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The irony of the situation derives from the fact that civilization, which demands order and compromise, would never have reached its high status without creative people like the lonely Steppenwolf.
The conflict in Steppenwolf is clearly depicted. He loves the order and cleanliness of the middle class boarding house, but he is driven to the streets by his inner being to search for some sensual pleasure, some way to express his emotions. Out in society, however, he is judged to be an "outsider," characterized by creativity, spirituality, and intellectuality. He and his ideas are tolerated, because society believes they can be absorbed into its "elasticity." They think they can chain the wolf.
When the wolf is totally controlled, it creates tremendous pressure and tension within a human. The Treatise suggests a suitable remedy. It is pointed out that humor is always a way to resolve conflict and lessen tension. If an individual can relax enough to laugh at himself and at life's experiences, the wolf is then tamed rather than chained. This is important, for a chained wolf will finally erupt in a destructive manner.