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Why does Thoreau compare soldiers with wood, earth, and stones?

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kaceyleanne | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 12, 2010 at 8:31 AM via web

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Why does Thoreau compare soldiers with wood, earth, and stones?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 12, 2010 at 8:34 AM (Answer #1)

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Thoreau says that soldiers are on the same level as wood, earth, and stones because they blindly do what the government tells them to do.  When they do that (rather than paying attention to their own consciences) they are no longer like people.

To the transcendentalists, it was very important for people to follow their own thoughts and their own consciences.  For example, Emerson (who was a transcendentalist like Thoreau) said that "whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist."  Thoreau is saying the same thing here.  He is saying that anyone who just blindly conforms and does what he is told is no longer a man.

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