Summary of Walden Pond


For about the first half of the book Thoreau questions the
lifestyles that people choose. He makes his readers wonder if
they have chosen the kind of life that will really offer them
happiness. Are they merely living a career or some other
narrowly focused routine or is a worthwhile life being lived.
Thoreau wonders if the truly valuable elements of life are
being taken advantage of if a person isn't living simply. If a
person is so caught up in working or never having enough then
life, its wonders, and satisfaction are difficult to obtain.
As he states in the beginning (pg4), "most men even in this
comparatively free country, though mere ignorance and mistake,
are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously
coarse labors of life that is finer fruits cannot be plucked by
them." This to me means that people care more about the fine
things in life and easier work instead of nature's gifts and
hard work. Thoreau draws a parallel between others
preoccupation wit! h money and his own enjoyment of
non-monetary wealth. Thoreau's statement " A man is rich in proportion
to the number of things he can afford to leave alone" means that rich
refers to having the opportunity for spiritual and intellectual gains
and afford refers to the self-actualization rather than to cash in the
bank. Those are just some of the materialistic terms that Thoreau uses
to refer to non-materialist values, making fun of the capitalist in the
Thoreau uses the opportunity of the first chapter to discuss
the issue of how we spend our time and energies. It is obvious
that his townspeople are not as economical as they spend many
hours working very hard to accomplish very little, showing a
false sense of economy. Thoreau believed that all attempts to
redeem mankind from its problems were useless unless such
attempts began with the person. The individual person had to
stop thinking more about the lesson nature had to offer.
Thoreau thought that by living simply with few needs or
material possessions man would have more time to enjoy life to
its fullest natural potential. In the other chapters of the
book Thoreau goes on to tell about his experiences with nature
while living on Walden Pond. The bean field which he grew, and
put so much work into. He did not know himself what the meaning
was of planting the garden only that he felt self-respect from
doing so. They "attached him to the earth." And he got
strength from it. He told of the villagers and how he spent
his days with them chatting till everyone was gone or just
listening to the gossip whether it came from people or the
newspapers, in which he thought was refreshing in its own way.
When he had "worn out all his village friends", he would go for
walks in unfamiliar woods and new pastures and eventually end
up back at the cabin in his home of solitude. He liked to take
hold on life and spend the day more as the animals do. Thoreau
loved the wild not less than the good. He believed that there
was a period in the history of the individual when the hunters were the
best men. A boy who has never fired a gun is no more inhumane but his
education has been sadly neglected. The young mans introduction to the
forest is the most original part of himself. He first goes as a hunter
and fisher until he has the knowledge of nature and leaves the gun and
the fishing pole behind. Thoreau believes that hunting is a stage of
man's development. According to Thoreau every man is the lord of a
realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a pretty
state, a hummock left by the ice. Yet some can be patriotic who have
no self- respect. They love the soil, which makes their graves, but
have no sympathy with the spirit of the soil.
Thoreau left the woods for the same reason that he went there
which to me is because he had more to do in life and more
dreams to fill, and did not want to waste anymore time on
Walden pond when there was so much more to do elsewhere. He
learned that if one advances confidently in the direction of
his dreams, then he will endeavor to live the life that he has

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