despise having, just to see what it’s like to have some manual labor under his belt.  Most “people would think [he is] crazy” (Maugham 46) for doing unnecessary hard labor like Larry does, but that doesn’t seem to bother him.  He later went on a 5 year expedition starting in a monastery in Germany and ending with a Hindu yogi in India where he lived “with calmness, forbearance, compassion, selflessness, and continence” (Maugham 279).

This makes him decide to ditch Christianity and makes him very open to Hindu beliefs.  Larry also learns a lot from his time served in World War I.  He was a pilot and him and his best friend, Patsy, got into a dogfight in the air and Patsy literally took a bullet for Larry and died. This event is truly when Larry begins to question religion and God.  Overall, Larry and Siddhartha are greatly influenced by others while going through his journey and learn a lot along the way. Siddhartha and Larry have great effects on other people on their path to enlightenment.  They never seem to shy away from sharing their knowledge with those who will listen. Siddhartha influences his longtime friend Govinda by explaining to him all that he has learned on his voyage.

He tells Govinda the meaning and importance of love, seeking and wisdom. When Siddhartha goes in depth about love he describes how a person must love themselves in order to be grateful for anything else that exists in the world. Siddhartha picks up a rock acknowledging how he loves this rock: “it is a stone, because today and now it appears to me a stone. I see value and meaning in each of its fine mark ings and cavities in the yellow in the gray in the hardness and the sound of it” (Hesse 145).  This lesson has a huge impact for Govinda, and he “bow[es] low. Incontrollable tears trickl[e] down his old face” (Hesse 151).  Govinda is truly inspired by the teachings and his knowledge about the world. Govinda is just one of the people that he influenced. Siddhartha has an effect on his friend Kamala. Kamala is a very materialistic person and Siddhartha opens her eyes to the idea that material goods are not the most important things in life.

She is inspired by this thought and takes a page from his book to further her learning.  She then becomes pregnant with Siddhartha’s son and raises him under Buddhist beliefs and eventually dies in an attempt to travel to meet Buddha himself.  In general, Siddhartha has a positive effect on people that he has encountered with along his journey. Equally, Larry has positive effects on several people along his journey. Larry affects Isabel when she sabotages her own plan to make Larry think that she was pregnant. She thinks of him as being too innocent and sweet to do anything menacing to him. He also makes her question her marriage with Gray because she still loves Larry.  Furthermore, Larry makes a strong attempt to change Sophie.  After her husband and child’s sudden death, Sophie turns to drugs and alcohol to ease her pain.

Larry puts Sophie’s problems on his back and helps rehabilitate her and even asked for her hand in marriage.  She accepts his proposal but then relapses and goes back to her bad habits. Although he ultimately failed, Larry still put in a great effort in helping Sophie.  Larry also affects Suzanne by taking her off of the streets and taking care of her when she needed it the most.  Larry finds her and feels that he is obligated to help her so he briefly gives her and her young daughter a home to live in, money and accompanies them through all of this to ensure that they are all right. Larry gives Suzanne hope and the two of them become very close, close enough that Larry tells her about his scarring experiences in World War I.

Towards the end of their relationship they have sex and then the next morning Larry decides that Suzanne is ready to get back on her feet and leaves her with money and good people to surround herself with. He leaves her with a pleasing life which she greatly appreciates. As a whole, Larry and Siddhartha are influential in many people’s lives and truly become teachers. People reach enlightenment in different ways.  Siddhartha reaches enlightenment by experiencing all aspects of life and being very open minded so he is not a seeker and is a finder.  Larry Darrell reaches enlightenment by reading, loafing, helping others, questioning religion, and keeping his personal space.  Both characters learn, teach, and sacrifice during their journey towards happiness and both characters evidently reach their goal in the end.

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