What I Lived For Summary
Joyce Carol Oates

Everything you need to understand or teach What I Lived For by Joyce Carol Oates.

  • What I Lived For Summary & Study Guide

What I Lived For Summary

Joyce Carol Oates takes the title of this novel from a chapter tide in Henry "David Thoreau's Walden (1854), "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For." Lurking behind Thoreau's description of his simple life that made him fully awake to the sustaining power of nature is his protest against the materialism and exploitation of nineteenth-century America.

He was not just escaping to Walden Pond but also escaping from a society that built mills and railroads and canals that worked laborers long hours in unhealthy and dangerous conditions so that the upper classes could wear fashionable clothing and spend their leisure time in travel through a United States that was clearcutting its timber, pushing Indian populations into its least hospitable land, expanding its borders into Mexican territory, and continuing to allow the institution of slavery. Thoreau has been criticized, both in his own day and...

(read more from the Short Guide)

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What I Lived For Short Guide

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