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Walden Summary


Here you will find a Walden summary (Henry David Thoreau's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

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Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Walden Summary Overview

The story begins with the protagonist having spent two years in solitude near a pond in Massachusetts, living a bare life without anyone's assistance. He reveals that he is now back from his hermit experience, living among others. The initial chapter, titled "Economy," provides insights into social thinking and household management along with the protagonist's ideals about his pond project. He acknowledges the skepticism expressed by the locals about his project and defends himself against their perception that living in society is the only way to live. He shares the reasons for his move to the pond and gives a comprehensive account of building his humble home. He also details his survival methods during his wilderness experiment. This chapter is a blend of facts, figures, and practical advice, and presents a comparison between individualism and social existence. The protagonist tells us that he finished building his house in the Spring of 1845 and moved in on Independence Day. He borrowed or scavenged most of the tools and materials used for construction from previous sites. He resides on a land owned by his friend and details the cost-analysis of the entire construction project. To earn money, he cultivates a small bean-field which occupies his mornings. His afternoons and evenings are reserved for contemplation, reading, and walking around the countryside. He frequently emphasizes his minimalist lifestyle and the satisfaction derived from it. Despite his solitude, he is aware of the society around him. The railroad near his dwelling interrupts his musings and prompts him to think about the power of technology. He converses with various people ranging from farmers, railroad workers, to occasional visitors. On a trip into town, he lands in jail for refusing to pay a tax as he believes the government supports slavery. He is released the next day and returns to his solitude. The protagonist gives significant attention to nature, shifting seasons, and the animals he shares the woods with. He observes and describes the habits of various animals, attributing philosophical and moral significance to each, as if they were lessons to learn from. As winter approaches, he prepares for the cold by observing the animals gathering food and welcoming the pests infesting his cabin as they escape the coming frosts. He fortifies his walls against the wind. During the day, he studies the snow and ice, giving special attention to the blue ice of the pond, and at night listens to the whipping wind. He sees ice-fishermen cutting out large blocks of ice to be sent off to cities, and ponders how most of the ice will eventually melt and return to the pond. The story ends with the protagonist declaring the end of his pond project and his return to a civilized life, encouraging us to live fully and meet life head-on.


Thoreau details his two-year project at Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts, owned by his spiritual guide, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He lived there for two years and two months before returning to society, admitting it was only an experiment in simple living. He noted reactions to his decision to live in the wilderness, from concerns over his health and isolation to occasional envy. The purpose of his project was to show the advantages of a simple lifestyle. According to Thoreau, the desire for material possessions leads to excessive labor and spiritual oppression due to worry and restriction. People's need for ownership binds them to constant labor, sacrificing their inner freedom. He claims farmers are as bound to their farms as prisoners are to their cells. Overworking for more than basic needs enslaves people. Thoreau maintains the best option is to reduce one's needs. He identifies four essential needs: food, shelter, clothing, and fuel. Accepting these basic gifts from nature allows one to live off the land with minimal effort. Pursuing luxury often hinders personal development. The construction of his modest house demonstrated his belief in simplicity and self-reliance. Thoreau borrowed an axe for tree felling, which he later returned sharper. He received some supplies and purchased others, working steadily through spring. He moved in on July 4, 1845, declaring his independence from societal norms. He kept detailed accounts of his construction and farming expenses, noting a profit of nearly nine dollars after farming expenses of fifteen dollars. His diet consisted of beans, corn, peas, and potatoes. His eight-month expense at Walden was about sixty-two dollars, offset by nearly thirty-seven dollars in earnings, resulting in a net cost of just over twenty-five dollars. Thoreau saw this as a fair trade for a home and the freedom to live as he wished.

