By Hesse Hermann
By Hesse Hermann
Born in Germany in 1877 to a devoutly religious family, Herman Hesse grew up amongst two parents who both served as missionaries in India. His grandparents were also missionaries in the same country, so Hesse’s attraction and familiarity with the place is understandable. He received an excellent education in Germany during his childhood, but his attendance to a seminary in Wurttemberg as a teenager started a rebellious phase of two years that included running away and attempted suicide. After quitting a days-long bookshop apprenticeship and working at a clock tower factory doing manual labor, Hesse returned to the former.
Working at the bookstore afforded Hesse access to a variety of literary works, which he spent time indulging himself in. After some failed publications, he started to find a modicum of success with poems. This eventually led to his publication of Peter Camenzind, which was a smashing success and found praise from Freud. After a few more books, his interest in India was rekindled, causing him to take a trip to the region during a particularly tense time with his wife.
During WWI, he worked taking care of POWs, writing peace poems and a newspaper for them. He eventually left his wife and his children, choosing instead to live alone and pursue writing again. It was during this time that he wrote multiple works, including Siddhartha. He remarried, received Swiss citizenship, and wrote Steppenwolf.
His work was oppressed by the Nazi regime during their reign, a group which he vocally opposed, and it wasn’t until near the end of the war that he was able to publish his last novel, The Glass Bead Game. Though he wrote during the last twenty years of his life, he also painted and responded to letters he received due to his winning of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 1962.
Siddhartha was written during Hesse’s mid-life. As his family- extending to his grandparents- were missionaries in India, the region’s literature and philosophy was constantly available to him through his grandfather’s book collection. While he dived into Western thought for much of his adulthood, his interest in the East was sparked anew, taking a trip that while may not have provided the emotional and spiritual relief he sought, did serve as the foundation for Siddhartha.
The novel itself is an allegory to the Buddhist concepts of the four noble truths and the eightfold path, making up the twelve chapters of the book, as long as the three stages of life for a Buddhist male- student, householder, and recluse.
Siddhartha focuses on the titular character as he goes through life searching for the nature of existence. He is of the scholarly Brahmin class, where he is known as a religious boy. Dissatisfied by the answers he is receiving in his village, he sets out with his friend Govinda to live as an ascetic monk- a samana- in the forest. The answers he finds through this life are just as unfulfilling, and Siddhartha is convinced that what he wants can’t be taught. Rumor of a man who has achieved nirvana reaches them, and both Gotama and Govinda go searching for him. When they find him, Govinda decides to stay while Siddhartha continues on.
Siddhartha reaches a city, where upon arriving he is struck by the beauty of Kamala, a courtesan. Wanting to learn how to love, he is put on a quest to acquire riches, leading him to the merchant Kamaswami. He has a natural knack for business due to his detachment from the activity- an attitude that creates friction between him and Kamaswami. After two decades of decadence, Siddhartha is disgusted with the life he has been leading as it has dulled his spiritual sensibilities. He leaves behind everything, including Kamala, whom he doesn’t know is pregnant.
After despairing in the forest and almost committing suicide in a river. Siddhartha has an epiphany that holds him back, choosing instead to sleep by a tree. He awakens to find Govinda has passed by and was watching over him. They have a short conversation and go their ways. Siddhartha runs into the Vasudeva- ferryman who had taken him across for free many years ago, and he insists on staying and living as he does. He does so, learning about the river and rafting.
Years pass and Gotama dies, causing a flood of pilgrims to pass by the river. One of those is Kamala, who had given up her courtesan life and followed Gotama’s teachings instead. On her way to pay respects to the Buddha, while travelling with Siddhartha Jr., she is bitten by a snake near where Siddhartha and Vasudeva live. After talking some, Kamala dies, leaving Siddhartha with their son. Siddhartha tries to be a devoted father, but his son is rebellious, eventually leading to the child running away. After much resistance, Siddhartha understands that he has to let his son go.
Years pass again, and Siddhartha gets the urge to see his son. He stops short and returns to Vasudeva to discuss how ridiculous he feels to have these emotions. They sit down by the river- as they often do- and an epiphany about the cyclical nature of life, death, and rebirth, as well as the unity of all existence, hits Siddhartha. Seeing that he has learned this, Vasudeva leaves for the forest, himself already having achieved nirvana.
Govinda hears of a wise ferryman and goes to see him. Again, Siddhartha reveals himself to an unsuspecting Govinda, and the two have a discussion about nirvana and metaphysics. Though Siddhartha’s obtuse answers don’t satisfy Govinda, the latter gives a kiss on the former’s forehead and suddenly understands exactly what Siddhartha was saying.
Siddhartha and Govinda spend much of their youth in the forest as samanas. Siddhartha returns to it after he spends most of his adulthood in the city, spending time as a ferryman. The natural world is where Siddhartha has most of his revelations; the first being after he leaves Govinda, the second when he is on the verge of suicide, and the third is when he finally reaches nirvana.
The city is where Siddhartha lives as a merchant for two decades, learning about love from Kamala and about money from Kamaswami. Full of people and disappointments, the city represents the experience of sansara- the continuous cycle of death and rebirth- and peoples’ ignorance of that truth in favor of earthly goals.
The main thrust of Siddhartha’s journey begins with him wanting to connect to that divine place inside of humanity that he feels unable to access. This leads him down many paths, from denying his body to indulging it, and from teachers to auto-didacticism. Govinda is more rigid, but is living a parallel life of searching for nirvana, as well. The entirety of Siddhartha’s life is merely a set of hypotheses meant to get to enlightenment. It’s in the end that Siddhartha learns that not one experience, but the entirety of all of them is what lets someone reach nirvana.
Siddhartha spends much time moving back and forth between these two realms. His time with the samanas as an ascetic is an example of him trying to escape the physical to reach a higher spiritual plane. Unsuccessful, he moves toward the physical, living a life of wealth and decadence in the city. As that life leads to a dulling of his spiritual senses, he leaves it to return to a simpler life as a ferryman. The appearance of his son though, leads to him diving into the physical world again, this time through his expression of love. After his son runs away from home, Siddhartha looks at his commitment to the emotion as quite silly, but realizes its the unity of both the spiritual and the physical that leads to nirvana.
In the last parts of the book, the river becomes an indispensable motif. It is there where Siddhartha- after leaving the city in disgust of himself- chooses life over death. It’s the same river that he and Vasudeva listen to and watch often. It’s the same river that is the demarcation between Siddhartha’s life as a samana and a merchant. Lastly, it’s the river from which Siddhartha learns about the cyclical nature of existence- sansara- and the unity of all things at all times. With this realization, he reaches nirvana as Vasudeva had years ago.
The son of a Brahmin caste scholar, Siddhartha is a bright, handsome man full of potential and devoutly religious. Siddhartha then spends life as a rich man, a merchant, a ferryman, and a father learning something about the nature of humanity and existence along the way each time on his path to nirvana. Having reached it, he eventually helps his friend Govinda reach the same realizations he has.
Govinda is Siddhartha’s childhood friend. He gladly follows Siddhartha along on his quest for nirvana, which leads them to spend three years as samanas. Govinda eventually joins Gotama, though Siddhartha does not. He serendipitously runs into Siddhartha throughout their lives, eventually learning the essence of nirvana because of it.
Gotama comes into the story briefly though he has a pivotal role in the lives of Siddhartha and Govinda. His rumored enlightenment is what makes the boys leave the samanas, and his teachings make Govinda want to follow him, though Siddhartha is done with teachings. Meeting in a forest, Siddhartha discusses the nature of learning and existence with Gotama, which helps the latter onto his new path.
Kamala is Siddhartha’s lover and the mother of his son- Siddhartha Jr. She is a courtesan who inspires Siddhartha to learn about love and live life as one of the “childlike people.” She eventually becomes a follower of Gotama and ends up in an accident near to the place Siddhartha works as a ferryman, leaving her son with him.
