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PART II: Harry Haller's Records
Steppenwolf begins his story with an account of a typically uneventful day in his life. He goes down the steep stairs of his boarding house and notices that they are well-brushed and clean. Steppenwolf has a special liking for spotlessly ordered middle- class homes of the bourgeoisie. With a cheerful light-heartedness, he goes outside and moves through the wet, narrow streets of the town. The weather causes him to reflect on his youth. He remembers the time when he had loved the dark, sad evenings of early autumn and winter. He also remembers how he would imbibe the loneliness and melancholy of the rains and storm of winter. He then recalls a concert of lovely old music that he has recently attended. After hearing two or three notes of the piano, a door suddenly opened to another world, and for a short while he saw God at work. The same image returned to him in a dream.
As he walks, Steppenwolf notices a stone wall, between the hospital and church. He thinks perhaps it has been recently painted, drawing his attention. Though it is dark, he sees certain letters appearing and vanishing on the wall. He realizes that a neon sign has disfigured the sturdy wall. He strains himself to read the lighted words: "Magic Theatre. Entrance not for Everybody." He wonders who goes inside. Then when he looks at it again, he notices that the words have changed to read, "For Madmen Only." Part of him yearns to enter the theater for madmen, but he walks on. Steppenwolf finally finds an ancient tavern, which has not been altered since his first visit to that town twenty-five years earlier. He goes inside and orders; while he waits, he reads the newspaper. He then eats and enjoys some wine. Warmed by the wine, he remembers a melody he has heard in a musical concert. For an hour, Haller is able to live without torment.