Walden: Chapter 2


3/20/04


English 11 H


Period 1


This selection form Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, focuses mainly on living life as simply as possible. Thoreau explains that one of the main reasons he went to live by Walden Pond was because he wished “to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life” (72). Thoreau believes that by living simply, he will be able to live and enjoy life to the fullest, taking in each and every experience. By cutting life down to its core necessities he will not be clouded and distracted by superfluous matters. He doesn’t want these unessential matters to take up so much of his time and energy that he has none to actually enjoy life and enjoy his existence. Thoreau fears that when he is in old age and he reflects back upon his life, he will “discover that [he] had not lived” (72).


I think that Thoreau’s idea for living a simple life is good, but I also believe that it probably wouldn’t work in modern America. Our lives are so hectic that there is no possible way for people to find 3 months, let alone 5 years to live life simply in isolation. Also, most people enjoy material goods and would be very reluctant to part with them. Material goods provide people with a readily available source of satisfaction that doesn’t require any emotional work. Finally social pressure would probably prevent most people from following Thoreau’s lifestyle of simplicity. Because they don’t follow the mainstream, they’d be labeled as insane or dangerous and probably alienate most of their friends. Thus although I think the idea of living simply is excellent, it’s also very unrealistic.