where i lived and what i lived for

Thoreau reflects on the various locations he considered for settling, all grand estates, before choosing Walden Pond. He references a warning from the Roman philosopher Cato about the caution necessary when buying a farm. Thoreau was initially drawn to the nearby Hollowell farm, despite its need for several improvements. However, the owner's wife changed her mind, deciding to keep the farm before the deed was drafted. Thoreau forfeited his claim to the land. Although he initially intended to cultivate a large farm, he recognizes that this twist of fate may have been beneficial. Compelled to simplify his life, he decided it was best to "live free and uncommitted." Thoreau begins living in the woods, visualizing a life devoid of obligations and abundant in leisure. He revels in his distance from the post office and the social obligations it symbolizes. Paradoxically, this abdication of legal property rights grants him a different kind of ownership, summarized by a poetic phrase, "I am monarch of all I survey." Thoreau's pleasure in his new building endeavor at Walden is not just the satisfaction of a new homeowner; instead, it embodies a philosophical victory, a symbol of his triumph over existence. His move into his new home on Independence Day instills a sense of divine pride, despite the house still lacking a chimney and plaster. He suggests that a godly paradise is universally accessible, "Olympus is but the outside of the earth every where." Thoreau optimistically views his poorly insulated walls as providing a summer night's fresh air to his interiors. He justifies its modest design, proposing it's better to create an atmosphere reflective of one's thoughts and feelings. He sees his home as a nearly ethereal entity, "as far off as many a region viewed nightly by astronomers." He'd rather reside here, in his humble wooden chair, than in any remote corner of the cosmos, "behind the constellation of Cassiopeia’s Chair." Free from the constraints of time and matter, he likens time to a river where he fishes at his leisure. Thoreau concludes with a moralistic tone, encouraging everyone to wade through life until reaching a point of understanding and assessing truth with what he refers to as our "Realometer," our tool for discerning reality.


The joy of reading is a privilege Thoreau indulges in, after leaving behind a high-paying job and huge mortgage. Drawing on ancient Egyptian or Hindu philosophies, he likens reading to "raising the veil from the statue of divinity." It's unclear whether he's being sarcastic about such grand perceptions about books, but it's clear that reading is among his favorite activities in his lone time in the woods, particularly after finishing his building work. Throughout the hectic days of constructing his home, he mentions keeping Homer's The Iliad on his table all summer, only occasionally glancing at it. However, his relocation not just to his self-built cabin, but into the realm of reality outlined in the previous chapter, has given reading a new significance. Thoreau appreciates the ability to read ancient classics in their original Greek and Latin languages, dismissing the translations available from the "modern cheap" press. He strongly maintains that Homer's work has never been properly published in English, in a manner that truly honors Homer’s accomplishment. Thoreau parallels the effort in reading with that of farming and owning a house, comparing an accomplished reader to an athlete who undergoes prolonged training and consistent practice. He attributes a near-mystical significance to written words. He values the impact of a written book more than the grandeur of oratory. He justifies Alexander the Great carrying The Iliad during his military campaigns. Thoreau encourages broad reading, subtly mocking those who only read the Bible, and urges reading great things instead of popular entertainment books found in libraries. He progressively expands his critique of low-quality reading to lambasting the prevailing culture of Concord, which denies even the local intellectually gifted individuals from exposure to great ideas. Despite society's progress in technology and transportation, Thoreau believes true progress—the growth of the mind and soul—is being overlooked. He criticizes his fellow townsfolk for believing that only the ancient Hebrews had a Holy Scripture, discounting other sacred writings like those of the Hindus. Thoreau disapproves of the town spending more on physical health than mental wellbeing and advocates for increased public education funding. He argues, “New England can hire all the wise men in the world to come and teach her, and board them round the while, and not be provincial at all.” He indirectly faults the local social hierarchy for promoting good breeding among the elite while ignoring the task of elevating the general population. He thus advocates for a noble democracy: "[i]nstead of noblemen, let us have noble villages of men.”


