Notes on Walden Themes

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Walden Topic Tracking: Awakening for Reform

Where I Lived

Awakening for Reform 1: By waking up fully in the morning, a person is able to undertake moral reform during the day. Once a person has thrown off sleep, including moral slumber, they can think clearly about moral imperatives.


Awakening for Reform 2: He says that a businessman who is dead to his experiences will not know to wake up in a place like Walden. At Walden the things of central importance are our immediate surroundings and the workman next to us, whose work, he says, define who we are.

Higher Laws

Awakening for Reform 3: Thoreau realizes that the governor and his council once fished at Walden Pond, and now all they do is make rules and regulations regarding fishing at the pond.

The Pond in Winter

Awakening for Reform 4: Thoreau begins this chapter awaking with a question put to him in the night, which was answered when he awoke again at dawn. The beauty of the light and his surroundings answers all his questions. After finding this answer, he turns to the morning work: finding water beneath a foot and a half of ice. The pond sleeps all winter like the animals, and when Thoreau cuts through the snow and ice to find the pond totally calm beneath, he finds heaven below as well as above.


Awakening for Reform 5: One day, all of Walden seemed bathed in a light so pure nothing could remain sleeping and even the dead should have woken.


Awakening for Reform 6: Thoreau talks about how it took him a week to wear a path from the door of his cabin to the pond, and even five or six years later the path remains. This is also true of the paths in men's minds. Once traveled, a path stays open for a long while.

Awaking for Reform 7: Common sense is dull, and is like men snoring and sleeping.

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