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Walden Summaries Essay Research Paper Walden

Walden Summaries Essay, Research Paper Walden – Sounds Summary For all the greatness of literature, there is a greater language of life, the language without metaphor. It is the language where things happen: rays of light shine through the window, the bean plants blossom in the garden, the birds flit through the house. “I love a broad margin to my life,” Thoreau writes .

Walden Summaries Essay, Research Paper

Walden – Sounds

Summary

For all the greatness of literature, there is a greater language of life, the language without metaphor. It is the language where things happen: rays of light shine through the window, the bean plants blossom in the garden, the birds flit through the house. “I love a broad margin to my life,” Thoreau writes . Attention to the present moment will make life as exciting as a novel because life then becomes the entertainment. Time is no longer divided into units, but flows between past and future, pausing as we experience the present moment.

Thoreau’s house was on the side of a hill, surrounded by fruit, trees pushing leaves on tender boughs, and limbs breaking from the lush weight of berries. He heard the sound of birds interrupted only by the whistle of the locomotive whirring as it made its way along the tracks. The locomotive! Shining and snorting like some new being, it made its regular appearance just like the sun. This silver machine caused people to be regular, punctual with hours and moments. Men shoveled the snow with courage so that the locomotive could rumble though, filled with commerce, bringing cloth and wood, hemp and fish. Cattle trains! Pastoral life whirled away. But he crossed the tracks, not staying to see or hear the smoke, the steam, and the hissing.

On Sundays he hears bells, the wood-nymph echo of bells from the forest. The mooing of a cow, the buzz of a whippoorwill. The screech owl cries out against the night, Oh-o-o-o-o that I never had been bor-r-r-r-n!, echoing across the lake. Or the hooting owl, Hoo hoo hoo, hoorer hoo, hooting so that men need not. Then the wagons creak in the night, and the frogs make their guttural tr-r-r-oonk into the twilight air.

In the morning he has never heard a cock-crowing, or any of the domesticated birds. His life was all nature, with bramble bushes creeping into the house. Creeping, no yard, no gate, the world.

Commentary

The image of the train is fascinating in the world of Thoreau. On one hand, the train symbolizes the progress and speed of the world that he deplores. He describes the rush of commerce from one place to another. In the first chapter, he spoke of how men’s lives were wasted building the railroad. This machine, with its speed and silver, whirls away the pastoral life. In the end, he leaves the tracks. However, at the same time, there is a definite attraction to the whirling beast. Thoreau calls it the “iron horse” and describes it with awe, using sublime descriptions. Mechanical objects definitely have an attraction for Thoreau, perhaps because of his background as an engineer, and he says that he feels “refreshed” as the train passes by. Yet, he pulls away.

Perhaps this is the most telling reflection of the time in which Thoreau existed. Technology was changing at a wondrous rate, but the vestiges of “rural America” still remained. Most people did not live in cities, but trade and commerce were pulling people toward urban life. Thoreau is swept into the beauty of the train. Speed and progress are seductive, yet he also must ask himself what the effects of the train are. He seems to come to some peace, admiring the train aesthetically while keeping a sense of distance from the results.

All of the sounds in this chapter follow the ebb and flow of one day. They begin with the morning sounds, progress to sounds of the afternoon, move into the evening, and then return to the sounds he does not hear in the morning. Time and sound are deeply linked. When he describes the whippoorwill he describes the precision of the space between each call. The whistle of the locomotive sounds at the same time each morning. The church bells ring on Sunday. Each sound signals something, but at the same time, Thoreau exists within each moment, basking in the implications of each sound.

Brute Neighbors

Sometimes another man fished with Thoreau in the mornings. They talked of the sky, caught worms, and then went on their way. Thoreau also watched the animals around his house. Little mice lived with him. A phoebe built a nest in his shed, and a the rac coon lived in the woods behind his house. Once, he observed black ants and red ants fighting over wood chips, a battle as fierce and terrible as any human war. He picked up a chip and watched one ant gnaw another under the microscope. He details the re cords of other ant battles in literary writings. He writes of the fox, the loon, and the ducks, all loving the pond as he does.