Vasudeva is the generous ferryman who trains Siddhartha to work a raft and listen to the river. His patience and ability to listen inspire Siddhartha and help him learn about the oneness of existence. After helping him do so, Vasudeva walks off into the forest.
Kamaswami is Siddhartha’s merchant boss. He helps the young man learn how to work markets and trade. They often clash over their differences in how business should be handled and what attitudes should be taken in which situations.
Siddhartha is a young man of the Brahman (priest/scholar) caste in India. He- along with his friend Govinda- lives in a riverside town next to a forest. Siddhartha is both intelligent and handsome, is practicing his skills of rhetoric and meditation with Govinda, and is already engaging with the older, learned men of his town in religious discussions. Everybody in town admires him in some way or another, but it’s Govinda who loves and admires him the most for his intellect and clear destiny as a great person.
While he may spread joy to others around him, Siddhartha isn’t able to find derive that same pleasure from himself. He also suspects that the joy he feels from the love of his parents and Govinda will one day not be enough to satiate his spiritual life and that he has exhausted his father and the teachers of his town of their spiritual knowledge. He begins to question his spiritual practices, wondering if sacrificing to other gods aside Atman is a worthwhile activity. He believes that the Atman exists inside humans, occupying the same space as the human soul, but he has no idea how to access it.
Though the books and teachers seem to know much about Atman, Siddhartha wants to meet someone who also lives the life of an awoken Atman inside them. He observes that even his own father- the most intelligent and wise amongst the town’s men- continues to engage in the practices of water ablutions and sacrifice that Siddhartha can’t seem to find meaning from. He often meditates with Govinda, hoping to find answers there.
One day, a group of self-denying monks known as Samanas pass through town. The way they carry themselves inspires Siddhartha enough to want to join them. He tells Govinda, and the latter is scared as he knows that once Siddhartha begins the spiritual journey, Govinda’s own love and admiration for him will compel him to join.
Hours before dawn, Siddhartha enters his father’s bedroom to ask for his permission to join the Samanas. His father doesn’t respond for a long time, waiting long enough to notice the stars have moved. He finally admits that the request angers him and that he doesn’t want to hear it again. As Siddhartha didn’t receive an answer he stands still, waiting. His father leaves to another room and attempts to sleep, but every hour he remains awake and confirms that Siddhartha continues to wait in the same spot and in the same stance of folded arms. He eventually concedes, asking Siddhartha only to share his bliss with him if he finds it or return home to continue his religious practices if he doesn’t.
As Siddhartha leaves town to join the Samanas, he is happy to see that Govinda is joining him.
The boys offer themselves up for instruction and the Samanas welcome them. Siddhartha gives away his clothes and eats only uncooked food once a day. He then proceeds onto a fast that lasts almost a month and thins him thoroughly. This process leads him to become more observant of the world around him and the realization that all of it- either good or bad- is merely a veneer to the decay that lay underneath. With that epiphany in mind, Siddhartha becomes convinced that he needs to be free of any desire- physical or emotional- so that the inner Atman can wake up inside him.
To that end, Siddhartha subjects himself to intense weather conditions, cuts himself up by moving through thorn bushes, and learns to control his breathing, heart rate, and blood flow until all the feelings of cold, heat, pain, and heart beats have left from his body. He learns from the Samanas how meditate differently and how to experience life as different animals- their lives and deaths. Though he learns how to escape his own body in many different ways, Siddhartha always finds himself back in his own body bound to the cycle of life and death- a disheartening end.
Talking to Govinda one day while out begging for food, Siddhartha questions whether they’ve learned anything. Though Govinda is sure they have, Siddhartha isn’t quite as sure, claiming that a drunkard seems to have the same experience from alcohol of his body being numbed and his mind escaping as the Samanas do from intense meditation. A similar conversation happens on a different day, with Siddhartha questioning the value of the exercises if Samanas much older than them have not yet reached nirvana. He fears that these practices are futile and that the thing they were trying to learn can’t be learned at all. Govinda asks Siddhartha to stop with this talk as this will throw into doubt both the Brahmin caste and the value of their knowledge. Siddhartha then questions the worth of anything considered holy if it doesn’t lead to nirvana.
It comes to pass that word of a man named Gotama has reached enlightenment and gained the title Buddha- meaning “awakened.” Both positive and negative rumors abound about him, but he is gaining a following. The Samanas themselves disapprove of him as they heard he used to be an ascetic like them, but has turned to a life of pleasure. Govinda is enchanted by the idea and suggests finding Gotama to Siddhartha as the latter did say that he was looking for something other than the Samana’s exercises. Siddhartha also points out that he doesn’t think nirvana can be learned, but is happy to try it out if it will make his friend happy.
Though the Samana Govinda and Siddhartha ask their leave of becomes angry, Siddhartha is able to temper the older man’s thoughts and body with his own and gets his permission to leave. Govinda notes that Siddhartha’s mental powers could allow him to walk on water if he wanted to, but Siddhartha has no desire for such a thing.
The boys learn that Gotama is at a place called Savathi, near where a wealthy disciple of his has given over a piece of land named Jetavana to be used by him and his followers. Arriving at Jetavana, they find the place filled with a large crowd of people spending the night there. Having spent years in the forest, Siddhartha and Govinda have no trouble finding a place to sleep.
The following morning, they follow Gotama and some other monks as they go through town begging for food. Both of them recognize Gotama without anyone telling them due to the fact that they notice the complete peace and serenity the man expresses through his walk and expression. Govinda is excited to learn what Gotama has to say, but Siddhartha remains resolute in thinking that nirvana can’t be taught.
In the evening, Gotama teaches about the nature of suffering and how to overcome it through the four noble truths and the eightfold path. The lesson convinces many people to publicly proclaim they’ll follow him, including Govinda himself. Afterwards, Govinda asks why Siddhartha didn’t also join, leading the latter to reveal that this where they begin separate paths. Govinda cries and pleas to Siddhartha, asking him to stay and what fault does he find in the teachings. Siddhartha says there’s no fault in the teachings and hopes that Govinda finds salvation in them.
The next morning, Gotama leaves to start his new life, hugging Siddhartha before he goes. Siddhartha is aimlessly walking through the forest when he runs into Gotama. He asks permission to speak to him and having received it, criticizes one aspect of his teachings. Siddhartha says the Gotama teaches that the world is uniform and whole, but at the same time there is a crack in the world; this gap is making everything void. Gotama considers it and clarifies that his teachings aren’t meant to explain the world, but lead people to nirvana. Siddhartha agrees that that’s the case, but then questions whether that would work as Gotama himself didn’t reach nirvana through lessons, but through experience. Gotama asks if it would be better if the disciples went back to their old lives. Siddhartha concedes that it wouldn’t and hopes that each one of them reaches nirvana. He also points out that he’s leaving as he fears staying would eventually lead him to think he had reached fulfillment, but it would only be the love he felt for his teacher and fellow students that made him feel so. Gotama ends the conversation by telling Siddhartha he is wise. Siddhartha gets the last word by saying Gotama talks wisely, but should be cautious of too much wisdom.
Walking on, Siddhartha notes his admiration for Gotama, wishing to one day be like him by reaching nirvana. He’s also aware that Gotama has given him something by taking away something- by causing Govinda to follow him, Siddhartha is now left to walk the path with the freedom of solitude.
Walking through the forest, Siddhartha reflects on his circumstances and attempts to crystallize his feelings into realizations. He comes to know that he is no longer a boy, but a man. His desire to have teachers and learn lessons have left him, his decision to not follow the most admirable teacher- Gotama- being evidence of that. He concludes that he has no desire for teachers because they’ve been unable to help him know the one thing he wanted: freedom from himself. All the lessons he has learned have merely been ways to avoid the self, giving the illusion of freedom. He also concluded that in trying to run away from himself, he has ended up knowing nothing about himself.
