Concord Rebel Critical Essays

August Derleth


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Unlike many of the rather stuffy and sententious figures in early American history and literature, Thoreau is popular with young readers. There are several reasons for this popularity, one of which was his unconventional approach to the problem of making a living. The flexibility that modern society requires is the same quality that Thoreau always exemplified in his own career as a teacher, manufacturer, surveyor, scholar, philosopher, poet, and natural scientist. Young people who are faced with parental and social pressures to fit into careers that may not be compatible with their tastes and temperaments will welcome Thoreau’s advice and example. Another reason for Thoreau’s popularity with the young is his famous doctrine of passive resistance to evil. The use of nonviolence by such figures as Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Civil Rights movement and by Mahatma Gandhi in India demonstrated its effectiveness. A third, and probably the most important, reason for Thoreau’s popularity with the young is his love of nature. Thoreau admired Native Americans, who were displaced by European immigrants. Europeans wanted to exploit the new land by forcing it to give up its natural treasures; the native inhabitants believed that humanity should revere nature and seek to live in harmony with its laws.

Concord Rebel is attractive to young adults because Derleth wrote it like an ad-venture story. The story begins with Thoreau as a young man with a...

(The entire section is 562 words.)