The Canadian Woodchopper
The woodchopper does his work in Walden Woods, and he and Thoreau often visit. He is a big, strong, good-natured man who works hard and is content with his life although he makes little money. He knows how to read and enjoys reading the works of Homer even though he doesn’t understand them. After getting to know the woodchopper, Thoreau concludes, ‘‘The intellectual and what is called spiritual man in him were slumbering as in an infant.’’
James Collins is an Irishman who works for the railroad and lives in a shanty near where Thoreau builds his cabin. Thoreau buys Collins’s shanty for $4.25 and disassembles it to use the boards and nails in his cabin. On the morning of the transfer of ownership, Thoreau sees Collins and his family on the road, with all their possessions wrapped up in one large bundle.
John Field is an Irishman who lives with his wife and children in a hut near the Baker Farm. During a rainstorm Thoreau goes to take shelter in the hut, which he thinks is vacant, but finds Field and his family there. Thoreau can see that John works very hard as a ‘‘bogger’’ (someone who turns the soil for farmers) to support his family and yet lives very poorly. Thoreau explains his own way of life, hoping that John will adopt it and thus live better while working less. He tells John if he would give up luxuries such as coffee and butter, he could give up his toil. He wouldn’t need to buy boots if he quit his job, Thoreau says, and he could easily catch fish in the pond and sell them for the little money he would need. John and his wife seem to consider this briefly but, according to Thoreau, they are unable to understand how they could live as Thoreau suggests. ‘‘It was sailing by dead reckoning to them, and they saw not clearly how to make their port,’’ he writes.
Brister Freeman was a former slave who lived on Brister’s Hill before Thoreau’s stay in the woods. He was an apple-grower. He is a character in the book because during the winter, when there are few visitors, Thoreau thinks about the woods’ former residents to occupy his mind. In effect, his past neighbors become present company. Thoreau reports that he has read Brister’s epitaph in the cemetery.
The wife of Brister Freeman, Fenda was a fortune teller.
The Hermit is one of...
(The entire section is 1020 words.)