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Describe the few pleasant social contacts in Walden which Thoreau experienced, while...

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roxi48 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted August 22, 2012 at 10:27 AM via web

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Describe the few pleasant social contacts in Walden which Thoreau experienced, while living at Walden and explain why Thoreau valued them.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 22, 2012 at 4:02 PM (Answer #1)

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In the "Visitors" chapter in Walden, Thoreau talks about a Canadian woodcutter and post-maker. "A more simple and natural man it would be hard to find" (131). Thoreau admires the man for living a simple life in nature and this woodcutter has also heard of Homer but did not have the mind to "write thoughts." When Thoreau would approach the woodcutter, he would cease his work and his "mirth was without alloy" (132). Thoreau admired this man's youthful exuberance but found him intellectually lacking. 

Thoreau also found some from the almshouse (poorhouse) who were "wiser than the so-called overseers" (137). In this chapter, Thoreau also describes a pauper who wishes to live as he does. The pauper also admits he is "weak in the head." Thoreau enjoys the company of visitors (and he goes to town from time to time but only briefly because the town discourse is mostly gossip.) 

Thoreau also speaks of runaway slave visitors as well as men, women, and children who claim to embrace the solitude of nature: some genuine, some not. 

In "Baker Farm," Thoreau describes John Field, his wife, and children. He tries to explain to John the benefits of living a life of deliberation, naturalness, simplicity. He admires John's work ethic but feels that John is too obsessed with work and production. He feels sorry for John and Thoreau ends feeling grateful himself that he is able to see the benefits of work but also the benefits of leisure time to think, read, and explore. 

Thoreau's experience with his visitors is of general camaraderie. When he tries to explain his purposeful living, he realizes that most prefer their own way. Not to be discouraged, Thoreau consistently reaffirms his purpose and he implores the reader, in the last chapter, to "be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you" (286). In this conclusion, Thoreau treats the reader like one of his visitors. 

 

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