Skip over navigation

Demian

Hermann Hesse

Chapter 7

Chapter 6

Chapter 8

Summary

Sinclair recounts an episode in which he visits the house in which Demian used to live. The current owner can offer him no help in finding the Demian family, but does show him an old photo album containing a picture of Demian's mother. Sinclair recognizes her as the woman he has been drawing, the woman who has captured his imagination and who has been the subject of his dreams and desires. This photograph leads Sinclair on a failed journey to find Demian's mother before he begins his university study.

One evening, while walking around town, Sinclair overhears a familiar voice. He recognizes it at once as Demian's. Sinclair follows Demian and his companion until Demian drops his companion at home. Sinclair and Demian are then reunited. They walk and talk, sharing the ideas that bond them, speaking of "the herd instinct" that degrades humanity. Demian shows Sinclair to his current house and invites him to come to visit whenever he wants. Sinclair returns home, filled with emotion and excitement&mdahs;he will finally have the opportunity to meet Demian's mother.

The next day, Sinclair makes his way to Demian's house. As the maid shows Sinclair in, he recounts many of the significant events that have marked his life and his relationship with Demian. He meets Demian's mother, who recognizes him at once. They speak of the emotion Sinclair is now feeling and of the journey that has finally brought him to her—the picture Sinclair had mailed to Max, Sinclair's bar-hopping school days, and his interactions with Pistorius. Demian's mother invites Sinclair to be one of her very dearest friends and to call her 'Frau Eva.' Sinclair then goes out to a garden behind the house to see Max. Sinclair sings Eva's praises to Max. Pausing to think for a moment, Demian congratulates Sinclair, saying that he is the first person to whom Demian's mother has told her name during their first encounter.

The older Sinclair views this initial visit to the Demian household as a watershed event. Afterwards, he says, he freely went to and from the house "like a son or brother—but also someone in love."

Sinclair begins to center his life around the Demian household and around those who, like himself, "wear the sign in their faces." Many people pass through his circle, people of different interests and beliefs. Sinclair and Demian do not take seriously the religious beliefs of their acquaintances. Rather, they concern themselves with each individual's self-realization. Often, they discuss a premonition that the world cannot continue for much longer as it is, that society's ideals will be revealed as bankrupt because they will ultimately lead to war.

Amidst this environment of rogue thought, Sinclair's relationship with Eva grows stronger. She seems to understand his every thought and desire; she confronts Sinclair about his love for her and tells him that he must allow it to fully manifest itself in order to win her over. Sinclair spends two weeks at home over Christmas, allowing him time to think more about Frau Eva. Still, when he returns to her, he is not fully ready to make his move. A scene follows in which Sinclair finds Demian in the house passed out. He then wanders out into a storm and sees, in the clouds, the sparrow hawk that has played a central role in his dreams. He returns to Demian's house to find that he to has experienced an ominous sign in the form of a dream, though Demian refuses to reveal to him all of the details.

Analysis

Nietzsche's influence is evident in this chapter. Sinclair and Demian's discussion of "the herd instinct" that saddles most men may as well have been lifted straight out of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil (1886). There, Nietzsche advances the view that only a very few men have the courage to express their will. The rest, the herd, simply follow rules that have been set forth for them by others or by religion. A special few transcend these rules to be able to express their will. Demian and Sinclair, in calling the rest the herd, mark themselves as among those few supermen (Übermenschen).

When Sinclair meets Frau Eva, she comments that she recognized him immediately, implying that he bears a certain sign, the sign borne by all people of their type. This sign explains why the pictures Sinclair has been drawing in previous chapters look like Demian, Frau Eva, and Sinclair himself. Earlier in the chapter, Demian notices this sign as well. He tells Demian that it is their sign, the thing they used to call "the mark of Cain." This mark or sign is a touch of mysticism running throughout the novel. It is never quite explained what it is or how the characters recognize it. This is not uncommon for Hesse, who often employs mystical elements in his writing.

During their initial conversation, Sinclair addresses Frau Eva as "dear mother." This emphasizes one aspect of their relationship—she watches over and protects him. Yet, it also highlights their highly unusual and multi-faceted relationship. After all, Sinclair is in love with Eva. This confluence of romantic and maternal love in their relationship points toward a further disregard for societal norms and taboos.

The storm at the end of the chapter offers multiple layers of symbolism. First, we are presented with the symbols that the characters themselves discuss. The sparrow hawk that Sinclair sees forebodes a freedom, but yet tumult; its coinciding with Demian's dream indicates to both of them that something big is about to happen. Second, this whole scene is laden with symbolism that the characters do not recognize. The scene takes place in the context of a storm. During the storm, Demian is passed out and Sinclair sees the sparrow hawk in the clouds. Hesse uses the storm to present these happenings to the reader as ever more chaotic. When the "gleam of sunshine burst through," Sinclair returns to find Demian awake. The end of the storm brings with it a calmer, more serene moment for the two boys, in which they can reflect and discuss.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us