Stepping away from the scholarly tone of the previous section, Thoreau emphasizes the importance of being keenly aware of life, warning against getting lost in ancient poetry. "Will you be a reader, a student merely, or a seer?" he poses, implying that we should seek understanding beyond books, observing and truly "seeing" in our everyday lives. Rather than grand concepts, Thoreau speaks of simple pleasures, like sitting idly in the sunshine, and shares his experiences of listening to a sparrow's song and observing various plants. His peacefulness is disrupted by the "scream" of the nearby Fitchburg Railroad, leading his thoughts towards the world of commerce. While he admires the industrious spirit of tradespeople, even dubbing it "bravery," he expresses concern that an intense focus on business could sacrifice the nation's wit and contemplation. On Sundays, Thoreau hears church bells, and at night, the mournful hoots of owls—'midnight hags'—whose cries he perceives as "Oh-o-o-o that I never had been bor-r-r-r-n!" He appreciates the existence of these creatures, as they articulate the "unsatisfied thoughts which all have" through their "idiotic and maniacal hooting." Although he does not possess any farm animals, Thoreau observes that his dwelling is filled with the sounds of wildlife. He concludes by stating that nature is gradually encroaching, making its presence known right up to his windowsill.


Thoreau recounts an enjoyable night where he feels intertwined with nature, "a part of herself." Despite the cool, breezy weather, the ambience created by the bullfrogs and nocturnal creatures is captivating. Upon returning home, he discovers gifts left by visitors. Yet, he mentions experiencing intense solitude even when his nearest neighbor is merely a mile away - a feeling as if he's in a far-off place like Asia or Africa. Interestingly, he feels companionable in his solitude due to the "sweet and beneficent society in Nature," rendering human interactions trivial. His solitude doesn't imply he's forsaking social interaction, instead he's trading the trivial human company for the superior companionship of nature. Thoreau notes that one can feel lonely even amidst people if their heart isn't open to them. He expresses satisfaction in evading town gossips, preferring the company of a nearby elderly settler who shares mystical tales of "old time and new eternity," and an old woman with memories predating mythology. It's ambiguous whether these characters are real or figments of his imagination. Thoreau reiterates his joy in nature and his deep connection with it, asserting that the only remedy he needs is a gulp of morning air.


Thoreau acknowledges his enjoyment of company, keeping three chairs available for guests. However, he remains mindful of his home's small size, noting that both people and nations require "suitable broad and natural boundaries." He often shifts the social interaction to the nearby pine forest. His hosting style is unconventional, focusing less on feeding his guests and more on nurturing their spirit. He confidently claims that he can spiritually feed a thousand as easily as twenty, and if they leave hungry, at least they leave with his empathy. Despite the lack of material comforts, Thoreau's visitors continue to appear. He encounters more company than when he lived in the city, and the quality of his interactions has noticeably increased. His isolation filters out visitors who seek him for trivial reasons. Those who make the significant journey to see him are genuinely interested in his company. He also meets various wanderers and travelers, often finding admirable qualities in these rough individuals and considering them pleasant and respectful guests. Thoreau, however, doesn't entertain beggars, stating that "objects of charity are not guests." He enjoys the company of children on berry-picking trips and, being a fervent abolitionist, secretly aids runaway slaves through the Underground Railway. Several locals also visit Thoreau, including a French Canadian woodsman named Alex Therien, according to scholars. Despite Therien being illiterate, Thoreau respects his physical stamina, self-entertainment skills, and occasional bits of unique wisdom. Thoreau even equates Therien's depth of mind with the depth of Walden Pond, which may seem "dark and muddy," but is actually "bottomless." Lastly, Thoreau observes that women and children appreciate the woods more than men. He comments that businessmen and farmers tend to focus on the drawbacks of rural life, like the distance from town, instead of its joys. He believes that these individuals are overly consumed with "getting a living," and lack the time to truly live.

