Henry David Thoreau – Walden
1 In the middle of “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” Thoreau explains that he went to the woods to “live deliberately” and “to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life” (p. 967). What does Thoreau mean by this? How might a person “live what was not life”?
2. Summarize the paragraph that begins “Still we live meanly . . . .” Are the ideas in this paragraph applicable to contemporary life?
3. Explain this quote: “We do not ride upon the railroad; it rides upon us . . . . ” Give this some thought; you can get what Thoreau is saying.
4. Look at the paragraph that begins “Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature . . .” (p. 971). In your own words, paraphrase what is he asking us to do.
5. Compare and contrast Thoreau’s reason for going to the woods and his reason for leaving them (p. 990). Give lines from the text to support your answer.
6. In his conclusion, Thoreau again applies the lessons of his experiment to broader experiences. Look at the first paragraph of your assignment, what general lesson about conformity is to be drawn from the path he wore between his house and the pond? (p. 990)
7. In the next paragraph, Thoreau relates what he has learned about success. Summarize his definition of success.
8. The example on page 992 of the man who “hears a different drummer” is one of the most quoted passages from Walden. How does this passage support Thoreau’s earlier criticism of conformity?
9. The paragraph beginning “However mean your life is, meet it and live it” (top of 993) has many great ideas. What is the overall theme of this paragraph? What does he mean by “Sell your clothes; keep your thoughts”?
10. Look at the paragraph at the bottom of 995 that begins, “The life in us is like the water in the river.” This paragraph centers upon the rebirth that is possible once we have opened ourselves to nature and to our true inner being. Within this context, what is the “moral” of the story of the beautiful bug that hatched after being buried many years in an old wooden table?
11. In some respects, the final sentences of the passage sum up all of Walden. Thoreau reminds us that finding our “perfect summer life,” as the beautiful bug did, is not merely a matter of waiting. According to Thoreau, in what way may any of us prepare to experience spiritual awakening?