Saturday, February 26, 2011

Siddhartha and The Awakening Notes

Notes on Siddhartha:

-characters: Siddhartha, Govinda, the Brahmin, Buddha, the ferryman, Kamala, the tradesman,  the son

-setting: India, at his father's house, in the forest, in the grove, in the city, by the River

-symbols/motifs: the River, Om, time, sleep, voices, Nature (night, sky, stars, birds, snakes), Enlightenment, Self, Oneness, ego, asceticism, the soul, inner voice, Samsara,  love for children, buddhism, peace, fulfillment, life, teachers, food

Siddhartha is really about reaching Enlightenment, which is the final destination. Having reached that, one can go into Oneness with Nature and the world, connected by the word Om.  Siddhartha searches  for his Self  or Atman. He seeks to reach into his soul to learn who he is and where he belongs, where he is happy, the secrets of the world, about life. He tries to destroy his ego while living as a Samana. But that way doesn't work. Ego is not destroyed by force or methods, but by will. Siddhartha is on a path, also, to asceticism. His real life is by the River and this book is a search for that life.

By the River, Siddhartha learns the meaning of Om, that time does not exist, death does not matter, (death goes along with Oneness), and that he must live in the present and not plan ahead. Each day is worth living, so don't worry about the future or the rest of life or the world. Just live. To live, Siddhartha must learn to listen. To his Atman inside himself. To his inner voice. To his mentor, the ferryman, and to the River. Those who listen to Nature are wiser than those who do not, or try to force themselves into Nature. This book suggests that Nature is not totally indifferent and that all people were born a part of it, but most have removed themselves from it.

Om reflects Enlightenment, and it is the River that teaches Siddhartha to hear Om. To reach Enlightenment, one must live a simple lifestyle and listen to Nature. This book suggests that Nature knows more than humankind and nothing can be achieved without it. One must have Nature to live, as seen when Siddhartha's life in the city suffocates him. He seeks to escape Samsara, the cycle of all life and live outside of it. He comes to this by the River, but ultimately find that he cannot escape it because he is a part of it.

Time does not exist in this novel. I mean, it does, but only briefly. Time is not relevant, does not matter, because life is just life. Life would exist even if time did not. Everything is in the present, so time does not exist. The future is not at that moment, the past is not at that moment, and so only the present matters. This also goes along with the idea of Samsara. There is no mention of the seasons. All life is meant to be searching for enlightenment, which is the true goal.

Siddhartha is an excellent book, one I wish I owned. It's very deep and in a way, reflects every one's search for life.

Notes on The Awakening:

This is the latest book my English class is reading. Somewhat boring, but not hard to read, and some parts are interesting.

-characters on Grand Isle: Edna, Leonce, Robert, Madame Lebrun, Victor, Mariequita, Adele, the lovers and the lady in black, Mademoiselle Reisz, the children, ect.

-setting: Grand Isle for the summer (later in the French Quarter of New Orleans)

-symbols/motifs: the ocean, birds (the parrot, mockingbird, owl), sleep, clothing, art, the moon

The ocean is never ending, calm, inviting, seductive, until she actually goes swimming alone, goes to far out, and almost drowns. The ocean represents Edna's desires for love and freedom. Personally, this is my favorite symbol. I love the ocean. But it is indifferent to humans and to Edna. Nature as beautiful as it is, can be dangerous, as Edna discovers. The ocean is best seen outside of it.

The caged birds are Edna. She is caged in a marriage and life she doesn't understand. The caged birds are disturbing and are constantly trying to get heard. No one is looking inside Edna's heart to see what she feels or thinks. The owl is free, but only at night. Edna is free from the world at night, when she is asleep. Sleep is an escape, and Edna longs for it. Edna is often tired, drowsy, or weary. Life is taking it's toll on her.

I don't really understand clothing as a symbol, because it's everywhere. But on Grand Isle, it is all white. In Creole society such as this, chastity is very important and goes along with the idea that the family is the core of life for women. White represents purity.

Art hasn't really come up yet. But Adele did try to paint Edna. And Mademoiselle Reisz and Adele did play beautifully on the piano. She was considered "an artist of the piano. (or of music). I'll be watching out for more.

The moon appears often, but I'm not sure what it means. We haven't discussed it in class yet. But there is "white light" that always comes out with the moon. And the owl often howls when the moon is out. And when the moon is out, it is night and Edna can escape into sleep.

All the symbols in the book are connected. More on The Awakening in later posts.

Other than reading these two books, I'm trying to read Northanger Abbey, but I've been busy this week. But hopefully, I'll get to read some of it this weekend.