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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.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Steppenwolf!