What are some single statements Thoreau uses in Walden that can apply to our own conditions?

Asked on by roxi48

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

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I think that one of the strongest statements Thoreau makes comes at the end of the narrative.  Consider his closing thought:

Be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.

The statement of becoming someone independent, on their own voyage throughout life is powerful and highly compelling.  It ensures that individuals take stock in what life is and live it for their own sakes, as opposed to conforming to something else external.  To this point, I feel that Thoreau's detailing of the battle of the ants in chapter 12 might help to illuminate this statement.  The manner in which he shows the battle of the ants between red and black is one where conformity reigns supreme.  It is shown to be a deadening force, one in which there is no life and no hopes of ensuring individuality.  The desire to "open new channels" is suppressed in this condition.  These statements feed one another to help Thoreau illuminate the idea that all individuals, then and now, can gain more out of being in terms of following their own path and their own understanding of what being should be.  It is here where Thoreau's statements speak lucidly to the modern setting.


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