What job did Thoreau agreed to do for Emerson in The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With the failure of Thoreau's school founded with his brother, Thoreau was in need of finding something to essentially do.  In this void, Emerson was able to hire Thoreau as a tutor for his son.  Given how Emerson was constantly travelling and absent, Thoreau served as an intellectual mentor for Emerson's son.  In this, Thoreau was able to serve as an important inspiration in the boy's life and his training.  Thoreau agreed to do this for Emerson.  He refuses to accept money for this.  In place, he asks to use Emerson's cabin in the woods, which ends up serving as the basis for Thoreau's musings about Walden.  Accordingly, Thoreau agrees to serve as a source of intellectual thought and understanding for Emerson's son and does not ask anything in material terms from Emerson in the process.  It is an example of how Thoreau believes in his own philosophy and is willing to live such an idea, as opposed to Emerson who ends up being more inclined to speak about philosophical musings and do little in practice of it.


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