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In spite of his intellect and creativity, Haller has an attraction for bourgeois structure, even though he will not openly admit it. He does confess that he has a passion for middle-class homes that are organized and spotless, just the opposite of how he lives his life. He envies the repetitious routine and solid values of the Editor, even though he criticizes him for his limited existence and restricted views. As a result of this internal conflict, Haller is tremendously unhappy and psychologically depressed. As he walks through the streets, he reflects on his lost youth and contemplates on the uselessness of his present existence.
Since the novel is largely autobiographical, it should be remembered that Hesse, the artist/author, is splitting himself into Steppenwolf, the miserable loner who always feels like an outsider, not fitting into the bourgeois culture, and Haller, the creative genius considered to be a madman by the bourgeoisie. Haller's intellect, interests, and creative pursuits differentiate him from ordinary people and prevent him from experiencing the normal joys of family life. As an artist, however, Haller has uplifting moments in life when he experiences the sublime sense of being in harmony with all creation; these moments are usually marked in the novel by a golden track, trail, or thread.