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Chapter 5

Summary Chapter 5


The note Sinclair receives from Demian at the beginning of this chapter ties together the imagery of the sparrow hawk with the theme of the two realms. In the note, the bird is portrayed as flying to Abraxas. As we learn later in the chapter, Abraxas is a god of both good and evil. Since the bird represents that aspect of Sinclair that is yearning to break free, this image recommends that in order to be truly free, Sinclair must embrace and exalt all of the tendencies of his personality—both those that people consider "good" and those they consider "evil."

Demian's dream is laden with important imagery. The "heraldic bird" glowing above his house represents an awakening of the drive to break free. It is important that the bird is on his parents' home because it is this home from which he is breaking free. That his mother morphs into a figure that looks like Demian signifies that he is replacing his mother with someone else. His parents and their world of light are being supplanted by the ideals of Demian's world, where good and evil come together and all elements of the world are celebrated.

When Sinclair admits that he wants to "live in accord with the promptings" of his "true self," he has noticeably reached a very important stage in his intellectual development. He cognitively recognizes that he wants his desire—his "true self," rather than religion or his parents' world of light, to determine how he acts. Though he has not yet fully actualized this way of living, the fact that he recognizes his attraction to this way of life is an important first step in leading that life. Intellectually, he has broken free.

Even though Pistorius represents yet another character to whom Demian looks for guidance and approval, his relationship with Sinclair differs significantly from Sinclair's relationship with Demian. Pistorius is the closest thing in the book to a foil for Demian, as he teaches Sinclair and helps him to develop. Though Sinclair takes an interest in both Pistorius and Demian prior meeting them, Demian approaches the boy Sinclair, whereas Sinclair seeks out Pistorius. By the time he is nearing the end of preparatory school, Sinclair has grown substantially more independent and willful.

The discussion about human personality toward the end of the chapter bears interesting connections to other ideas that are developed in Demian. First, it is in the same spirit as the notion of Abraxas, the all-encompassing God that Sinclair has been pondering. Here, instead of God, it is Sinclair's idea of human personality that is being enlarged. Just as he came to see that there is more to God than holiness, here he is coming to see that there is much more to the human personality than merely quirky, random characteristics. Man is powerful and he can do anything so long as he can tap into the right part of his personality. Demian has counseled Sinclair that if someone wants something enough, he will be able to accomplish it. If man's personality conforms to Pistorius' description, then this provides a mechanism whereby man could accomplish many great things—namely, he would have to reach back into the vast untapped resources of his personality.