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How does Thoreau express the theme of self- reliance in Walden?

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katie-ross | eNoter

Posted December 10, 2011 at 8:22 AM via web

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How does Thoreau express the theme of self- reliance in Walden?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 10, 2011 at 8:47 AM (Answer #1)

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Thoreau's idea of self- reliance can be seen in the stress on non- conformity.  Thoreau stresses the notion that there can be a transcendent conception of the good found in solitude.  The mere idea of existing in a solitude, apart from the societal vision of the good, is something that forces self- reliance.  Thoreau forces the reader to consider the idea that being apart from society requires a form of self- reliance, or independence of thought.  For Thoreau, society is something of a corrupting influence.  The need to conform silences the essence of the individual, something that Thoreau believes can be reclaimed in the realm of solitude.    In this solitude, Thoreau finds the purest form of companionship in the realm of nature.  The line that Thoreau uses of the "littlest pine needle" being his companion is something that Thoreau suggests helps to foster the theme of self- reliance.  Thoreau argues that this driving force to separate oneself from society into a realm of solitude is something that emphasizes reliance on oneself and a sense of independent thinking that is apart from the conformity of society.

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