With this last realization, he decides that it’s necessary to stop trying to learn by destroying himself, choosing instead to be aware of the world around him. He reasons that like someone reading a book wouldn’t be angry that letters and ink exist, neither should he shun that his body and the natural world exists; they are both mediums that should be valued as ways to understand the truth of life. He considers the epiphany to have made him reborn and consequently he can’t return home- which he was heading towards- as he needs to start a new life as a new person.
The concept terrifies Siddhartha, though, as he will leave everything he has known behind. He ruminates on how most any person has at least company in other people of the same caste, a Brahmin has other Brahmins, a nobleman has other noblemen, but he will no longer have anyone. He stands still in the forest for a long time, weighing this in his mind. When he starts walking again, it’s not towards home.
Continuing his walk through the forest, Siddhartha observes the wonders of the natural world around him. He realizes his old distrust of it was unfounded, knowing that it has always been part of him. He also realizes that expecting to find truth by critically analyzing existence was a futile exercise. Both his mind and the world are both on the opposite end of knowing himself. He comes to understand that it’s his intuition that will lead him to truth.
Spending the night in a ferryman’s hut, Siddhartha has a dream where Govinda- dressed in the yellow robes of a monk- hugs and kisses him. Suddenly, it’s no longer Govinda, but a woman who is hugging Siddhartha. He begins suckling from one of her breasts, tasting all of nature in the milk.
The next morning, Siddhartha asks the ferryman to take him across the river. Having reached across, Siddhartha explains that he has nothing to pay with. The ferryman says it’s okay as he has learned from the river that all things return and so will Siddhartha one day. Walking onward, Siddhartha compares the nature of the ferryman and most all people he meets to Govinda- friendly and willing to help.
He comes across a small village where he asks a young woman how far he is from the city. The woman begins to flirt with him, asking him whether he has had anything to eat and about the rumors of samanas not sleeping with women. She makes explicit sexual gesticulations, and, remembering his dream, Siddhartha kisses her breast. It’s at this moment that the intuitive voice that he has decided to follow speaks up though, and tells him not to do it. He listens to it and continues on his journey.
Entering the city, Siddhartha sees a beautiful woman being carried on a chair followed by a trail of servants. The woman smiles at Siddhartha, and he takes it as a good omen. He wants to follow the train into the grove where they went, but Siddhartha realizes that the servants were passing negative looks on him as he is still dressed like a samana. Asking a passerby who owned the grove, he learns that it belongs to Kamala, a courtesan.
After wandering through the city, he makes friends with a barber’s assistant. They run into each other again at a temple, and Siddhartha tells him about Vishnu and Lakshmi. He spends the night by the boats and visits the barber’s assistant in the morning to get his beard shaved and haircut.
He returns to the grove entrance at evening and then watches Kamala and her train pass again. This time though, he manages to get a trailing servant to tell Kamala that a Brahmin’s son wants to see her. The servant returns to take Siddhartha to her. There Siddhartha asks her to teach him how to have sex. It makes Kamala laugh that an impoverished samana is asking her this as it has never happened and most men that come to her are dressed extremely well and have lots of money. Siddhartha proclaims that these are easy goals and that he’ll accomplish them if that’s what she wants. He asks her if she isn’t afraid that he could just overpower her if he wanted. Kamala says that she isn’t as no one can take from someone that isn’t given to them.
Siddhartha sees the wisdom in this, then asks where he can most quickly get the things Kamala wants of him. She tells him to beg if he has no talents, to which Siddhartha says he can write well and offers to trade her one of his poems for a kiss. She agrees, and he recites one for her off the top of his head. They kiss, and Siddhartha is taken aback by it. She admits that his poetry is brilliant, but he won’t make much money off it. Listing his skills, Kamala stops him when she finds out he can read and write as most people- not even herself- can’t.
A maid comes in to tell Kamala that she has a visitor, and latter tells the former to take Siddhartha out through a back door and to give him some clothes. He ends up with some linens and outside the grove. He walks around the city until he finds an inn, then sits there and silently begs for food until someone hands him a rice cake. He wonders if this is last time he’ll ever beg, and then is suddenly filled with pride. He thinks it’s unfitting for a man who is no longer a samana to beg and gives the rice cake to a dog. He reflects on how easy it is for people not living the life of a monk, wanting only for earthly things like money and food.
The following morning he goes to Kamala’s house in the city. After giving him food, she tells him that she has gotten him an interview with Kamaswami, a rich merchant. Kamala asks where he would be without her, and he says that even though she wasn’t impressed by his ability to think, wait, and fast earlier, they are of greater value than she realizes. He goes on to say that like a rock sinking to the bottom of a lake, so does a samana go towards his goal- passing through the world with intense focus and letting nothing slow him.
Kamala admires his words and look in his eyes, then counters by saying that maybe his fortune is just because he is an attractive man who happened to chance upon a woman who noticed it.
Siddhartha goes to Kamaswami’s house and meets him. They discuss Siddhartha’s talents, with Kamaswami asking what’s the value of the things he learned as a samana, and Siddhartha explaining them. After writing a clever line, Siddhartha is invited by Kamaswami to stay in his house as they get to know each other a little better. While there, Siddhartha doesn’t indulge too much in food and learns how to be a merchant, which he considers to be a game. He soon takes up participating in Kamaswami’s business, but he also makes sure to visit Kamala every day, where he starts learning about love.
Siddhartha is soon responsible for much of the writing in Kamaswami’s business, but the latter doesn’t see a businessman’s passion in the former. Kamaswami discusses this with a friend, noting that even though he doesn’t seem engaged by the work, fortune still seems to come his way. The friend advises to give Siddhartha a third of the profits, but be responsible for a third of the losses. Even with this change though, Siddhartha remains stoic about the whole endeavor.
This is highlighted by an event when he goes to pick up some rice that he intends to purchase, and arrives to find that it has already been sold. He stays in the village a few days, buying drinks for the people and attending a wedding. When he returns, Kamaswami scolds him for staying away for so long with nothing to show. Siddhartha notes that there is no purpose in scolding and that if he himself acted like Kamaswami, he would’ve left angry and in a hurry. Kamaswami says that he went for amusement instead of business, and Siddhartha agrees, saying that there’s no other reason, lauding the fact that he made friends. He also tells Kamaswami that if he believes he is being harmed, he can be told to leave.
Kamaswami continues to be unable to convince Siddhartha to worry and claims that he taught him everything he knows. Siddhartha scoffs at the claim, saying he has only learned what numbers belong where, and it’s Kamaswami that should be learning from him.
Siddhartha is only interested in the people around him, not their businesses. He observes how they live their lives differently from them and notes that it’s his experiences as a samana that keeps him from living like they do. He wonders how they live their lives so occupied with small things that don’t concern him and how they suffer things that wouldn’t bother him a bit. He listens to everybody and treats them equally, giving out loans to debtors and watching some try to cheat him. He is fascinated with the passion they put into doing these things as much as he was fascinated by gods in his youth.
Sometimes Siddhartha hears inside him a voice that admonishes him for what he is doing, existing in the lives of these people and just watching them. It’s at these points that he wishes he could live with the same involvement in these activities that the people around him do.
When talking to Kamala, he comes to see that she understands him better than even his best friend Govinda did. He tells her that she is like him in that she has an interior refuge where she can go when she wants to. He says that it isn’t intelligence that gives her this ability, but the fact that some people are like stars, unaffected by the wind while most people are leaves, being tossed about by the breeze.
After making love, Kamala says that she would one day like to have his children one day, but she knows he doesn’t her or anyone. He says that’s so, but she must be unable to love as well if she is able to be a courtesan. He suggests that the people who aren’t like them can love, and that’s their secret.
