Walden

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Walden The Ponds Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The features of the landscape in the woods are humble, Thoreau writes, but Walden Pond is remarkable. It is deep, pure, sometimes blue and sometimes green, not very abundant in fish besides pickerel, has an irregular shore, and is inhabited peacefully by ducks and geese and frogs and other wildlife, like White Pond, a nearby pond it resembles. Thoreau drinks from the pond, and remembers coming to the pond before he lived there to light a fire by the shore. He sometimes goes fishing on the pond with a companion but they do not talk on the boat, and experience an "unbroken harmony" between them that is better than if they had spoken.
Thoreau's extensive, closely observed descriptions of the pond show his deep reverence for it and the spiritual grandeur he believes it has as a part of nature. When he goes out fishing with his companion but they stay silent, he is able to have a kind of solitude in the company of another person just as he is able to have solitude in nature.
Themes
Solitude and Society Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Transcendentalism, Spirituality, and the Good Life Theme Icon
There are tracks around the pond that, Thoreau thinks, were made by aboriginal hunters. According to an Indian fable, a group was holding a pow-wow on a hill and were using profanity, when suddenly the hill they were on sank and became a depression and swallowed up the whole group except for one person, a woman named Walden. Thoreau describes the pond as "earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." To him, the water is "as sacred as the Ganges," yet the villagers merely pump it into town to wash their dishes.
Thoreau thinks of himself as having a kind of connection with the aboriginal hunters of the past, who respected the land and had a sense of its spiritual value. The Indian's sense of the pond as holy is made clear in the fable, in which those who curses near the pond were swallowed up. But the villagers also belittle the pond, not by cursing near it but by seeing it only as something they can use to wash their dishes, and therefore not appreciating or even noticing its sacred beauty.In contrast, Thoreau believes he can learn about himself by looking into the pond.
Themes
Simplicity Over "Progress" Theme Icon
Solitude and Society Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Transcendentalism, Spirituality, and the Good Life Theme Icon
About a mile way from Walden Pond, there is Flint's, also called Sandy Pond, which is much larger and more shallow, less pure, and has more fish. Thoreau laments that pond's boring name and wishes that natural features were named not after the farmers who happened to live there but after the animals that live there. Nearby, Goose Pond is small, the "lesser twin of Walden" and very similar to it, but free of boats because there are no fish in it to catch. Thoreau says, "Nature has no human inhabitant that appreciates her."
Thoreau believes that nature is pure and belongs to no one and therefore should not be profaned by having a name of some unimportant farmer, or any other human. In commenting how Goose Pond has no human admirer, Thoreau reveals himself as someone who strives to be a human inhabitant that does appreciate nature.
Themes
Simplicity Over "Progress" Theme Icon
Nature Theme Icon
Transcendentalism, Spirituality, and the Good Life Theme Icon