novel’s protagonist. Siddhartha sets out on a quest for enlightenment
and tests the religious philosophies he discovers. Siddhartha’s
most defining characteristic is his desire for a transcendent, spiritual
understanding of himself and the world. He devotes himself wholeheartedly
to the pursuit of this understanding, even when the path is difficult.
Outside forces do not easily sway Siddhartha, and he follows his
heart. A man dedicated to his personal quest for knowledge, Siddhartha
will abandon a course if he feels it is flawed. Siddhartha has a
son, who is also named Siddhartha.
in-depth analysis of Siddhartha.
enlightened ferryman who guides Siddhartha to a transcendent understanding
of himself and the universe. Vasudeva is spiritually and socially
flawless, and he ferries true seekers of wisdom to enlightenment. He
is closely linked to the river, and he helps Siddhartha learn how
to listen to the river’s secrets. Siddhartha achieves enlightenment
only because of his association with Vasudeva.
in-depth analysis of Vasudeva.
best friend and sometimes his follower. Like Siddhartha, Govinda
devotes his life to the quest for understanding and enlightenment.
He leaves his village with Siddhartha to join the Samanas, then
leaves the Samanas to follow Gotama. He searches for enlightenment
independently of Siddhartha but persists in looking for teachers
who can show him the way. In the end, he is able to achieve enlightenment
only because of Siddhartha’s love for him.
in-depth analysis of Govinda.
courtesan who instructs Siddhartha in the art of physical love.
In addition to being Siddhartha’s lover, Kamala helps him learn
the ways of the city and leave his ascetic life as a Samana behind.
Just before she dies from a snakebite, she reveals that Siddhartha
is the father of her son.
enlightened religious leader with many followers. Also known as
the Buddha, Gotama is said to have attained Nirvana. He teaches
the Eightfold Path to his many followers as the way to achieve true enlightenment.
Siddhartha and Govinda seek him out, but while Govinda becomes a
follower, Siddhartha ultimately rejects him. Siddhartha concludes
that while Gotama has achieved enlightenment, his teachings do not
necessarily help others find enlightenment.
older businessman who teaches Siddhartha the art of business. Kamala
refers Siddhartha to Kamaswami, and with Kamaswami’s guidance, Siddhartha successfully
insinuates himself into the society of city-dwellers. Nonetheless,
the lessons he learns from Kamaswami about the material world lead
only to unhappiness. Money and business are just a game for Siddhartha,
and they do not lead to fulfillment.
Siddhartha’s son with Kamala. Young Siddhartha poses
the final test Siddhartha must pass before enlightenment. When Kamala
dies, young Siddhartha resists starting a new life with Siddhartha. He
is a materialistic city-dweller, dislikes his father, and wants
to return to his familiar city life. Siddhartha loves his son, and
he must overcome this potentially binding love in order to achieve
enlightenment. Just as Siddhartha’s own father had to let him go
out on his own, Siddhartha must let his son discover the world for himself.
A respected Brahmin in Siddhartha’s boyhood community.
Siddhartha’s father familiarizes Siddhartha with many basic religious
teachings, but he is unable to provide Siddhartha with the answers
he needs, which leads to Siddhartha’s quest for enlightenment through other
religious traditions. When the Samanas arrive to tempt Siddhartha
away, Siddhartha’s father initially resists but eventually lets
group of traveling ascetics who believe that a life of deprivation
and wandering is the path to self-actualization. The Samanas initially
captivate Siddhartha and Govinda, but the two eventually forsake
them to follow the teachings of Gotama. When Siddhartha eventually
leaves the Samanas, he appears to have attained a superior level