Years pass by, and Siddhartha doesn’t notice them doing so. He becomes wealthy and spends many nights with Kamala, but still lives by the precepts he learned as a Samana. While he no longer feels the same awareness of the world and of his self that he did when he was young, he still keeps in mind the many lessons he learned from his father, the samanas, Govinda and Gotama. That being said, all his habits of asceticism have dulled over the years of non-practice. The trade is that all the physical senses that he had lost use of during his years as a samana have come back.
As Siddhartha has learned to live amongst people, his disdain for them has turned to jealousy as though he has gained much of their bad habits, he has yet to gain any of their good ones like their constant love of everything. In addition to losing the sound of the intuitive voice that initially guided him towards the city, he now hears the voice of greed. His condition is worsened by the fact that he has indulged in dice gambling. He plays high stakes game because he wants to show a disdain for money, but then works harder and become more merciless as a trader to have more money to gamble.
Spending an evening with Kamala, he realizes how tired they both seem, graying and older. He thinks about how similar sex and dying are, then tries to drown out his thoughts by drinking the night away. He finds himself unable to though, feeling disgusted with himself. He manages to sleep for a tiny bit as morning starts and has a dream about a bird that Kamala owned. In it, he finds the bird dead and picks it up. He holds it for a second in his hand and then throws it out.
He wakes up shocked from the dream then goes to his garden to consider it, and the life he has been living up until then. He wonders if he had ever felt happiness, then realizes he had, thinking back to when he was a boy taking part in the religious rituals and then a young man searching for answers. He contemplates his relationship with Kamala and sees it as an unending game without purpose.
Siddhartha realizes that he has to give up everything and continues to sit in his garden under the mango tree until nightfall. He recalls the reasons that made him leave home, separate from Govinda, and not follow Gotama. Finally, he gets up, bids farewell to his possessions and leaves.
Kamaswami sends out a search party to find him, but Kamala isn’t surprised to hear that Siddhartha left as she has always seen him as a homeless pilgrim. She takes the bird that she owns- the same one from Siddhartha’s dream- and releases it out the window. She stops taking customers and soon learns that she became pregnant from her last night spent with Siddhartha.
Walking through the forest, Siddhartha begins to reflect on how much he hates the existence he has had. He wishes for death, sure that this cycle of life has been finished for him. These suicidal thoughts follow him and continue on as he reaches the river that he crossed decades ago. Standing on its edge, he mutters the word ‘Om’- the opening and closing word to prayers. It gives him a moment of clarity, helping him remember his love of the spiritual. He then collapses under a coconut tree, falling deeply asleep.
He wakes up not knowing where he is for a bit, then remembering how he got there. He reflects on the last decades of his life and sees them as someone else’s. He feels rejuvenated by his rest.
He then notices that, in front of him, a monk is sleeping, as well. After a moment, he recognizes that the monk is his old friend, Govinda. Siddhartha’s stirring wakes up Govinda, but the latter doesn’t recognize the former. Asked what he was doing there, Govinda explains that he was on a pilgrimage with his fellow monks when he saw Siddhartha sleeping in a somewhat dangerous spot where animals and snakes pass by. He volunteered to stay behind and watch over Siddhartha, but must have ended up sleeping himself.
As they give their goodbyes, Siddhartha reveals who he is by calling Govinda by name. Govinda is stunned, feeling ridiculous that he hadn’t recognized his old friend sooner. Siddhartha asks where Govinda is going, and he explains that they’ve no particular destination. Siddhartha says that he also is going on a pilgrimage, Govinda finding that hard to believe as his clothes and appearance are that of a wealthy man. Siddhartha explains that it’s an immaterial condition, just like being a Brahmin or a samana was. Govinda doesn’t respond but walks away with a goodbye.
Watching Govinda leave, Siddhartha recalls the time he told Kamala that his talents were fasting, meditation and thought. He regrets that he gave those up for lust and money. He contemplates how he is like a child again, without ability or intelligence to guide him, and laughs at the situation. He now reflects on his past experiences as a positive thing, thinking it foolish that he thought suicide was an option. Joy fills his heart as he stands under the open sky in the forest. He realizes that he had to indulge his every earthly desire so that that part of him would die. He stays by the river for a bit longer, enjoying its sight, the nature around him and his empty stomach.
Siddhartha decides that he wants to go to the Vasudeva’s- the ferryman- hut again as he started his journey there once; he wants to start there again. He watches the river and contemplates how even though it’s always the same river; it’s always changing, as well.
Siddhartha walks down the river and comes upon the boat. He recognizes Vasudeva from years ago and asks if he can take him across the river. Siddhartha says that he envies the old man’s life, and then asks if his fancy clothes would provide enough payment for the trip over. Siddhartha reveals that he was the same samana from decades ago that couldn’t pay his fare then and wonders if Vasudeva would be willing to accept him as a new trainee. Vasudeva invites him to stay the night so as to discuss why Siddhartha wants to give up his wealthy living.
They have dinner and sit by the river. Siddhartha talks most all of the time, telling Vasudeva the entirety of his life experiences- from Brahmin, to samana, to merchant. Vasudeva seems particularly interested when Siddhartha describes his epiphany by the river. The story finished, Vasudeva says that the river speaks to Siddhartha in the same way it speaks to himself. He then tells him he can stay to learn how to be a ferryman himself.
Siddhartha is glad, saying he’ll learn much from Vasudeva, but the latter says he’s not a teacher, just a listener. He says the river will teach Siddhartha how to listen, to seek depth, and a third thing that he can’t quite verbalize. He notes that only a handful of people that have crossed the river have ever understood the river like he does- most just seeing it as an obstacle.
Siddhartha stays at the river, learning how to navigate it, build oars, and repair the raft. Siddhartha learns that there is no such as time, that- like the river- childhood, youth, and age have nothing separating them- they’re just different locations of the same thing. He discusses it with Vasudeva, who seems to have learned the same idea. Siddhartha sums the epiphany as this: Nothing was, nothing will be; everything is, everything has existence and is present.
The two men spend much time together, talking little as their minds grow synchronous with each other other’s thoughts; some claim that they even look like brothers. People come from around, hearing that they may be either wizards or wise men, though those who find them only see two old men who are, at most, weird. That being said, passengers are sometimes compelled to start divulging their life experiences to them or ask to stay the night so as to be able to listen to the river with them.
It comes to pass that the Buddha is dying, causing many travellers to cross the river. Amongst those travellers is Kamala, who- after giving up her old profession- raised Siddhartha Jr. and gave her garden over to the followers of Gotama, becoming a follower herself. On their way to the river, a black, poisonous snake bites Kamala. After panicking and yelling, Vasudeva goes to help, bringing both Kamala and Siddhartha Jr. to the shed where he and Siddhartha live.
Siddhartha knows that the boy is his son as soon as he recognizes Kamala. He consoles her for a bit before she falls asleep, and then consoles his son with an old Brahmin prayer. Both Vasudeva and Siddhartha know that she is going to die. When she wakes again, Kamala sees his face and thinks about how even if she didn’t get a chance to see Gotama, seeing the same peace in Siddhartha’s face was just as good. She dies, and Siddhartha waits by her, thinking about the importance of every moment in life.
Siddhartha skips dinner, choosing instead to sit outside the hut, getting up every once in awhile to make sure his son is asleep. He stays there throughout the night until Vasudeva comes to talk to him. Siddhartha notes that he isn’t sad because his son has been given to him. Vasudeva tells Siddhartha that Kamala died in the same bed as his wife did and that they should likewise build a pyre on the same spot for her that he did for his wife. Siddhartha agrees, and they go to do so.
