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Explain Thoreau's concluding message at the end of the Conclusion.

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parousia | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted November 2, 2011 at 8:39 PM via web

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Explain Thoreau's concluding message at the end of the Conclusion.

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 2, 2011 at 9:32 PM (Answer #1)

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Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.

As a transcendentalist writer, Thoreau was frustrated with the focus of his society on material things, temporary pleasures, and immediate concern for things he considered frivolous.  He was living in New England and wondering why life for Americans was looking so much like life did back in the England which they fled.

He was in search of a higher truth.  But rather than turn to religion, as those from history had done (and in his mind, failed), and rather than turn to science, he turned to nature, and then turned inwardly.  The conclusion of Walden is a simple summation what Thoreau believed to be truly important and an encouragement to his American readers to seek simple lives of gratitude over the desire for wealth and fame.

When he says, "The life in us is like the water in the river," he suggests that the power for change and the power for peace lies within each human, and nothing is gained by simply sitting around a dinner table and talking or complaining.  In his comparisons of America to England, it is clear that he is a patriotic man who believes that America can and should be an independent country, with its own sense of personality and power, and he urges his contemporaries not to look to the traditional methods for gaining this personality and power.

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