Commentary

Thoreau simultaneously separates us from other animals and includes us in the long line of inhabitants of the earth. Just as he admires his friend’s animal nature in “Visitors,” he admires animals and uses comparisons with butterflies and flies to tell u s how we should be. At the same time, even while acknowledging our brute desires, he extols moral strength and mental control over our base natures. Thoreau’s arguments against not eating meat are not “moral,” but rather about a personal choice of feeli ng. He might crave meat, but grains fill him more. He might catch fish, but grains are less messy to prepare. He does not tell all people to stop eating meat. He instead asks us to watch the animals around us, to be part of this larger world, and then to eat with responsibility and awareness of life.

One of the more interesting aspects of Thoreau’s arguments is the constant struggle between the body and the mind. On one level, Thoreau seems to revel in the pleasures of the body: the sensation of soil beneath one’s toes and the observations of nature . However, there is a constant intellectual reflection to redeem these bodily forces, and he seems to urge us to use our minds rather than our bodies. This does not seem to have the purpose of separating us from other animals because most of Thoreau’s w riting either personifies animals or animalizes humans. Rather, it is for fully appreciating all the abilities that have been given to us. To truly live is to truly be aware of all that we can do, and then to use all parts of ourselves.

Thoreau personifies the ants, making their battle seem just as important as a battle in the human world. While a biologist might screech, “That’s not right! Ants do not feel any of these things,” this belies the deeper technique of Thoreau’s powers of ob servation. Each of his sensations has some sort of implication, reminds him of something else, or makes him think about the greater world. In living his life this way, Thoreau has a richness of experience and a joy in living that is unparalleled. When Thoreau lists the other ant-battles that have been recorded in literature, he is not only telling what this battle reminds him of. He is also placing himself in the larger stream of classical literature. In “The Pond in Winter,” Thoreau tells of how Wal den contains all the waters that the great rivers and lakes of the world contain. Thoreau begs us to read the classics, but he also is creating himself as a new classic, as a thinker in this long line of great thinkers of the world. He is not humble, bu t he is joyful. He attempts to make his sensations available to all, just as the writers of the Classics have done.

Walden – Spring & Conclusion

Summary

When the ice-cutters open the lake, they cause the ice to break up earlier than it would otherwise. The sun warms the ice. It also reflects off the bottom of the lake, warming the bottom of the ice and causing it to fill with bubbles and holes like a honeycomb. One reason Thoreau came to the woods was to watch this happen, to see spring arriving. The sand makes all sorts of patterns as the ice melts, the sap flows in the trees, and the buds begin to sprout. The birds come out chirping, the squirrel chatters, and the geese honk overhead. Spring, when the leaves unfurl, is the time of newness and life.

We need wilderness. We need to have fields and forests around villages. We need to see nature so full of life that there can be sacrifice and death. The trees put forth leaves and nature goes on. After two years, Thoreau’s sojourn in the woods ended on September 6, 1847. What does this teach us? Explore your own world, the streams where you live, your own intellect, and mind the seas and inlets of the moral mind. He writes:

It is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one’s being alone.

If you want to travel, explore yourself. Thoreau left the woods because he learned all he could there; his feet had worn a path from the door to the pond- side. As he writes:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Speak not so others can understand. Instead, speak without bounds. Do not go for the lowest common denominator, but reach for the highest.

Why should man be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

The truth alone wears well. Be where you are. Live your life: “It looks poorest when you’re richest.” Hours can be thrilling wherever you are. Do not search after new things. Truth means more than love, than money, than fame.

The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

Commentary

Oh listen to Thoreau! The final chapter summarizes much of what Walden says. It releases the reader, full of ideas. It is stunningly idealistic with its faith in the highest of humanity. It espouses the belief that if you expect the best from life, it will come. The most relevant part of this final chapter is the section that tells us to search inside ourselves. Wilderness may have mostly disappeared in this world. However, even if all the forests are explored, each person has the world inside him or her.

On a literary note, one of the most interesting portions of the book to analyze is the section where Thoreau discusses the letters within words. He examines how words are composed, reflecting their meaning. This is close reading at its extreme, the heart of New Criticism. Thoreau often discusses how one should read, but this is the first time that he pays equal attention to the words he uses as he pays to the pond or the birds chattering outside his window.