Siddhartha Jr. continues to mourn his mother’s death passed her funeral. Siddhartha learns that his son has led a pampered life, one that makes him indolent and obstinate still, so he attempts to treat him gently as a way to lead him over. It doesn’t seem to work though as the boy continues to be lazy and disrespectful. While Siddhartha’s joyful demeanor becomes dour, he recognizes it and prefers having the boy in his life despite the change.
Months pass and the boy remains rebellious, leading to one day where he breaks the hut’s only two rice bowls. It’s at this time Vasudeva spoke to Siddhartha, telling him that he has noticed the change and it’s understandable as the boy grew up in comfort and was forced out of that life, whereas Siddhartha chose to leave that life. He says, “Water wants to join water, youth wants to join youth,” explaining that the life of a poor man is not for the young boy. Siddhartha is disheartened, saying that he still wants to fight for the boy’s love. Vasudeva then explains that Siddhartha would never want to punish, harm, or force the boy out of love, but the mere act of making the boy live with them is a type of forced punishment.
Siddhartha concedes, but is unsure of what to do with his son then. Vasudeva suggests that the boy returns to the city to live with his mother’s servants or be given over to a teacher so that he can be with children his age. Siddhartha worries that his proud heart may then get caught up in the sansara- the childish games that Siddhartha observed- and Vasudeva laughs at the worry, reminding Siddhartha that his own father’s teaching couldn’t even keep him from the same follies. He points out that as much as Siddhartha would die for his son to protect him from suffering, it was an inevitable result.
Siddhartha thanks Vasudeva for the advice, though he was already aware of all of it. The only thing that stopped him from acting out the best decision was his feeling of love for the boy. He recalls that once he and Kamala both agreed that neither of them could love as it was a quality of the childlike people. He realizes that he is foolishly acting out on love for his son, suffering for him though he needn’t be. He reflects on the necessity of it, and continues to raise the boy.
Siddhartha Jr. feels as if he can’t ever be won over by his father as devoutness and sainthood are of no interest to him. He hates how loving and passive his father is, never reproaching him for the trouble caused; he would prefer threats and violence. This leads to an outburst where, when asked to pick up firewood, the boy instead lashes out at Siddhartha, telling him that he isn’t he knows he won’t ever be punished and is constantly being put down by his father’s devoutness. Siddhartha Jr. yells that he would rather be a criminal just to spite Siddhartha as even though he was his mother’s lover, that doesn’t make him a father.
After the outburst Siddhartha left, returning only late at night. He was gone the next morning, having taken the ferrymen’s money and crossed the river as the raft was on the other side. Siddhartha wants to go after him, but Vasudeva points out that the boy did what his father couldn’t and is on his way the city. Crossing over, they find that the oar has disappeared, indicating that Siddhartha Jr. insists on not being followed. After helping Vasudeva, Siddhartha leaves to go find him.
While running after his son in the forest, Siddhartha comes to realize that his son isn’t in any danger, running now only to see him one more time. Upon arriving at the city, he stands in front of the garden where he first Kamala. Inside are monks, and Siddhartha relives every moment he had in the city, including the disgust he felt for himself and the suicidal inclination that he had at the river. He sits by the garden, letting the futility of his emotions and efforts weigh on him. A monk notices Siddhartha waiting there for a long while and places two bananas in front of him.
Siddhartha’s awareness returns to the real world when Vasudeva comes to pat him on the shoulder, saying no words about anything. Siddhartha offers him one of the bananas, and then they both eat and return home.
Siddhartha continues his life as a ferryman, but the pain of losing his son remains. He is envious of those that cross the river who love their children and are loved in return. He also moves from patronizing the desires of the childlike people to respecting them. As he has felt their pains and joys, he now understands that the only thing that a wise man can hold over them is that all life is one consciousness, and even then, that might only be a pride of childlike wise men. He comes to realize that the only thing he has ever wanted to learn was being able to understand that all life was one consciousness.
Siddhartha still misses his son and sets out to see him one day. Before he goes though, he leans over the river to listen to it, and sees in his own reflection his father’s face. He thinks about how his own father had to see Siddhartha leave and die without ever seeing him again. The humor and ridiculousness of this repeating cycle makes Siddhartha return to the hut instead of heading towards the city.
Siddhartha sits next to Vasudeva, telling him everything that he had just done, about the foolishness of trying to walk to the city and then listening to the river. As he continues to talk, he comes to realize that Vasudeva has changed over the years, becoming more like the river, like eternity and God and that Siddhartha he himself was turning this way, as well.
Vasudeva invites him to listen to the river together, and they do. Siddhartha hears and sees his father mourning for Siddhartha, then himself mourning for his own son, then his own son living life. He sees the similarities in each of the life trajectories and comes to think about the cyclical nature of all life, where everyone runs towards a goal like river, then reaches the ocean only to vaporize, become rain, and start again. He hears all the voices of people in the river- which he has heard before- but this time he hears them saying “Om.”
It’s at this point that Vasudeva gets up and tells Siddhartha that he has been waiting a long time to leave. Siddhartha understands and bows to him as Vasudeva walks into the forest, looking like Gotama did when Siddhartha met him years ago.
Govinda has continued to follow Gotama’s teachings and spends much of his time the garden that Kamala donated to Gotama and his monks. Though the other monks admire him, Govinda still hasn’t found nirvana. He hears about a wise ferryman and heads to see him. There, the ferryman provides transport while Govinda asks him about searching for “the right path.” Siddhartha tells him that searching is pointless, then reveals to a confused Govinda who he is and invites him to stay the night.
The following morning, Govinda asks Siddhartha if there are any bits of wisdom that he could share, and Siddhartha responds by reiterating that even though he has had teachers he doesn’t believe wisdom can taught as it requires a separation of ideas when the goal is to know that all things are the same.
Siddhartha goes into a monologue about the nature of things and how he used to hold things important because they may one day turn into Buddhas. Now, he understands that everything’s potential already exists in them, and all existence is worthy of love. That things are more valuable than words. That time doesn’t exist. Govinda disagrees, but concedes the points as he is beginning to think Siddhartha has turned odd. He also notes that Siddhartha is the only man that radiates the same holiness as Gotama did.
Govinda asks for one more word, and Siddhartha asks him to bend down and kiss him on the forehead. In that instant of the kiss, Govinda sees in Siddhartha’s face the entirety of existence- children, murderers, and animals. Govinda’s epiphany leaves him in tears as he bows before Siddhartha.
As school was coming to a close that spring, some jeeps filled with troops rolled into the far common. Brinker and Gene went out to the common to see the greeting ceremony that is happening, and Brinker brings up Leper, but Gene does not want to talk about him, or about Finny. Gene feels as though peace no longer exists for anyone, even at Devon, except maybe for the boys who were there during the summer session.
Brinker introduces Gene to his father who reminds Gene of one of the fat old men who made up the story of the war happening that Finny always used to talk about. Mr. Hadley likes to talk about war and the boys’ responsibility to fight, which Brinker apologizes to Gene for but Gene thinks he knows where Mr. Hadley is coming from. He thinks that Brinker and Finny were similar in the way that they tried to rebel to forget that the war was happening at all.
Gene does not believe that war is the fault of the fat old men, but of ignorance in the hearts of many men. While Gene is clearing out his gym locker he thinks about Finny as he often does though he refuses to talk about him with anyone because Finny is not dead to him. Finny’s way of living still resides in Gene, even as he is telling the story. Finny never had any hatred for anyone or any enemies as most people did.
Gene says that most people find something to hate and spend their whole life making that one thing their eternal enemy, though Finny never did that. Gene says that he went to war though he killed no one and never hated any of his opponents because he knew Finny would not have. Gene says that the only enemy he ever had he killed while he was at Devon.
