For about the first half of the book Thoreau questions the lifestyles that people choose. He makes his readers wonder if they have chosen the kind of life that will really offer them happiness. Are they merely living a career or some other narrowly focused routine or is a worthwhile life being lived. Thoreau wonders if the truly valuable elements of life are being taken advantage of if a person isn't living simply. If a person is so caught up in working or never having enough then life, its wonders, and satisfaction are difficult to obtain. As he states in the beginning (pg4), "most men even in this comparatively free country, though mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that is finer fruits cannot be plucked by them." This to me means that people care more about the fine things in life and easier work instead of nature's gifts and hard work. Thoreau draws a parallel between others preoccupation wit! h money and his own enjoyment of non-monetary wealth. Thoreau's statement " A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone" means that rich refers to having the opportunity for spiritual and intellectual gains and afford refers to the self-actualization rather than to cash in the bank. Those are just some of the materialistic terms that Thoreau uses to refer to non-materialist values, making fun of the capitalist in the process. Thoreau uses the opportunity of the first chapter to discuss the issue of how we spend our time and energies. It is obvious that his townspeople are not as economical as they spend many hours working very hard to accomplish very little, showing a false sense of
. Thoreau believed that all attempts to redeem mankind from its problems were useless unless such attempts began with the person. The individual person had to stop thinking more about the lesson nature had to offer. Thoreau thought that by living simply with few needs or material possessions man would have more time to enjoy life to its fullest natural potential. In the other chapters of the book Thoreau goes on to tell about his experiences with nature while living on Walden Pond. The bean field which he grew, and put so much work into. He did not know himself what the meaning was of planting the garden only that he felt self-respect from doing so. They "attached him to the earth." And he got strength from it. He told of the villagers and how he spent his days with them chatting till everyone was gone or just listening to the gossip whether it came from people or the newspapers, in which he thought was refreshing in its own way. When he had "worn out all his village friends", he would go for walks in unfamiliar woods and new pastures and eventually end up back at the cabin in his home of solitude. He liked to take hold on life and spend the day more as the animals do. Thoreau loved the wild not less than the good. He believed that there was a period in the history of the individual when the hunters were the best men. A boy who has never fired a gun is no more inhumane but his education has been sadly neglected. The young mans introduction to the forest is the most original part of himself. He first goes as a hunter and fisher until he has the knowledge of nature and leaves the gun and the pole behind. Thoreau believes that hunting is a stage of man's development. According to Thoreau every man is the lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a pretty state, a hummock left by the ice. Yet some can be patriotic who have no self- respect. They love the soil, which makes their graves, but have no sympathy with the spirit of the soil. Thoreau left the woods for the same reason that he went there which to me is because he had more to do in life and more dreams to fill, and did not want to waste anymore time on Walden pond when there was so much more to do elsewhere. He learned that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, then he will endeavor to live the life that he has imagined.