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Thursday, April 5, 2012

MLA documentation of my book!

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1971.  Print.

Why did I choose this book? I don't even know anymore. Err, I mean...

             Upon hearing the summary, Walden seemed like a book I could relate to. I've always wanted to spend time in solidarity, for self awareness purposes and all. Also, every other book I wanted to read was fiction. So it was also sort of a last resort and I ran with it.

What was the purpose?

             Walden was to describe Thoreau's life philosophies, and encourage readers to apply them to their own daily lives. Basically, the whole novel was a narration of Thoreau's experiences and the wisdom he gained from them. He wouldn't lay them all out if he didn't find them of value. And not just in his own life, but in mankind as a whole.

What kind of person do you think the author is?

                 Honestly, I think Thoreau is a bit crazy. He has a reputation for great works, but after finally reading one, I think Thoreau is more glorified than actually living up to his name. He walks the line of praiseworthy literature and shortcomings, blurring the line in between. This then cause many to, understandably, worship unworthy pieces with a gilded cover. Maybe it's just me, but I can't see what makes this guy so special. He also seems like a big jerk.
               At one time, he meets an Irish family in a shed. He criticizes their economic situation, and eventually gives up hope on them. At least that's how it seems. It was almost hypocritical, how he spent all this time preaching hope and optimism, only to go against himself in this scene. It may have been misinterpretation, but regardless.
              Also, Thoreau's craziness shows through with his constant lessons and morals he finds. The ants are a life lesson. The depth of the pond is a life lesson. The colors of the trees are a life lesson. Maybe it's a part of transcendentalism. Maybe Thoreau truly feels that way. Or maybe he's just crazy. 

Explain the mood of the book and support it with quotes.

             Thoreau most often creates a philosophical and even whimsical mood. To him, nearly everything holds a lesson to be learned, and that progress is an illusion. In fact, life is an illusion. For example, "the Universe is wider than our views of it,” (Thoreau). Thoreau refutes the idea that 'the cure to sickness is a change of scenery' with the true cure is a change of soul.
             In addition, "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," (Thoreau). This implies philosophical ideas, extending into a level further then presented on the front. Thoreau isn't just at Walden to learn about himself. He represents universal ideas, that anyone can hold. 
             Lastly, Thoreau's mood shines through when he is constantly questioning the meaning of life, what it is to live, and what he lives for. "I went to the wood because I wished to live deliberately, to front the essential facts of life, and see if i could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived," (Thoreau). This is the main point of the book. Why are we here? What is living? How can I really live? How does one avoid dying without ever experiencing living? The mentioned quote implies all of these questions, going deep down to the core of life. 
            

Which element is most important to the story?

             The main character, Thoreau, is most important to Walden's significance. After all, the main point of the book is about the life lessons he learned throughout his time. It doesn't particularly matter where he was, how he learned them, or when it happened. All that matters is Thoreau's point of view and wisdom gained. Any other character would've had a completely different outcome, maybe even jeopardizing the success of such a story.

Discuss three major incidents.

           Thoreau takes a trip into town for some supplies and gets arrested and held for the night for refusing to pay a poll tax. Despite this disturbance, Thoreau isn’t really fazed. He still finds no need to use basic safety precautions like locking his doors. The incident only makes him more aware of the fact that only the government is a threat to him, and even then he doesn’t have much to lose.
          Another time, Thoreau is marveling about Walden Pond. Nothing outright spectacular happens, but the significance still remains. Thoreau considers the origins of the Pond and all the hidden beauty that comes with it. Animals gather around, the weather agrees, and all is peaceful. The atmosphere gives off pure serenity, and it’s a major personal moment for Thoreau. It’s almost as if he becomes one with the Pond, with nature, and with himself at that very moment.
            Lastly, Thoreau sits alone during a cold winter night reminiscing about previous owners of the Walden land and experiences he had with them, feeling sympathy toward their harsh losses. This event reaches one of many themes of the book: how universal and connected the world really is. It didn’t matter who owned the land previously or how they used it. It impacted every single person down the road in that situation. They all shared the same piece of land, as many did before and many will in the future. It also demonstrates how insignificant individuals really are to the greater world, bringing out feelings of humility, and concern for one’s true place in the world.