River Passage Analysis
The Realm of Reality
The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth...in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future...Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the mature man and Siddhartha the old man [are] only separated by shadows, not through reality...Nothing was, nothing will be, everything has reality and presence. (p. 87, Hesse)
The realm of reality is something that most believe to separate the phases of one’s life. Siddhartha is learning and learned that the present is the only existent in the moment, not in the form of past or future. If one lives in the present, everything will have reality and presence. The river portrays this by being a form of life flow, it is moving, yet still. Constantly changing, but forever the same.
In this novel, the river depicts all the differences between Siddhartha the boy, Siddhartha the mature man, and Siddhartha the old man. The twining stream of life represents that the present only exists now, not in the past nor future. What this means is that the past is essential to life, but does not determine the future. Siddhartha is shown how he needs to no longer focus on being different versions of himself or expecting to change, he has to be what is real within his presence.
The river is used to symbolize inner peace and comfort. It perseveres through an impossible path, yet still meets both ends: it’s source at the mouth, and the oceans and mountains. It’s a guidance tool to show Siddhartha how he should carve out his own crevice to be able to satisfy all his needs. He learns from watching the river, that once you have a set direction, nature will guide you without hesitation.
What Siddhartha needs to focus on to be enlightened, at this point of his life, is becoming one with himself. One must be able to define the separations of shadows of the past...