Topics for Discussion

1. Why do you think the essay “Economy” is by far the longest chapter in Walden?

2. What does Thoreau hope to achieve at Walden Pond?

3. Which do you prefer, the sections of the book devoted to Transcendentalist philosophy or those in which Thoreau describes the living things around his cabin? Is his idealism ever completely absent anywhere in the book?

4. What kind of reading does Thoreau recommend? Why does he dislike newspapers?

5. Thoreau praises solitude, but insists he is not a hermit. Is this contradictory?

6. What famous event in Thoreau’s life is mentioned briefly in the concluding paragraph of “The Village”?

7. Why are such detailed descriptions provided in “The Ponds”? What symbolic value do they have for Thoreau?

8. What is a paradox? Does Thoreau make good use of paradoxes in Walden?

9. In his descriptions of the various seasons at Walden, which season does Thoreau seem to prefer? Why?