The Portable Thoreau

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Self-described as 'a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher to boot', Henry David Thoreau dedicated his life to preserving his freedom as a man and as an artist. Nature was the fountainhead of his inspiration and his refuge from what he considered the follies of society. Heedless of his friends' advice to live in a more orthodox manner, he determinedly pursued his own inner bent - that of a poet-philosopher - in prose and verse, in his masterpiece Walden, from which this work is taken. Edited by noted Thoreau scholar Jeffrey S. Cramer, this edition is the new standard for those interested in discovering the great thinker's influential ideas about everything from environmentalism to limited government.
Curriculet Details
198 Questions
197 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring figurative language, connotation, as well as annotations describing figurative language, syntax, and hyperbole. Students will explore the themes of self-reliance and nature. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

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Natural History of Massachusetts, 1842

Thoreau wrote "Natural History of Massachusetts" in 1842, after his friend and fellow writer Ralph Waldo Emerson asked him to compose an essay on scientific surveys of Massachusetts for the publication The Dial. 
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What literary technique does Thoreau employ in the highlighted lines? 
As you read this essay, observe Thoreau's deep love and admiration of nature. Although this essay is intended to be a scientific survey of the state, he cannot seem to separate science from his more subjective passion for nature.  
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Which of the following best summarizes Thoreau's views of nature as expressed in the highlighted lines?  
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?  
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Analyze Thoreau's point of view in this essay so far. Is he objective or subjective? What is the overall tone of this piece? Provide at least two examples to support your analysis.  
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Which of these literary devices is present in the highlighted passage? 
Observe the following video on rhetorical questions. Identify the rhetorical questions in the highlighted excerpt. What do you think is Thoreau's purpose in using these rhetorical questions?  (This annotation contains a video)
Observe Thoreau's change in syntax here. Instead of breaking up his ideas into smaller paragraphs, as he has done throughout the text prior to this point, this paragraph is suddenly long and almost rambling. Why do you think he chose to structure this paragraph in this way? 
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Based on the details in the highlighted passage, which words best describe Thoreau's attitude towards the fox? 
An allusion is a reference to another author or piece of work. The highlighted quotation is an allusion to Shakespeare's famous play Macbeth.  
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Identify the rhyme scheme in the opening lines of this poem.  
Below is a picture of a snapping turtle with its eggs, likely the same type of turtle that Thoreau describes in this passage.  (This annotation contains an image)
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Which literary device does Thoreau employ in the highlighted line? 
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To whom or what does the "elves and fairies" represent in the highlighted passage? 
Notice Thoreau's imagery here. What words, adjectives, and similes stand out as especially effective in this passage? 
Take a moment to pause and reflect on Thoreau's attitude towards nature (as reflected thus far in his essay). It is important to note that Thoreau was highly inspired by his fellow American writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Read an excerpt from Emerson's famous essay "Nature" by clicking the link provided below:  (This annotation contains a link)
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Refer to the previous annotation to read the excerpt from Emerson's essay "Nature." Compare and contrast Emerson and Thoreau's attitudes towards nature. In what way(s) are their views similar and/or different? Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis.   

A Winter Walk, 1843

Watch the following video on imagery, and pay close attention to the imagery used throughout this essay, "A Winter Walk." What imagery stands out to you in these opening lines of the piece?  (This annotation contains a video)
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Observe Thoreau's diction in the highlighted paragraph. What word choice(s) serve to make the passage more inclusive for the reader? 
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What best describes Thoreau's opinion of winter, as revealed in the highlighted lines? 
What do you think Thoreau is describing when he refers to a "slumbering subterranean fire"? 
A sentence that ends in an exclamation point is known as an "exclamatory sentence." These types of sentences are often employed to express emotion. What emotion is Thoreau expressing in these lines?  
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Based on the context of the highlighted excerpt, what best describes the "sweet music"? 
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Which words best suggest that Thoreau feels comfortable in nature?  
Notice Thoreau's use of capitalization. Why do you think he capitalizes the word "Winter" here? 
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Refer to the previous annotation to view the painting "In the Wild North." Compare Shishkin's representation of nature in contrast to Thoreau's representation of nature (as expressed in the highlighted poem). What are some similarities and/or differences in their attitudes towards winter? Provide at least two examples from each piece to support your analysis.  
View the following painting "In the Wild North" by artist Ivan Shishkin. Compare his artistic rendition of winter to Thoreau's poem about nature.  (This annotation contains an image)
Homer is an ancient Greek writer and poet. The highlighted lines are adapted from his famous text The Iliad.  (This annotation contains an image)
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Which of the following most likely identifies Thoreau's purpose in "A Winter Walk"? 