The following morning, the boys find that the raft has drifted away, but aren’t bothered much by it as they don’t have a desire to return home. After having a bacon and fresh fish breakfast, they start to explore the island. After a morning of swimming and walking, they return to their base on the island. They all begin to feel homesick, but none will admit it. At this point, they hear loud noises and go to shore to see that a steam ferry and multiple skiffs are upon the river.
They figure out that they’re being searched for, and feel validated in their choices. They revel in the thought that everyone misses them, and eventually have dinner and lay down. The mood darkens again though as they begin to realize how everyone back home is feeling sad. Joe attempts to bring up the idea of going back, but is shot down. Tom stays up as the others go to sleep, then writes two notes. He places one in Joe’s hat, along with various other trinkets of his, and then keeps the other note for himself. He then sneaks off and runs to the shore.
Tom swims over to the Illinois side of the Mississippi as it’s much closer than the Missouri one, and sneaks aboard a skiff. The skiff travels over the river, and Tom sneaks out again. He creeps on over to his house, where his aunt, Joe Harper’s mom, Mary and Sid are all sitting in a room.
He manages to sneak into the house and under a bed near them, where he catches their conversation. He hears them speak about how much they miss them and hears them crying, and it takes much of his will to refrain from jumping out and announcing himself. He learns that people think they drowned because the missing raft they had taken was found underwater. If the bodies of the boys aren’t found by Sunday, the church will hold a service for them that day.
As everyone begins to go to sleep, Tom is about to leave the note he wrote earlier on Aunt Polly’s bed stand. He decides against it though, and returns to the island by taking a skiff to the other side, away from the island. He gets back to base in the morning just in time to hear Joe and Huck discussing whether Tom has abandoned them or not. Tom bursts in and then tells them of what he did on the shore.
The boys spend the day running around naked and playing games, swimming. Once evening arrives though, Joe finally decides he wants to head back home. Tom tries to convince them to get excited about the island by suggesting treasure is buried there, but can’t get them into it. After much quarreling, Huck decides he wants to leave as well and gets ready along with Joe. Tom is left with no choice but to reveal a plan he has been hatching. The boys get excited about the idea and decide to stay on the island.
Tom and Joe attempt to learn how to smoke from Huck, and though they enjoy the activity at first, they soon grow sick. Joe makes up an excuse about losing his knife, giving the boys a chance to split up. When Huck goes to look for them a while later, he finds them asleep. When Huck starts preparing their after dinner smokes, Tom and Joe make excuses about eating bad food.
A storm hits the area during the night, and the boys- unprepared for rain- have to find shelter under a tarp they had brought. After it passes, they start up another fire and discuss the storm, unable to sleep on any of the wet ground. Once morning hits, they sleep on the drier sand. After a late lunch, the boys start to get homesick again, so Tom distracts them with the idea of playing as Indians. After running around and returning for dinner, they hesitantly share a peace pipe, as the rules of living as an Indian demand them to.
While the boys are off playing on Jackson Island, the town is mourning their absence. Becky cries over missing Tom. The other schoolmates reminisce on what was the last thing they saw of Tom and Joe.
The next day, the church holds its service for the boys. The minister ascribes only positive traits to their memories and everyone is in tears over the eulogy, including the minister himself. In the midst of the service, the three boys come walking down the aisle. They had been watching the entire thing from an unused gallery. Everybody begins to celebrate their appearance, with Tom and Joe receiving affection from their respective guardians. Tom insists that Huck receive affection as well, though Huck prefers no one to pay attention to him.
The next morning, Tom is at the breakfast table with his family as Aunt Polly starts to make him feel guilty about not having left them a message that they were okay, noting that Sid would have done so. Tom then begins to describe how he had a dream and recounts what he saw the night he came to leave a note. Aunt Polly doesn’t see through the fraud, thinking that Tom was having a prophetic dream and admiring him for it.
At school, Tom is the center of attention along with Joe, and they both celebrate it. Becky attempts to get Tom’s attention, but he pretends to be as indifferent to her as she was to him the last time they met. Becky eventually changes tactics and begins to spend time with another boy in the class- Alfred Temple. Alfred is the same boy that Tom got into a fight with earlier in the book. Tom is sufficiently jealous of her actions and goes off during lunchtime in a fit of rage. Becky realizes her actions went too far, and leaves Alfred by himself in confusion. After some time, Alfred realizes that Becky had used him to make Tom jealous, and his hate for Tom grows. He wonders about an opportunity to get Tom in trouble, and notices Tom’s spelling book as he is walking in. He spills ink on the day’s homework. Becky sees him do it and decides to tell Tom as a way to reconcile their relationship. She changes her mind though and decides to let him get in trouble as revenge for making her feel terrible earlier.
Returning home for lunch, Aunt Polly begins scolding him as she finds out through Joe Harper’s mother that Tom’s “dream” was actually just him recounting what had happened the night he snuck over. Tom attempts to explain that he still came to comfort her, though she doesn’t initially believe it. After some coercing, she accepts it and tells him to run off to school. She finds the jacket that Tom took to the island and is torn between whether to confirm his story about the note on the piece of bark. After much debate, she checks and finds that his story was true as the piece of bark that said they were okay was still in one of the pockets.
The encounter with Aunt Polly lifts Tom’s spirits, and he even apologizes to Becky on his way back to class. Becky doesn’t take it though, making Tom angry again. Walking into class, Becky sees the opportunity to sneak a peek at a secret book that their teacher has kept locked up but often reads to himself. Becky takes the chance and finds that the book is one on human anatomy. Tom sneaks up behind her, surprising her and causing her to rip half of a page. Becky runs away, convinced that Tom will tattle on her, though Tom doesn’t have any inclination not to.
Once the class was seated, Tom’s ruined notebook comes out, and he is punished for it. Tom doesn’t think much of it though. When the teacher soon discovers his book has been ripped, he goes through asking each child. As he is asking Becky, her nervousness is easily evident. Tom steps and takes the blame before she cracks, causing him to be held after school for two hours. Becky waits for him, and they reconcile as she tells him that it was Alfred that spilled the ink on his work. Tom vows revenge.
As summer vacation comes near, the schoolmaster becomes stricter as he wants them all to perform well during the ‘Examination.’ The Examination is a sort of performance for the entire town where the schoolchildren show off their knowledge through recitations and competitions. The youngest children of the school are getting the worst of it, so they group together and try to figure out some way to get back at the teacher.
On the day of the Examination, the students begin go on about the business of displaying what they’ve learned. Tom attempts to recite the ‘Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me Death’ speech, but falls halfway through to stage fright. The awful poetry goes on until the teacher decides to draw a map of America on the chalkboard for the geography challenge. It’s at this point that the boys unleash their plan: a cat tied up and gagged is lowered from above the teacher and steals his wig. The entire crowd erupts in laughter, ending the Examination and starting off summer vacation.
Tom joins the Cadets of Temperance as he enjoys their outfits, but is finding it hard to abide by the group’s laws. As the Fourth of July parade is too far away for him to stick to the rules, he pins his hopes on the dying Judge Frazer. After wavering health, it seems the judge is going to recover, forcing Tom to resign from the group. Right after, Judge Frazer then dies, letting the Cadets take part in the procession and annoying Tom in that he wasn’t able to participate.
The dullness of summer vacation starts to hit Tom, though it’s broken up every now and then by travelling shows and performers. All the while, Tom continues to think of the murder.
The measles take Tom to bed for two weeks, during which a religious revival hits town. When Tom gets better, he finds that all his friends- including Huckleberry- are up to charity and scripture quoting, leaving him with no one to play with. He relapses and is in bed for three more weeks. Once he is well again, he finds that Joe and Huck have returned to their old ways, eating a stolen watermelon.
The trial over the murder begins in earnest, and Tom feels as if every remark about it made in his presence is made to get him to confess what he knows. He confers with Huck on the matter, making sure again that they’ll never tell. Both boys discuss how bad they feel about Muff Potter being wrongly treated as the man has been kind in the past to the boys. As they continue their habit of sneaking him things through his cell, one particular moment hits their guilt hard. He thanks them sincerely for their little gifts and warns them of the dangers of drinking. He seems ready to take punishment for a crime he didn’t commit.
