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How does this passage from Walden relate to the experiences that Thoreau describes...

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kristenmarieb... | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted January 29, 2013 at 2:53 AM via web

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How does this passage from Walden relate to the experiences that Thoreau describes in the excerpt from which it is taken: 

"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 far away."  

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 29, 2013 at 5:26 AM (Answer #1)

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As a Transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau believed strongly in the value of individualism.  Alone, he went into the woods "to front the essential facts of life" and to learn what he could from life by discovering facts on his own.  In his conclusion of Walden, Thoreau states that he left the woods for the same reason that he had gone into this woods.  For, he had begun to be immersed in mindless routine, and he had begun to lose his individuality.

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 far away.

Before stating this, Thoreau contends that if a person confidently pursues his dreams and lives the life he desires, he will meet with success and fulfillment. He uses the example of the man who strove to create a perfect staff. Because he did not worry about time, his work was perfect.

Further, Thoreau challenges conformity in worrying about money which "is not required to buy one necessary of the soul." Truth is of a much greater value, he states. Here Thoreau echoes the words of Patrick Henry, which became a slogan in the American Revolution, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" This echoing increases the intensity of the tone of Thoreau's conclusion, a conclusion in which he urges people to live life in a different manner, to march "to a different drummer" and to "step to the music he hears"--to be a non-conformist and a strong individual.

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