Speaking of birds, Thoreau loves onomatopoeia. After metaphorical writing, this is his most used literary technique. He scatters woo’s and chip, chip, chip’s throughout Walden. This technique, like lush visual descriptions, allows the reader to see what Thoreau sees and hear what he hears, thus placing the reader within the world of Walden. However, Thoreau again repeats his plea that his readers not follow in his footsteps. He fears already that people are going to go to Walden and attempt to live like he did. The book is simply an inspiration, meant to show people what is possible, to inspire them to find their own paths, and to walk to a different drummer, rather than all being alike.

The final sentences illuminate the theme of light present throughout the book. The inner light is like the inner awareness that Thoreau is attempting to reveal to the reader. “The sun is but a morning star.” This world of nature is but a means of inspiration for us to know ourselves. Throughout his book, Thoreau requests and requires self-knowledge, and the path that he took in Walden is just one way to reach that end.

Walden – Spring & Conclusion

Summary

When the ice-cutters open the lake, they cause the ice to break up earlier than it would otherwise. The sun warms the ice. It also reflects off the bottom of the lake, warming the bottom of the ice and causing it to fill with bubbles and holes like a honeycomb. One reason Thoreau came to the woods was to watch this happen, to see spring arriving. The sand makes all sorts of patterns as the ice melts, the sap flows in the trees, and the buds begin to sprout. The birds come out chirping, the squirrel chatters, and the geese honk overhead. Spring, when the leaves unfurl, is the time of newness and life.

We need wilderness. We need to have fields and forests around villages. We need to see nature so full of life that there can be sacrifice and death. The trees put forth leaves and nature goes on. After two years, Thoreau’s sojourn in the woods ended on September 6, 1847. What does this teach us? Explore your own world, the streams where you live, your own intellect, and mind the seas and inlets of the moral mind. He writes:

It is easier to sail many thousand miles through cold and storm and cannibals, in government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one, than it is to explore the private sea, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one’s being alone.

If you want to travel, explore yourself. Thoreau left the woods because he learned all he could there; his feet had worn a path from the door to the pond- side. As he writes:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

Speak not so others can understand. Instead, speak without bounds. Do not go for the lowest common denominator, but reach for the highest.

Why should man be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

The truth alone wears well. Be where you are. Live your life: “It looks poorest when you’re richest.” Hours can be thrilling wherever you are. Do not search after new things. Truth means more than love, than money, than fame.

The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.

Commentary

Oh listen to Thoreau! The final chapter summarizes much of what Walden says. It releases the reader, full of ideas. It is stunningly idealistic with its faith in the highest of humanity. It espouses the belief that if you expect the best from life, it will come. The most relevant part of this final chapter is the section that tells us to search inside ourselves. Wilderness may have mostly disappeared in this world. However, even if all the forests are explored, each person has the world inside him or her.

On a literary note, one of the most interesting portions of the book to analyze is the section where Thoreau discusses the letters within words. He examines how words are composed, reflecting their meaning. This is close reading at its extreme, the heart of New Criticism. Thoreau often discusses how one should read, but this is the first time that he pays equal attention to the words he uses as he pays to the pond or the birds chattering outside his window.

Speaking of birds, Thoreau loves onomatopoeia. After metaphorical writing, this is his most used literary technique. He scatters woo’s and chip, chip, chip’s throughout Walden. This technique, like lush visual descriptions, allows the reader to see what Thoreau sees and hear what he hears, thus placing the reader within the world of Walden. However, Thoreau again repeats his plea that his readers not follow in his footsteps. He fears already that people are going to go to Walden and attempt to live like he did. The book is simply an inspiration, meant to show people what is possible, to inspire them to find their own paths, and to walk to a different drummer, rather than all being alike.

The final sentences illuminate the theme of light present throughout the book. The inner light is like the inner awareness that Thoreau is attempting to reveal to the reader. “The sun is but a morning star.” This world of nature is but a means of inspiration for us to know ourselves. Throughout his book, Thoreau requests and requires self-knowledge, and the path that he took in Walden is just one way to reach that end.

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