Chapter 10: "The Son" Notes from Siddhartha

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Siddhartha Chapter 10: "The Son"

Young Siddhartha watches his Kamala's burial after cremation on the same hill where Vasudeva's wife was buried. Siddhartha feels a growing love for this boy and decides that his son shall stay there to live with him in the hut next to the river. The boy does not adjust very well to these new living conditions; he had been raised in Samsara and pampered by his mother. He had servants before and ate fine foods and wore rich clothes. The life of luxury and excess that Siddhartha had abandoned in the town is what his son now inwardly craves to return to; the father hopes to win his son over by love and patience, wishing that the boy will love and respect him, too.

Months pass by, yet the boy remains defiant and angry that he must live such a life amongst these two old men. He does not care that one of them is his father, for their life is boring and stupid to him. Vasudeva knows this and tries to make Siddhartha understand why his son is not happy. He says that the river has laughed as well, for Siddhartha has made another blind mistake. Now it is not his intellect but instead his emotions and heart that deceive him. Siddhartha does not listen, believing that one day the boy will hear the voice of the river that is Om and understand the cycle of life, too. He forgets his own conclusion that one cannot transfer experience to anyone else, for now he has become like the Buddha, a Samana elder, his own father the Brahmin or Kamaswmai, attempting to inflict his own understanding upon another. He has been blinded by love for this boy and has become selfish by refusing to let the boy leave in spite of Vasudeva's wise advice. He hopes that Young Siddhartha will understand everything without experiencing any hardship himself.

Topic Tracking: Teacher 12

The old ferryman explains that as a father, Siddhartha should try to discipline his son. Siddhartha is incapable of doing this, since he is at peace with everything and is unable to be forceful. Thus he waits patiently for his young son to love him and to be enlightened, as he had been, just by staying there near the river. At the same time he recognizes how his own father's words were unable to keep him from leaving so many decades before. He understands that what he is doing is irrational, yet Siddhartha still allows his emotions to consume him. "It was true that he had never fully lost himself in another person to such an extent as to forget himself; he had never undergone the follies of love for another person. He had never been able to do this, and it had then seemed to him that this was the biggest difference between him and the ordinary people...[now] He was madly in love" Chapter 10, pg. 99. Siddhartha finally allows human emotion to control him through his blind love for Young Siddhartha.

As time continues to pass, the son does not become adjusted to his father's life near the river. Instead, he grows increasingly rebellious and does not love his father; he even learns to despise him. Young Siddhartha wishes that his father would punish him and give him some guidance. But his father is too nice of an old man to be reduced to this level. One day, enraged, the boy screams aloud, "You want me to become like you, so pious, so gentle, so wise, but just to spite you, I would rather become a thief and a murderer and go to hell, than be like you. I hate you; you are not my father even if you have been my mother's lover a dozen times!" Chapter 10, pg. 100. He is bored with the life near the river, and he runs away, stealing their ferryboat the next night to cross the river and go back to Samsara.

Siddhartha is heartbroken and won't accept that his son is gone. Determined, he and Vasudeva make a raft to cross the river and retrieve the ferry. Their oar has disappeared, presumably broken or thrown away by the son, as a symbol that he does not want to be followed. The sorrowful father obsesses over his lost son, leaving Vasudeva near the river to make a new oar with his hatchet as Siddhartha wanders off into the forest towards Samsara, a path he had walked so many years before. Arriving in the grove where he had first met Kamala when he had been a young and arrogant Samana, Siddhartha pauses. Now the grove is filled with Buddha's disciples wearing yellow monk robes, gifts from Kamala. He remembers everything again: his entire life as a young Brahmin's son, leaving his father to become a Samana, the visit to Gotama where Govinda left him, and now finally this spot where he had met Kamala. The memories flood his soul, and he remembers how corrupt and sinful he had become as a wealthy merchant. He recalls his suicidal thoughts near the river, his second awakening and his new life as a ferryman with Vasudeva.

Topic Tracking: Self 12
Topic Tracking: Nature 13

Everything unifies within his thoughts, and he reflects, recognizing his folly at last, although it hurts him terribly to let the boy go. He does not go any further than that grove, for "Siddhartha realized that the desire that had driven him to this place was foolish, that he could not help his son, that he should not force himself on him. He felt a deep love for the runaway boy, like a wound, and yet felt at the same time that this wound was not intended to fester in him, but that it should heal" Chapter 10, pg. 103. He feels the same sense of loss and pain that Kamala had felt after learning that Siddhartha had left her side, for she had loved him so much. The cycle continues, and with this last lesson learned, Siddhartha lays in the grove, depressed, reminding himself of Om, until Vasudeva comes to bring him back to his hut near the river. The old man comforts Siddhartha, although they do not speak about the lost boy. Siddhartha sleeps in the hut, lamenting what he has lost and what he has finally forced himself to give up.

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