Walden Chapter 6


3/25/04


English 11 H


Period 1


Chapter 6 of Walden by Henry David Thoreau, is titled Visitors and contains an entire section describing the innocence and ignorance of one of the visitors to Thoreau. This man was simple like Thoreau thought all men should be. He did not crowd his life with useless details, nor did he obsess over its superficialities. He takes life at face value and offers his own honest opinions about life, without pretending to be what he was not. While Thoreau respects this, he also criticizes the man for being too simple and devoid of any higher level intellectual thought. He described him as not awake, that is, he doesn’t use any of his poetic faculties as Aristotle defined them. Thoreau described him as “a child” (118), genuinely innocent and unsophisticated.


While Thoreau respects the woodsman for his simplicity and straightforward nature, he almost seems to scorn the man for his innocence and ignorance. Unlike Thoreau, I don’t think whether the man can use his poetic faculties really matters in life. Why do you need to be engaged in high level thought in order to live a fulfilling life? This man is always happy, purely because he is so simple and childlike. Innocence is a much undervalued commodity and not all innocence is ignorance as Thoreau would have you believe. I think that being happy is all that’s important, no matter how you achieve that state of bliss, whether it be from spiritual or physical means. The only thing that really matters is the end result and the means are extra details.