the bean field

Thoreau invests his summer tending to around two and a half acres of beans alongside modest plantings of potatoes, turnips, and peas. Working barefoot, he arranges his garden, frequently stopping to watch the surrounding wildlife. Daily, he tends to his beans, acclimating to the rhythms of farm life. Rain benefits his crops, yet woodchucks devastate a major part of it. Discovering that his bean field’s soil is depleted, Thoreau surmises that “an extinct nation had anciently dwelt here and planted corn and beans ere white men came to clear the land, and so, to some extent, had exhausted the soil for this very crop.” He uncovers relics of this past civilization, such as arrowheads, pottery shards, and other artifacts, while digging amongst the “ashes of unchronicled nations.” Thoreau revels in his environment's “inexhaustible entertainment,” pausing frequently from working his hoe to absorb the natural beauty. Nonetheless, he often hears military drills from the nearby town reverberating across the bean-field. These sounds instill confidence in Thoreau, reassuring him that his freedoms would be protected should a conflict arise. He humorously muses, “I felt as if I could spit a Mexican with a good relish … and looked around for a woodchuck or a skunk to exercise my chivalry upon.” Despite this, in his country hideaway, he feels war is a distant concern. Thoreau's total expenditure on his crops falls under fifteen dollars, while his earnings amount to around twenty-four, thus securing a profit close to nine dollars. Not a big fan of beans, he trades most of his harvest for rice, reserving the turnips and peas for his own use. He offers some farming advice, including using fertile soil, guarding against pests, and harvesting early to avoid the first frost. Yet, he asserts his objective in farming is not monetary gain but rather developing self-discipline. In his view, it is the growth of the farmer, not the crop, that truly matters. He expresses surprise at people's intense focus on their farms’ success, in contrast to their apathy towards the personal growth of men. Reflecting on nature's indifference to crop success or failure, Thoreau observes that the sun shines equally on tilled and untouched lands. He thinks some portion of every crop is destined for the woodchuck. He finds a field overrun with weeds may dishearten a farmer, but it represents a boon to a hungry bird. In such a world, he advises farmers to relinquish their worries and simply appreciate nature's gifts.

the village

When Thoreau completes his morning duties, he takes another dip in the pond before setting off to enjoy his day. He regularly visits Concord, catching up on town news and interacting with locals at popular spots like the grocery store, bar, post office, and bank. Despite the enticing goods on display in various stores, Thoreau remains disinterested in buying anything and heads back home without delay. His return trips to Walden Pond are often under the cover of darkness, a journey he finds challenging but grows familiar with over time, aided by the surrounding trees and the worn path. He observes that others are not as comfortable walking at night, even within the village, often losing their way. Nevertheless, Thoreau believes that getting lost can be beneficial, as it enables one to truly understand oneself and "the infinite extent of our relations." During one visit to Concord, Thoreau is held, arrested, and put in jail for not paying a poll tax to "the state which buys and sells men, women, and children, like cattle at the door of its senate-house." After a night in jail, he is freed and returns to Walden Pond, unperturbed by his incarceration. He contemplates how he lives fearlessly, without disturbance, barring government interference. He doesn't find it necessary to secure his belongings and warmly invites all visitors. He believes theft only occurs where "some have got more than is sufficient while others have not enough."

the ponds

Tired of the bustle of town, Thoreau retreats to the tranquility of the countryside. He frequently enjoys peaceful boat rides on the pond, playing his flute, and also engages in midnight fishing. His experiences provide a transition into a detailed contemplation of Concord’s local ponds, particularly Walden. Despite Walden Pond's ordinary appearance, Thoreau describes it as exceptionally deep and clean. Its water changes color based on the viewer's perspective and the time of day, appearing blue, green, or entirely clear. Unlike river water that tints the swimmer's skin yellowish, Walden's water lends a pure white hue. Thoreau shares local myths claiming the pond is bottomless. Its white-stone-clad shoreline and surrounding hills inspire Thoreau to humorously suggest that Walden means “walled-in”. He notes the individuality of other ponds in the area, like Flints’, highlighting their distinct characteristics. Thoreau’s exploration of the surrounding areas leads him to trace the footprints of past generations. He talks about the pond’s fluctuating depth and ponders over the origins of the name, Walden. There are speculations among townsfolk attributing the formation of the pond to a hill sinking into the earth as retribution for Native American misdeeds. His “ancient settler” friend even claims to have excavated Walden. Thoreau respects these tales and observes similar stones in the nearby hills as those encircling Walden's shores. He recounts his encounters with various pond-dwelling creatures like ducks, frogs, muskrats, minks, and turtles. As the chapter closes, Thoreau's narrative takes a more mystical tone. He emphasizes the ponds' calming aura, hinting at a divine significance. He concludes by stating the ponds' beauty surpasses human comprehension and is “much more beautiful than our lives.”