On the last day of the trial, witnesses were called to confirm the circumstantial evidence that made Potter look guilty. Potter’s lawyer did no cross questioning, giving the impression that he wasn’t interested in defending the man. The lawyer then calls Tom Sawyer to the stand, to everyone’s surprise. After nervously eyeing Injun Joe, Tom begins to tell the tale of what actually happened during the night of the murder. At the climax of his telling, Injun Joe manages to rush out and escape.
Muff Potter is let go and embraced by the community. Though Tom is joyed at the recognition people give him, he is also scared as Injun Joe remains loose. Tom had told Muff’s lawyer his tale the night before he testified, and though Huck’s involvement was known, Injun Joe’s quick escape had kept his involvement secret. Though rewards are offered and a detective is brought, no sign of Injun Joe is found, leaving Tom anxious.
Tom gets the inclination to dig up some treasure and enlists Huck to join him. After a misinformed discussion about treasure burying tactics, the value of jewelry, and the Kings of Europe, they decide to start digging under the many trees of a hill some three miles away. They begin to discuss what they’ll do with the treasure, with Huck saying he’d spend it all before his father got a hold of it and Tom saying he’d use it to get married. After many fruitless digging efforts, the boys decide that they’ve gone about the whole thing wrong and need to come back at midnight.
After another failed attempt during the night, Huck is on the verge of giving up. He then suggests looking in the haunted house nearby. They argue a bit about it and decide to do it. Once overlooking the house though, they become instantly scared and decide to head home instead.
Returning the next day to get their tools, the boys are anxious to get to the house. Huck points out that it’s Friday though, and apparently it’s an unlucky day. They instead play Robin Hood, and head home. The following morning, the boys head into the house to explore. After exploring the upstairs for a bit, they hear noises downstairs and begin to hide. They spot two men come in and notice that one of the men is a deaf and dumb Spaniard who has been seen around town lately. The Spaniard speaks- to the boys’ surprise- and it turns out to be Injun Joe. He’s speaking with the other man about committing a crime, and how they couldn’t get work done the day before because of the two boys up on the hill.
The men sleep until sundown, and while the boys make one attempt to leave, the creaky floor prevents any further tries. When sunset hits, the men stir up. They reveal they have six hundred dollars worth of silver buried under a rock in the house, which makes the boys forget their fears as they grow excited. As the second man is grabbing a bit of money, he hits upon another box and paws a bit of gold. Injun Joe notes that he saw some digging tools earlier and brings them by. They dig up thousands of dollars worth of gold, exponentially increasing the boys’ excitement. Injun Joe suddenly realizes that the pick had fresh dirt on it and becomes immediately paranoid. He tries to go upstairs, but the rotting wood of the staircase collapses under his weight. The men decide to take the treasure to a different location.
Heading home, they realize that the ‘revenge job’ Injun Joe had mentioned in the house may have been meant as taking his revenge on Tom.
Tom spends the night dreaming so often about the money that he convinces himself that none of the events even happened. He talks to Huck the next morning, letting him bring up the subject so as to affirm the truth of the matter. He does, and the boys express considerable regret at the loss of the treasure. Tom becomes insistent on finding out where location ‘Number 2’ that Injun Joe had said he would take the money is. The boys deduce that it may be a room number in a tavern, and Tom goes by himself to check out the two taverns in town. One claims that a lawyer occupies the number 2 room, and the other claims that their number 2 room is locked up because it’s haunted. This piques Tom’s suspicions and works with Huck to figure out how they’re going to get in. They figure to pick up as many keys as they can and try to get into the room through a back entrance. Tom then tells Huck to keep an eye out for Injun Joe and to follow him if spotted.
The night is too clear for them to attempt to sneak in for a couple of days, but they finally get a dark night where they feel confident enough to sneak in. Huck stands watch while Tom goes down the alley to where the entrance is. After some time passes, Huck gets nervous as he has seen no sign of Tom. Tom then comes running out of the alley, telling Huck to run, as well.
Tom then describes that while the keys were making too much noise, he discovered that the door to the place wasn’t locked at all. Upon opening it, he finds Injun Joe blacked out from drinking. The room is filled with barrels of whiskey. The boys decide that that must be the place where the money is hidden, and decide to wait until they’re sure Injun Joe is out before they try to go in again.
Becky returns to town and her and Tom spend time together. She plans the picnic party she promised long ago, and a group of the children take a trip aboard a steamer. Becky’s mom suggests she stay over at someone’s house, and Becky decides on the Harper home. Tom convinces her instead to go get ice cream at Widow Dogulas’ home instead. The thought of possibly missing out on hearing Huck call him up if he spotted something is troublesome, but he puts the thought aside. After frolicking and eating, the group explores McDougal’s cave, a large systems of underground tunnels by the river.
Huck was standing watch while the party’s steamer came passed by. He had almost given up hope on the effort when he hears a door closing. He spies the two men carrying a box and decides to follow them, suspecting that they’re moving the treasure. He follows them quite a ways until he thinks he has lost them. Suddenly he realizes they’re extremely near, close to Widow Douglas’ house. He hears Injun Joe talk about how her dead husband was the one that had him whipped and mistreated. He decides to get revenge on the man by hurting her, cutting off parts of her face and head. While the partner thinks it a bit gruesome, Injun Joe is intent on doing it and threatens to kill his partner if he doesn’t come along. They can’t act now though as it seems the Widow has visitors.
Huck manages to quietly sneak away and ends up running to a nearby house owned by the Welshman. Making them promise not to tell anyone he told them this, he informs them of what he heard. The Welshman and his three sons rush off armed with Huck back to the spot. As Huck waits behind a boulder, he hears the guns fire off and a yell. He runs away.
The following morning just before Dawn, Huck goes back to the Welshman’s house. He is happily invited in and learns that while shots were fired, no one on either side was hurt, and the two criminals managed to get away. Huck is asked for a description of the two men, and the Welshman quickly recognizes that they’ve been spotted before on the Widow’s property. The Welshman’s boys are sent out to get the sheriff and find a posse, and Huck is asked for a more detailed description of how he came upon the men. Huck doesn’t want to let out that he knows it was Injun Joe, so he continues to describe him as the deaf and dumb Spaniard that’s been seen around town. His story fails though as he reveals he heard the Spaniard speak. Huck hesitantly reveals that the Spaniard is Injun Joe.
Huck also learns that the box they were carrying with them wasn’t the gold at all, but burglarizing tools. He hides as Widow Douglas, and other visitors come in to thank the Welshman. He tells them that thanks go to someone else, but won’t reveal Huck’s identity as promised.
Being Sunday morning, the mothers gather to talk and learn that Tom and Becky aren’t at each other’s houses. No one noticed them missing from the boat, and someone suggests that they may still be in the cave system. A large search party spends all day and night looking for them without success. The Welshman returns after the first day’s search to find that Huck has a fever. He gets the Widow Douglas to look after him as he returns to the search. Three days of searching continue without any success. At one point, Huck gets up and asks the Widow if anything was found in the tavern where Injun Joe was staying. He finds out there was, but it was only liquor. He asks if Tom had been the one to find it, and the Widow begins crying, though Huck doesn’t know why. He goes back to sleep, wondering if the treasure has been officially lost.
The book goes back to the day of the picnic and focuses on Tom and Becky. They explored the caves like everyone else had, going with no one but each other down the various tunnels. They happen upon a crevice that leads deeper downward into the system, and they follow it, leaving smoke markings upon the cave walls to remember their way. They run into a nest of bats that are stirred up by their arrival and are forced to run away. In the panic, they didn’t get a chance to keep track of which way they had gone, officially getting themselves lost. After some despair, they begin to try to find a way out, attempting to conserve the few candles they took with them.
