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Ch. 1 Answers

Page last modified 12:33, 15 Feb 2012 by Christopher_Perkins
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    SIDDHARTHA          STUDY GUIDE                    ANSWERS                            


    1.      Identify Siddhartha and Govinda and discuss their friendship.  How are they alike and different?  Do you have an important friendship?  How would it compare to that relationship described in the novel?  Siddhartha is the protagonist.  He is a Brahmin’s son and is young and handsome.  Govinda is his best friend.  Govinda looks up to Siddhartha and is more of a follower.  They are both looking for something “different,” but in this chapter they are dependent upon each other.  Govinda needs someone to support him and guide him, and Siddhartha doesn’t seem to want to journey alone.


    2.      Describe the quality of life that Siddhartha leads.  Identify his family, friends, religious experience and training.  Siddhartha has a good life.  His father is a Brahmin, so Siddhartha learned about religion from a very early age—he knows how to meditate and feels a connection to Atman.  His father is very proud of his son and wants Siddhartha to follow in his footsteps and become a Brahmin.  His mother has figured less in his life, but seems to be a caring, nurturing mother as she used to sing to him when he was young.  She is also very proud of him, particularly of the way in which he cares himself with grace and dignity.  His main friend is Govinda, who follows in his footsteps.


    3.      Why is Siddhartha disillusioned with performing the ritual of ablution?  What does he fear if he stays at home and continues with his father’s religion?  Ablutions only symbolically wash away sins; they do not “relieve the distressed heart” and do not bring happiness.  He questions the existence and omnipotence of the gods, so such rituals are a waste of time.  He fears that he will not understand the world or himself and that all his acts of religion are worthless because they do not answer his questions or bring happiness.


    4.      What does Siddhartha conclude about finding peace?  Why does he fear that he will not find it in prescribed religious teachings?  Each individual must find his own peace; no one else can provide it for him.  The source of peace must come from within, so each person must seek to know himself.  He does not see that his father or the other holy men are at peace because they continue to perform the same rituals day after day.  Because of this repetition, the rituals do not provide any answers.


    5.      Explain the steps in the reaction of his father to his decisions and Siddhartha’s responses.  What does this exchange reveal about parent and child relationships?  At first, his father calmly states that he is angry.  He rejects Siddhartha’s request and basically says, “We’re not talking about this again.”  Siddhartha does not give in, but he also does not disrespect his father.  He does not use words, but his body language and the looks he gives his father indicate that he is still asking to leave.  His father becomes angrier and will not talk to his son.  Siddhartha is persistent, but still respectful.  Eventually, when the father realizes that Siddhartha is still focused on his desire but has not disobeyed him, he relents and allows Siddhartha to leave.  He finally agrees to share in Siddhartha’s learning process.  Children make requests that their parents do not and/or cannot support, but if a child is respectful the parent is more willing to listen to the request.

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