baker farm

Occasionally, Thoreau ventures from Walden and Flints’ Ponds to explore nearby forests and groves. One time, while on a fishing trip and caught in a storm, he takes shelter in a seemingly abandoned hut near Baker Farm, but discovers it is inhabited by John Field and his family, who are poor Irish immigrants. Thoreau starts a one-sided conversation lecturing Field on improving his lifestyle by reassessing his needs and living frugally to escape his poverty. Thoreau advocates for a simplistic, natural life, referring to it as “the only true America” where luxuries like tea, coffee, and beef are redundant. He claims to be addressing Field as a fellow thinker, but his advice is not well received. Thoreau concludes Field is hesitant to take chances and lacks the “arithmetic” to appreciate Thoreau’s financial guidance. Leaving the Fields’ dwelling, Thoreau makes no mention of any shared warmth or humor. Thoreau unfairly assumes that Field is a victim of “inherited Irish poverty.” He notices the well is polluted, its rope snapped and bucket “irrecoverable.” Despite this, when offered a drink, Thoreau takes the dirty “gruel” that “sustains life here," stating, “I am not squeamish in such cases when manners are concerned.”

higher laws

During his stroll back home, Thoreau has an urge to eat a woodchuck he spots. He recognizes his conflicting nature, both dignified and spiritual, as well as raw and wild, and appreciates both aspects of his persona. He views hunting as a crucial milestone in personal development, but contends that the intellectually and spiritually advanced individuals eventually abandon this pursuit. Although an adept fisher, Thoreau admits his recent distaste for fishing. He suggests that fish is not entirely wholesome or clean. His inclination towards vegetarianism is based on his ideology and instincts and not due to any health issues. Thoreau refrains from consuming alcohol, tea, and coffee for similar reasons. He advocates simple diet and finds meat consumption morally degrading. He believes few people would eat meat if they had to kill the animals themselves. Grains and vegetables are his preferred food, being more satisfying and easier to prepare. He encourages savouring food, not merely consuming it out of obligation. Thoreau seeks to distinguish his spiritual self from his primal instincts. Though he acknowledges this is not entirely possible, he finds the attempt rewarding. As one’s animalistic tendencies diminish, one draws closer to divinity. Thoreau suggests we can either be virtuous or depraved, pure or impure. Each individual is responsible for their body and soul, and the evidence of this care will reflect in their appearance. Noble thoughts and deeds will result in a noble countenance, while ignoble ones will leave a mark of degradation. As a closing note, Thoreau refers to John Farmer, a symbolic figure of the common man striving for a more meaningful life. Farmer “redeems” himself by immersing his mind in his body, leading to increased self-respect.

