Summary of Walden Pond

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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.

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