Notes on Walden Themes

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Walden Topic Tracking: Water

Where I Lived

Water 1: He says that water protects against the "insularity" of the earth, and reminds us that the earth is not entirely solid. In the morning he bathes in the pond. He says this wakes him up, which is the most important thing to do.

Solitude

Water 2: In the next few paragraphs, Thoreau takes a systemic view on the bad weather that he faces. Rain is good somewhere, for something, even if it causes floods near him, and forces him to stop working for days at a time. He is so sympathetic partially because he finds such a good society in nature. Also, he finds the pelting rain, wind, thunder, and lightening very dramatic and beautiful.

Visitors

Water 3: Nosy visitors disguised their curiosity by asking for a drink of water. Thoreau always directed them to drink from the pond.

The Ponds

Water 4: All the Concord ponds, including Walden, look like they have two colors: a far away color and a close up color. These are usually, respectively, blue and green, but the ponds can also be slate on stormy days when they reflect the stormy sky. The ponds might be these colors, Thoreau surmises, because they reflect the color of the sand, the sky, the green of the surrounding hills, or some combination of both. What is most interesting to Thoreau is that a tiny spoonful of the pond water will be clear, when at the same time it appears colored when you look at the pond.

Water 5: When water is quiet it is as glass. The fish and bugs make concentric circles on its surface that are beautiful. Water is the intermediate form between earth and sky. Unlike the earth, it is affected by the wind and ripples with it. And, we can look down upon it and examine it. Thoreau imagines having that opportunity with the air one day, but for now he can observe the water. When the water reflects the clouds, Thoreau imagines that he's floating through the air - and the fish look like they're hovering in air.

Water 6: Thoreau mentions how Walden Pond appears as if it was shaped by some great hand, since its beauty seems so deliberate.

Higher Laws

Water 7: Water is the only suitable drink for people. Even music is dangerous. Get drunk on the air instead of on wine.

House-Warming

Water 8: With the first freeze came the first bit of ice on the pond. The first ice is perfect and clear. You can lie on this new ice before it will support your weight standing. There are millions of tiny bubbles in this new ice that look like a string of beads. Thoreau threw some stones that broke through and made big white bubbles. With an Indian summer (a late warm spell), the ice lost its beauty. The white bubbles from the stones burst against the new lower layer of ice.

Conclusion

Water 9: Water has changed the landscape around us dramatically, and may do so again.

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