brute neighbors

Thoreau and his friend William Ellery Channing often go fishing together at Walden Pond. One conversation between them shows Thoreau focusing on catching fish for food while Channing is engrossed in cloud-gazing, later regretting his lack of practical effort. Thoreau interacts with the wildlife around his home, playing with mice and observing birds which he dubs his hens and chickens. He occasionally spots otters and raccoons, admiring the raccoons' ability to thrive off human waste while remaining concealed in the woods. His makeshift well, a half-mile from his dwelling, is a spot for lunch, fresh water, reading, and encounters with woodcocks and turtledoves. Thoreau witnesses a fight between a big black ant and a smaller red one, part of a larger battle between their colonies. Despite the red ants being half the size of their black counterparts, they outnumber them two to one. Reflecting on the similarity of this ant war to human conflicts, he collects three fighting ants and views their struggle under a microscope, eventually releasing the lone survivor. Thoreau often comes across domestic cats in the woods, who despite their domesticity, express their wildness by hissing at him when he gets too close. He recalls the myth of a winged cat, which was speculated to have bred with a flying squirrel. This feline's "wings" (clumps of shed fur) were given to him, and Thoreau appreciates the whimsical idea of owning a winged cat as a poet. He also tries to observe a loon while boating on the pond. Despite these attempts, the loon usually dives underwater and reappears with a loud laugh. The unpredictability of these creatures' actions, including the ducks and other "brute neighbors", leaves Thoreau concluding that they are as fascinated with their natural surroundings as he is.

house warming

Upon harvesting wild apples and chestnuts, Thoreau laments how nature's gifts have been exploited for profit. However, he still manages to enjoy what remains. Autumn's falling leaves are a beautiful sight to him, even though they signal the impending severity of winter. With wasps vacating due to the dropping temperature, he retreats to his shelter, choosing to bask in the remaining autumn sun, which he values over “artificial” fire. As summer concludes, he learns masonry to construct a chimney in his cabin with the assistance of his buddy, Channing. By November, his summer efforts pay off and the fires keep him warm during the chilly nights. As winter sets in, parts of Walden Pond solidify, allowing Thoreau to explore its depths by stepping on the thin ice layer. He is equally intrigued by the underwater world and the formation of ice around rising air bubbles. Studying the ice formation and the bubbles daily, he discovers how they cause the ice to “crack and whoop.” With the onset of winter, he falls into a routine of gathering firewood and observing the southward migration of geese. The act of collecting firewood becomes paramount. He uses different types of wood, particularly pine, and sometimes dry leaves to light his fires. Enjoying the warmth of fire along with cellar-dwelling moles, Thoreau contemplates that both the rich and poor benefit from heat, and that without it, mankind would not survive another ice age.

former inhabitants and winter visitors

Thoreau often spends his winter nights by his fire, with the snow fiercely swirling outside his home. The deep snow allows him to carve a way to the town, however, visits to his secluded dwelling are few during the cold. Alone in the wild, Thoreau finds himself imagining the people who had previously braved the harsh Walden winters. Although the path between Concord and Lincoln houses few people, Thoreau is convinced it was once denser with settlers, including many Black individuals. He conjures up images of past residents like Cato Ingraham, the old maid Zilpha, and Brister Freeman along with his wife, Fenda. Most of their homes have disappeared, either due to age or fire. Thoreau recollects the time when Breed’s cabin was destroyed in a fire twelve years ago. He and the local firefighters tried to save it, but it was too late. He vividly remembers seeing the property’s heir, in a state of shock, muttering about his loss. Near Lincoln, a potter named Wyman used to reside, later succeeded by his lineage. Another notable past dweller was an Irishman, Hugh Quoil, an ex-soldier from the Battle of Waterloo, who inhabited the Wyman residence. All these individuals have disappeared, leaving Thoreau alone amid the ruined foundations and empty cellars that were once their homes. What was once a thriving village is now a sign of decay, marked only by grasses and lilacs planted during more prosperous periods and outlasting their owners. Thoreau ponders over the fleeting nature of the human presence in nature. Thoreau’s human interactions are scarce during the heavy winter, even animals become reclusive. His most constant companions include a barred owl, an occasional woodcutter, and his friends William Ellery Channing and philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau’s mentor, also visits frequently. None of these men are mentioned by their names in the text; Emerson is referred to as the “Old Immortal.” Thoreau constantly waits for “the Visitor who never comes,” abiding by an ancient Hindu rule of hospitality.

