Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, is packed with lots of advice, criticism, and deeper meaning. It can be hard to unpack exactly what Thoreau is saying, especially when he seems to contradict himself around every corner. Despite that, an important theme that stood out to me was wisdom and the search for inner fulfillment.
In “Conclusion”, Thoreau talks about the boundaries set up by rail fences and stone walls that seem to inhibit people from digging deeper into themselves. In the first paragraph, Thoreau is challenging us as readers to take a look at the boundaries we have set for ourselves and to go beyond them. Our lives don’t have to be one specific way and we always have room for development, growth, and change. This move from reading to theorizing seems necessary because all throughout Walden, Thoreau is trying to show us as readers that we should question and challenge our societal roles and find our own sense of solitude and fulfillment.
Thoreau wants us to go and find our own Walden Pond so that we aren’t stuck in the same cycles of complacency and ignorance that society can create for us. We have to go and live our lives through experience and gaining wisdom. Thoreau wants us to question what we know and how we act in order to make choices to be better and do better.
This wisdom can’t be found in college, according to Thoreau and is unique to each individual. We must gain it through the experience of truly living. In paragraph 2, Thoreau encourages us to “open new channels of thought” so that we can gain new wisdom and can go beyond boundaries society (and ourselves) place on us.