Walden: Living in the Woods

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Walden was not just a single event of the survival of living in the woods but more of a life of man vs nature. Early in the summer of 1845, Henry David Thoreau leaves his family home in the village of Concord, Massachusetts, to live for a few years by himself in a rude house that he had constructed beside Walden Pond. Henry wanted to get away from society and live deliberately. He also was not happy about the massive taxes the United Kingdom was giving citizens and as well he was quite an invert.

Once reaching the small thrashed cabin, he writes in his journal about many of the things he did and thought. Henry was not the owner of the land on which he settled, but he receives permission to build his house by the government of Massachusetts. His objective was really to live simply and think and write. He proved to himself that the necessities of food, clothing, shelter, and fuel could be fairly easy to obtain. As early as March 1845, Thoreau went out to Walden Pond and cut the timber he needed for the framework of his house; doing all the labor himself.

Once he had the framing in place, Thoreau bought a furnace and bed from an Irish worker in town. He then filled the cabin with many items including a, stove, sink, outhouse, bed, candles, shotgun, knifes, hunting rifle, and many other tools. By July 1845, the house was ready to be occupied. Before the advent of the cold season the following fall, Thoreau built himself a fireplace and a chimney for cooking and heating purposes. He also plasters the interior of the one-room house and adds many furs to the floor and walls so that it can be warm and comfortable during the cold New England winter.

During the winter months, Thoreau continued to live comfortably at Walden Pond, even though his activities changed. He spent more time at the pond itself, making a underwater map of the pond. He studied the ice conditions and observing the animal life that centered on the pond. After two years of life at Walden, Thoreau left his house there. He felt no regret for having stayed, or for leaving; his attitude was that he had many lives to live and that he had finished with living at the pond. He had learned many lessons, while having time to think and study. He said, “Living can be extremely simple and yet highly fulfilling to the individual.” Later in the harsh winter, he left behind his cabin to seek help from a few friends.

He knew he needed help because of the brutality of the winter and that getting food and supplies would be much harder. When reaching own, he solicited assistance from some of his friends. Only two of his friends, Ralph and Lidian Emerson agreed to join him to expand his cabin into a lodge. With his friends help, they turned Henry’s cabin into a large two-story lodge. Henry was now able to live comfortably in the woods with all that he needed to sustain his simple lifestyle in nature. He lived out the rest of days at Walden Pond in a state of peace and solitude.

Key Players

  1. Henry Thoreau: intelligent, resourceful, persuasive, visionary
  2. John Smith: kind, convincing, smart, obstinate,
  3. Alex Therien: rebellious, neglectful, respectful, creative
  4. Ralph Waldo Emerson: loving, radical, nice, deceptive
  5. Lidian Emerson: sweet, compassionate, genius, renowned

Discussion Questions

  1. Why does Henry David Thoreau say he wants to live deliberately but then gets supplies from his small town every once and a while. Does he need help to live in the woods alone or was that his plan from the beginning?
  2. Why does Henry’s friends decide to leave him and go back to Massachusetts after a few months in the woods?
  3. When Henry buys goods from town he is never charged taxes for his items. Is this because the shop keeper wants to help Henry succeed in his goal?

Turning Point

In the Woods at Walden Pond, Henry is forced out of his home by the brutal winter which became too harsh for him to deal with by himself. He heads back towards civilization to ask some of his friends for help. However, after confronting three of Henry’s friends Ralph, Lidian, and John only two of them agree to help him; Ralph and Lidian Emerson. John was unable to assist Henry being involved in a United Kingdom war conflict. Ralph however agrees to assist Henry as long as he can use some of the lodge for his wife and newborn son. Henry consents to this agreement and the three hike into the woods. With his two friends, Henry returns to his cabin with plans to expand and improve his home into a full running lodge.

Turning Point Explanation

Walden Pond was frozen during the winter and the weather was so brutal that Henry David Thoreau was noticing the snow was taking a toll on his body as he got older. He knew that he would eventually need more help over the years to keep his lodge in working order. Being stubborn he didn’t want help from the society. Although he thought that if he had more people helping him, he could finish his challenge of living in the woods without any modern-day technology easier and faster. As a result of his friend’s generous help, after many months, Henry has a well-equipped lodge in the middle of the peaceful woods. This lodge has a first and second story, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, stove, and fireplace.

Not only that but Henry had installed a workshop, toilet, rinse room, attic, and created a basement. This home was also furnished with many diverse warm animal furs; as well as plaster on the wall corners which kept out the breeze and the winter snow. His friends helped Henry finish his lodge by the end of the winter. After the completion of the lodge, Henry remained in the woods and lived the rest of his life at Walden Pond.

Cite this paper

Walden: Living in the Woods. (2021, Dec 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/walden-living-in-the-woods/

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