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Steppenwolf is really a criticism of common, or bourgeois, culture. Haller disdains the ordinary and common in life that is so easily accepted by the masses. As a result of his rejection, he is made to feel like an outsider.
Three minor Themes are developed in the novel. The first is the importance of music to soothe the soul. In contrast to music is the mechanization of life; throughout the book Hesse is very critical of modern technology and its impact on life. The criticism of German nationalism is the third minor theme.
The essential mood in Steppenwolf is confrontational and contemplative. Haller, the artist who thrives on beauty, must confront his baser self, whom he calls Steppenwolf. In trying to resolve his two selves, he contemplates his reactions to music, literature, and dance. The schizophrenia of the individual and various aspects of the bourgeois society are also subjected to his scrutiny.