Bartleby is, quite simply, looking for a job when he goes to Wall Street. What Bartleby sees that the lawyer does not is a meaningless to life. While working in the dead letter office, Bartleby saw all elements of life come across his desk. Letters of business and love and family, letters that came from people invested in the world around them - but letters that have been forgotten and are to be burnt. What purpose is there to the action in life if it is to just end in flames, like these dead letters? Bartelby "prefers not to" do things because he sees little purpose in them - in work, in society, and eventually in food and life itself.