winter animals

Traversing a frosty pond, Thoreau experiences a sense of openness and space, with ample room for skating and sliding on the icy cover. The ambiance is filled with the hoot-owl's call and the goose's echo reverberating through the forest. Red squirrels frisk and forage in the morning, rabbits appear at twilight for food, and foxes comb the snowy landscape for prey on moonlit nights. Such noises are fleeting, but the audio of snowfall and ice breaking endure day and night. Thoreau positions the season's green corn at his entrance, luring smaller squirrels and rabbits closer to his habitation. He often observes these tiny beings as they nibble at their meal for hours. Sometimes they transport their harvest back into the wilderness, leaving their waste scattered, which in turn attracts jays, chickadees, and sparrows to the residue corn cobs. At certain times, Thoreau hears hounds barking as they chase their target. Frequently, he engages in conversation with the hunters passing Walden.

the pond in winter

Every morning, Thoreau begins his day by collecting water, a task made challenging in winter due to the frozen surface of the pond. His solitary task is soon accompanied by a group of fisherman. Their basic fishing techniques amuse Thoreau, but what strikes him more is the colorful pickerel they catch, contrasting with the more common sea fish like cod and haddock. To determine Walden Pond's depth and debunk the local myth about its bottomlessness, Thoreau uses a stone and a fishing line. Despite popular belief that the pond is immeasurable, Thoreau's experiment reveals it to be just over a hundred feet deep. He contemplates on people's inclination to believe in symbols representing eternity and heaven. By repeatedly measuring the depth at different points, Thoreau maps the pond's bottom, discovering that it mirrors the surrounding landscape. The pond is deepest at its widest and longest point, leading Thoreau to speculate if this relation applies to all water bodies, including oceans. To validate his theory, he measures the nearby White Pond, finding that it holds true. Thoreau suggests that the depth of one's soul could be determined by their actions and life situation. During his second winter at the pond, Walden Pond is swarmed by a hundred workmen. Hired by a determined farmer, they spend two weeks chipping away at the ice. They claim to harvest up to a thousand tons a day and ten thousand tons across the winter season. Their endeavor results in a mountain of ice, meant to be stored and sold later for profit. Despite some of it reaching distant places, Thoreau observes that the majority of it melts and returns to the pond.


As April arrives, the ice on Walden Pond starts to thaw, creating a resounding noise that Thoreau finds pleasing. He recalls a wise old man, who was frightened by the sound of the melting ice despite his familiarity with nature. Thoreau views this as a sign of a universal transformation. The sand moves with the drifting streams of water, while buds and leaves emerge. Wild geese soar, their calls echoing in the sky. Thoreau believes that this time of rejuvenation is perfect for letting go of past resentments and forgiving old misdeeds. The pleasant weather inspires him to resume fishing. He marvels at a lone hawk gliding in the sky. He feels a pulse of universal existence and religious turmoil, and contemplates that death in such a setting would be painless. Having fulfilled his purpose, Thoreau departs from Walden Pond on September 6, 1847.


Thoreau suggests that a change of soul, not scenery, is the cure for life's ailments, poking fun at the common recommendation of doctors. He feels his decision to leave Walden Pond is as justified as his choice to arrive, as he has other experiences to encounter and lives to lead. He underscores the importance of living towards one's dreams, stating that this is the true goal, and not pointless ventures such as "counting the cats in Zanzibar." He critiques modern Americans, puzzled by their urgent need for success. He encourages us to shed our material possessions while preserving our inner selves. According to him, life is sweetest when lived simply, and money cannot purchase the necessities of the soul. He contemplates the superficiality of city life, referring to dinner parties and idle gossip as a swamp compared to the self-revelation one can gain in solitude. Thoreau observes that we're unaware of our true location and spend half of our lives in slumber, leading him to label himself as a "human insect" and reflect on a greater power. In conclusion, Thoreau accepts that the average reader may not grasp his words, but dismisses this as irrelevant. He heralds the dawn of a new era, symbolized by the sun, the "morning star" of a new life.

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