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Reading Walden is no easy task, but it is an energising experience—if you meet Thoreau on his own terms. He is not interested in the casual reader, but rather a reader willing to figure out if there is something valuable to be had. He only wants his words to be read by “strong and valiant natures” who are ready for a fight, who have thought as deeply as he, and who can back up his or her convictions with passion, courage and eloquence.
Contrary to what so many people think—that Thoreau just likes to tell people how to live –(and maybe did not live that way himself) he really is simply challenging us, his readers, to look at our own lives and figure out whether or not we are “miserable failures as human beings;” whether or not we are “serfs” of the soil, or whether or not we are anything but a “machine.”
Every paragraph in my abridged version of “Economy” is chock full of bold statements, challenges, and admonitions. 
What I want you to do is to rise to the challenge. Be like Thoreau and think deeply about your life and your role in shaping a better life. Respond to the introduction to “Economy” with words of your own.  
You should be able to go to your “Notes” section of Walden and see a list of highlighted quotes and any annotations you would have made when reading the introduction.
Write about what you highlighted. What do you think Thoreau is trying to say in each of these passages? Do you agree or disagree with Thoreau? Answer as fully as you can.
Write at least three paragraphs. Each at least 150 words in length.
Write for at least thirty minutes: Edit for ten minutes. Post as “Thoughts on the Introduction to Walden” to your blog.
Here is a great example of a Literary Reflection about Walden written by Ms. Cobblah’s dad, John Updike. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2004/jun/26/classics
If you need help, here are some ways to start a Literary Reflection Paragraph:
  1. Thoreau writes that the “old have nothing useful to teach us.” What he is really saying is…
  2. Sometimes in school I feel like I am a “serf of the soil” and I have become “no more than a machine” because…
  3. I like the line “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” It reminds me that I need to…
  4. My biggest takeaway from Walden so far is…
  5. The whole chapter so far is full of great one-liners such as…

We will continue this reading and reflecting up until Thanksgiving break.  What you write now will help you tremendously when we write our Walden Essay after Thanksgiving break.


Monday, 11/15:  Read and Discuss Introduction


  1. Complete literary reflection for Walden Introduction. Post to Blog
  2. Read Updike article.

Tuesday, 11/17: I will be out first period tomorrow. Please write a literary reflection for the section “The Fallacy of Philanthropy.” Post to blog at end of class!


  1. Read and Annotate: “Clothes” and “Shelter”

Wednesday, 11/18: Write a literary reflection for “Clothes” and “Shelter.” Post to blog at end of class!


  1. Read Education and “Money and Work.” 
  2. Be sure that all of “Economy” is read and annotated

Friday, 11/20: Test on “Economy” 

Weekend Homework:

  1. Read and annotate unread sections of  “Where I Lived and What I Lived For.”

Monday, 11/24: Harkness Discussion on “Where I Lived and What I Lived For.”