Analyzing the Text
He moves into the woods because he wants to live deliberately, purposefully, so much so that when he dies, he will have felt that he has lived fully. It relates to his purpose in writing Walden, as he abandons the unnecessary and “spend[s] one day as deliberately as Nature” (94). Walden is how Thoreau will help the reader, and himself, do this.
Metaphor: “In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life,” which means that civilized life is full of unnecessary things and concerns. This nautical metaphor is repeated in the Conclusion, when Thoreau says “I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world” (209-211).
He is exaggerating man’s feeling of consequence, “as if the rest of mankind had stood his sentinels” (81). The purpose of this is to ridicule the feelings of importance felt by men in relation to their impact on mankind.
Thoreau argues that you are never really alone, “what sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary” (137-8). Solitude is not the distance between people as shown in line 139, but rather oneness with nature. His observations of nature develop these ideas as, “I go and come with a strange liberty in Nature, a part of herself”(114-5). Nature is full of animals, life and sound, as his observations make clear, so solitude is not lonely.
“The pond in Winter” compares the pond and the surrounding winter to “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads” (155). “Spring” compares nature, or the impression that nature gives, to “universal innocence” (195-6). In both of these Thoreau is giving a divine quality to the nature surrounding him, alluding to the bible. However, where “The Pond in Winter” is heavenly and above reproach (godly), “Spring” is animalistic but innocent (human).
Thoreau thinks that living honestly is important, that those who live simply, live best and that appreciating the small things is key. Quotes: “We will not be shipwrecked on a vain reality” (232), “Receive without misgiving” (246), “It is life near the bone where it is the sweetest” (267-8).
Thoreau’s goal was to go outside the normality of civilized life, and so when his life at Walden Pond became “tradition and conformity” (209), he needed to leave. He was able to appreciate the small things, to live his life, however mean (236). The ideas in the Conclusion connect to the introduction because they show how Thoreau “live[d] deliberately,… front[ed] only the essential facts of life” (26-7).
His style is effective because it is descriptive and reflective, allowing the reader to picture Walden pool and therefore reach the same conclusions. Thoreau wanted to show how one could live simply with nature, and his natural focus demonstrates this. His honesty in saying why he left the woods makes him a reliable narrator/trustworthy.