by: Hermann Hesse

Important Quotations Explained

"A stone had been dropped into the well, the well was my youthful soul. And for a very long time this matter of Cain, the fratricide, and the 'mark' formed the point of departure for all my attempts at comprehension, my doubts and my criticism."

In this quote, Sinclair ruminates about the effect of the initial conversation he had with Demian concerning the story of Cain. Demian suggested that the mark of Cain should be seen as something that distinguishes someone, rather than as a negative sign of Cain's malice. This interpretation is the first challenge ever presented to Sinclair's traditional Christian world- view. Just as a stone dropped in a well would have a rippling effect, disrupting all the water in the well, so too does this heretical interpretation have wide- ranging effects on Sinclair's soul. The imagery of the well, then, foreshadows Demian's further intellectual progress. This first departure from traditional Christianity serves a symbolic role for Demian later on; the story of Cain becomes a source of inspiration for him to dig deeper into what he is learning and to think more creative and original thoughts.