Hours go by, and they can’t find a way out. Tom insists on finding a place for water, and they do so. There, Tom reveals that they’re on their last candle. Becky weeps and they watch the last bit burn away. Waiting they hear some shouting and Tom attempts to shout back with no reply. Time continues to pass, and their despair grows. Tom takes a piece of kite string, ties it to an outcropping, then attempts to do some further exploration by himself as Becky seems resigned to die by the water. At one point, he sees a light and a hand up ahead and shouts. The light reveals itself to be owned by Injun Joe though, running away from the sound of the voice. Tom is terrified and returns to Becky, explaining the shout was just for luck. Though still scared of running into Injun Joe, his fear of being stuck there is greater, so Tom head off once again with kite string in hand.
As Tuesday afternoon hits, the town is convinced that the kids have been lost. Most all the folks looking in the caves have given up save for Becky’s father and a few men. That same night though, a carriage comes into town announcing that the children have been found. The town rejoices. Tom explains that after searching various tunnels, he just happened to spot daylight in one of them. Going forward, he sees a way out onto Mississippi River shore. He returns to get Becky, and they hail down a raft with some men. They learn that they are five miles from the cave’s entrance, and the folks on the ship get them food and make them rest a bit before returning into town.
The children end up in bed for a few days as the adventure has worn them out quite a bit. Tom visits Huck once he’s better, but isn’t allowed to tell any exciting stories as Huck is still sick. The body of Injun Joe’s accomplice had been found drowned. On his way to visit his friend, Tom stops by Becky’s house were Judge Thatcher and a few friends converse with him. Here, Tom finds out that the Judge has had the entrance door to cave laden with iron and triple-locked so as to prevent further accidents like this one. Shocked, Tom reveals that Injun Joe was in the caves.
As it turns out, Injun Joe had made it back to the entrance to the cave but had already been locked out. His starved corpse is found next to that of some bats he had presumably eaten. His bowie knife was broken, and there were scratches along the door, implying he had tried to cut his way out, though the effort would have been futile as a large rock also barred his way. He is buried near the cave, and his grave becomes part of the place’s attraction.
Tom visits Huck the day after the funeral and they explain each to each other what had happened on their individual adventures. As their conversation continues, Tom exclaims that the treasure wasn’t in room Number 2 of the tavern, but remains in the cave. They outfit themselves and head back to where Tom managed to escape the tunnels. He leads them back to the spot where he saw Injun Joe and finds a cross there as they had thought. They dig around and find that a stone was covering up a chasm at the end of which holds the treasure, a keg, and some guns. The boys leave the guns and kegs for future robbing expeditions and pack up the money. Once home, they borrow a wagon and head towards the Widow Douglas’ house, where they plan to hide it.
Passing the Welshman’s house, the boys are stopped by the man and told to follow him up to Widow Dogulas’ house. He carries their wagon for them, convinced it’s just old, heavy metal that they’ve gathered up to sell. Once at the house, family and friends meet them. They’re told to clean up and put on the new suits that have been bought for them.
As the boys are left to dress, Huck suggests escaping, since he has no desire for large crowds. Tom reassures him though. It’s at this point that Sid comes in. He reveals to them that the Welshman is planning to reveal a secret, and most everybody knows that it’s going to be revealed that Huck was the one that informed the Welshman about the robbers. At the dinner table, this is exactly what happens, making Huck even more uncomfortable at the attention he is receiving. The Widow Douglas expresses her gratitude, proclaiming she plans to take Huck into her house to educate him and save up money to put him in business one day. Tom says this won’t be necessary, since Huck is already rich. The jokes are quickly silenced as Tom brings in the bags of gold from the wagon. After explaining how they acquired it, the money is counted up to $12,000.
The boys’ fortune made public, many townsfolk start tearing up haunted houses and caves in search for their own. The found money is invested for the boys, giving them a dollar a day. Judge Thatcher’s admiration for Tom after saving his daughter grows ever more once he hears how he took a whipping for her when she had ripped the schoolmaster’s book. Judge Thatcher aims to make sure Tom has admission to both the military academy and a good law school, should the boy choose to employ himself in either or both professions.
Huck is taken in by the Widow Douglas. His life becomes ordered, clean, and he sleeps on cleans sheets and a soft bed. Unsurprisingly, Huck despises this life and goes missing for two days. The river is searched for his body, the town is scoured, but no one can find him. Tom sneaks to an empty hog shed behind the old slaughterhouse, and finds Huck there. Huck hates living with the Widow and wants to give up his share of the money if being rich requires changing his life. Tom then describes how Huck can’t be part of the robber’s gang if he isn’t respectable, as though politeness may not be a characteristic of a pirate, it certainly is one of robbers. The threat of not being included in the gang frightens Huck enough to go live with the Widow until he’s proper enough to become a criminal.
Edna arrives at Adele’s home at the beginning of her labor. The latter is dramatically denouncing the doctor and questioning why everyone has abandoned her. Doctor Mandelet arrives to help Adele and takes the situation as lightly as the nurse, despite Adele’s panic. Edna stays throughout the entire thing and feels uncomfortable at having to remember her own childbirth.
The birth finished, Edna bids Adele farewell by kissing her forehead. While leaning in, Adele- without provocation or context- tells Edna to “think of the children.”
Dazed from the event, Edna turns down Mandelet’s offer of a ride, choosing instead to walk. Mandelet directs his car to her house to meet him there and accompanies her. She thinks out loud about what Adele said, how it’s better to be awake than asleep but perhaps not at the price of children. Understanding Edna’s jumbled words, Mandelet offers himself as someone that can be trusted, and tells Edna that they can talk of things she never thought she’d talk about.
After Mandelet leaves, Edna stops short of going inside and instead sits on the porch. She lets her negative emotions dissipate as she thinks of Robert and fantasizes about touching him. Though Adele’s words struck her intensely, Edna decides that tomorrow will be the appropriate time to consider the consequences of her action regarding her children.
Upon entering, she finds that Robert is gone, having left only a note that reads “I love you. Good-by- because I love you.” Edna’s heart is broken and lies down on the sofa. She spends the entire night awake.
On Grand Isle, Victor is doing some repairs while flirting with Mariequita and describing the dinner party he attended at Edna’s house. As they talk, Edna herself comes from around the corner, disheveled and dirty. Edna has come by boat to the island with no company and notes that the place seemed “dreary and deserted.” Victor quickly offers her his own room, as it’s the only place ready to house people. Edna asks when dinner will be ready, as she is hungry, and says she would like to take a swim. While both Victor and Mariequita think the idea is foolish as the water is cold, Edna insists and asks them to bring her towels.
Walking to the beach, Edna doesn’t think of anything, as her night spent on the couch was where she had done all the thinking she needed to do. She had thought about how neither Leonce nor Alcee mattered, and that the only person she wanted near her was Robert. She realized that it was inevitable that she would forget Robert and move on, but she also knew that her children were shackling her to a life that she didn’t want. The narrator notes, “she knew a way to elude them.”
Along the way to the shore, the giant sea stretches before her, and she sees a bird with a broken wing floating down towards the water. Instead of changing into her swimsuit, Edna chooses to go naked instead and feels like a new person. She starts swimming out and doesn’t stop nor look back. She thinks about how Robert didn’t understand her nor ever would. Possibly Mandelet would’ve, but it was already too late. She continues to swim- growing ever more tired- and as she recalls childhood memories of the Kentucky meadow of tall grass and the colonel she was infatuated with as a child, she lets the sea embrace her.
Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship. Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.
Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.
Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.
Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.
Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.
The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.
Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.
Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.
Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.
Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.
Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.
Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.
Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.
Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.
Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.
Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.
Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.