Steppenwolf

by: Hermann Hesse

Pablo

Characters Pablo

Pablo plays perhaps the most instrumental role in the changes that occur in Steppenwolf. Clues to his importance are present from his first mention in the narrative. Hermine foreshadows Pablo’s importance in her extreme admiration for him and her claim that he can play all instruments and speak all the languages of the world. The fact that Pablo is the character most associated with music provides a persistent cue to his significance. Indeed, he is a genius bandleader and therefore in charge of defining the rhythms to which all others must tune their behavior. Yet, despite Harry’s efforts to discover Pablo’s value, we have little to go on until the very close of the novel, when Pablo introduces Harry to the Magic Theater.

In the Magic Theater, the seemingly simple-minded Pablo achieves his apotheosis, revealing himself to be the most enlightened figure in the story. In fact, an earlier criticism of Pablo—that he seemed unproblematic as a child—turns out to be a marker of his profound wisdom. Pablo’s wisdom does not require the stifling books and theories under which Harry has buried half his life. Rather, Pablo’s wisdom stems from lived experience, and from a deep consideration of the world that exists within one’s own soul. As Pablo explains to Harry, the important thing is to play music and play it well—not to waste time talking or theorizing about it. Pablo’s ability to shift effortlessly between his two saxophones as he plays symbolizes the ideal integration of the spiritual and the physical to which Harry aspires.