Walden Questions and Answers
by Henry David Thoreau

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What is the main theme(s) of Walden?

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think the theme, or main claim, of Henry David Thoreau's book Walden can be best summed up by his sentence "Simplify, simplify." If we live simply, then we will live truly, according to Thoreau. If our home is simple—only as big as we need and containing only the necessary furnishings (a bed, a desk, a chair)—then we will be happier for it. If I buy a huge house, then I will have to work more to pay for it, to maintain it, to furnish it, to heat and cool it, and so forth. So I will spend all my time working to maintain a home that I am rarely in! However, if I buy a small home, and only the necessary things to fill it, I can work less and spend more of my time doing the things that make me truly happy: reading, hiking, swimming, sleeping, and so on.

Further, one does not need a ton of clothes. One suit, for Thoreau, was enough. He could patch it and fix it, and if people judged him for it, who cares? Clothes are there to serve a purpose: to protect our skin and keep us warm. Again, if I...

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