Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Sinclair is tormented by fear, restraint and bad conscience. These come from the "other world", the outside world. He has sexual feelings and feels guilty about them. His parents are of no help, so far as the problems of puberty are concerned. Like many people, he suffers during this period. He has dreams and images, which indicate the end of childhood. The "dark world" of which Kromer had been a part, returns to him. Max Demian is a part of his life although he does not talk to him for more than a year.
One day Sinclair sees Max Demian who looks neither masculine nor childlike; neither old nor young. Yet he seems as though he is a thousand years old, somehow timeless. Perhaps he is handsome. Perhaps Sinclair likes him. Perhaps he is repulsive. There are many rumors about Demian. Some say he is Jewish, some say he is a heathen. Some even suspect him to be his mother's lover. Most probably, he is brought up without any religious instruction. Finally his mother lets him take the confirmation lessons. He is in the same class as Sinclair.
For sometime Sinclair tries to avoid him as he is surrounded by many secrets and legends, but he does feel a bond between himself and Demian. However he is indebted to him because of the Kromer affair. Demian is never rude to the teacher. He plays certain tricks in class but never with the teacher. He does not gossip in class. He never mentions his mother in class, although he is said to have a close relationship with her.
Sinclair's thinking is influenced by Demian. Cracks develop in his religious belief but not in the same way as the other fellow students who boast of disbelief. Demian's opinion is that we can influence others to think the way we want provided what we want is reasonable and not impossible. Sometimes Sinclair concentrates intensely (to make his wishes come true) but he gets no results. Demian's interpretation of religious stories is shockingly different from that of religious teachers. For example his interpretation of Cain's story is much too difficult to digest. The Biblical account of the suffering and death of the Savior have influenced Sinclair. He was deeply moved when he heard about it from his father during his childhood.
Demian tells Sinclair that there is no mention of sexuality in the Old Testament or the New Testament. He feels that everything, which is a reality, should be considered sacred, otherwise a part of the world is neglected. He refers to this as the other half of the world, which he considers to be the Devil's. This idea corresponds to Sinclair's "world of light" and the "dark world". He tells Demian of his conception of these two worlds. Demian explains that Sinclair's sanctioned world is only one-half while the other is suppressed, as is done by the priests and teachers. However, Demian agrees that one should not kill someone or rape a girl. But we must understand the meaning of "forbidden" and "permitted". What is forbidden at one time may not be forbidden forever. Laws are subject to change.
As the confirmation day approaches, the topic is the Last Supper. This being an important topic, the pastor makes great effort to explain it to the students. The mood during the last hours of instruction is solemn. There is excitement at being confirmed but Sinclair is more prepared to enter the world of Demian. However, he tries to suppress the idea and present himself with dignity during the confirmation ceremony. By now he is influenced by Demian's talk.
One day an argument ensues between Sinclair and Demian. Demian tells him that clever talk is of no use. "One has to be able to crawl completely inside oneself like a tortoise." They then go to the classroom. Suddenly Sinclair notices that Demian is motionless, pale and as though he is dead. Sinclair trembles at the sight. He wonders what is he thinking? What is he feeling? Where is he? Is he in heaven or in hell? At the end of the period Demian is same as before. He is full of life. During the next few days, Sinclair tries a new exercise in his bedroom. But he gets no worthwhile results. He feels tired and his eyelids itch.
Sinclair's childhood has ended. Things like books, music and woods, clearance sale of second hand goods, which once gave him pleasure no longer, do so. The feeling of joy is lost. His parents look upon him with embarrassment. His sisters become strangers to him. It is decided that he should be sent to a boarding school after vacation. His mother sometimes approaches him tenderly as though taking leave of him in advance. Demian is away on a trip and Sinclair is alone.