Ktaadn, 1848 (from The Maine Woods, 1864) (excerpts)

Katahdin is the highest mountain in Maine, measuring at 5,269 feet. View the picture of Katahdin below: (This annotation contains an image)
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Consider the structure of this opening paragraph. How does Thoreau grab the reader's attention in this opening passage? Is his structure and organization effective? Provide at least two specific examples from the highlighted paragraph to support your analysis.  
Notice Thoreau's detailed accounts of the animals in the area. Does he seem afraid of the wildlife?  
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Based on the information provided, why does McCauslin climb a tree at this moment?  
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What is meant by the lines "my companions were seeking a suitable spot for this purpose"? 
A hyperbole is when an author uses exaggeration that is not meant to be taken literally. Examine Thoreau's descriptions of Katahdin's summit and then view the photograph of Katahdin below; do you think he is being hyperbolic here, or are his descriptions likely an accurate representation of the mountain?  (This annotation contains an image)
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To what does Thoreau compare "sitting in a chimney and waiting for the smoke to blow away"? 
Notice the rhetorical question in the highlighted excerpt. A rhetorical question is not intended to evoke an answer, but is moreover used to have an effect or to add emphasis.  
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Which of the following central ideas or themes may be evident based on the details in the highlighted paragraph? 
Consider the many navigational tools you likely have at your fingertips (a smartphone, GPS, computer, etc). Do you think you could navigate the wilderness without modern technology like Thoreau and his companions do?  
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Reread the highlighted excerpt to consider Thoreau's philosophy on man and nature. Evaluate Thoreau's evolution of thought throughout this essay so far. How have his views of man and nature developed throughout the piece?  
Why do you think Thoreau capitalizes the word "Powers" here? Do you notice this use of capitalization anywhere else in this essay? 
Below is a picture of Pockwockomus Falls. Notice the rough waters and rocky terrain. Is this similar to what you had imagined based on Thoreau's descriptions in the previous paragraph? (This annotation contains an image)
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What has become "tamed and subdued" in the highlighted paragraph? 
Considering the expansion of modern civilization since the 1800's, do you think this type of "continuousness" in the wilderness of Maine still exists today? 
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How does Thoreau add emphasis to his ideas in the highlighted lines? 
Consider the highlighted passage. What does Thoreau think we need to do in order to "discover" more of our world? 
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Identify one of the central ideas from this essay. How has this idea evolved throughout the piece? Provide at least three examples from the text to support your analysis.  

Civil Disobedience, 1849

The highlighted line is an example of one of Thoreau's most famous aphorisms. An aphorism is a brief, often witty, statement of truth or opinion. Look for aphorisms throughout this text (as well as in Thoreau's other pieces of writing). 
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According to Thoreau, why is it those in power who retain control?  
William Paley (shown below) lived from 1743 to 1845 and was a famous clergyman and theological speaker / writer.  (This annotation contains an image)
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How does Thoreau present his argument in the highlighted paragraph? 
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Refer to the previous annotation to read the copy of the Declaration of Independence. Consider how the Declaration of Independence (as well as the American rebellion from the British) was inspired because the Americans felt that the British laws and rules were unjust. In this essay, Thoreau makes similar complaints. Analyze the similarities and/or differences between Thoreau's essay and the Declaration of Independence. Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis.   
Consider the highlighted text and then read the copy of the Declaration of Independence (provided below). What similarities do you see between Thoreau's arguments about unjust laws/rulers and the beliefs of the creators of the Declaration? (This annotation contains a link)
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According to Thoreau, where is the only honorable place for a person to reside when a government "imprisons unjustly"? (Note: Refer to the opening lines of the highlighted paragraph for additional context clues.) 
Thoreau uses figurative language and metaphors throughout his argument. What do you think of his use of figurative language here?  
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To whom is Thoreau most likely referring when he says "the State"?   
This is an important paragraph. Why doesn't Thoreau feel "confined" even though he is in jail? 
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Why does Thoreau state that spending the night in jail was like "traveling into a far country"? 
Thoreau is released from jail because someone paid the tax bill for him. How do you think Thoreau felt about someone paying his tax? 
The highlighted lines are from George Peele's tragedy The Battle of Alcazar (1594).  
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What is the meaning for the term "fountain-head" as used in this passage? 
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Refer to the previous annotation to read Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Summarize and compare both King and Thoreau's arguments. What similarities and differences do you observe between these texts? Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis.  
In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested for his own acts of civil disobedience. While in jail, he also wrote an essay, famously known as "Letter from Birmingham Jail." Read King's letter, provided below, and consider his argument in comparison with Thoreau's essay.  (This annotation contains a link)
Quiz 1 

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, 1849 (excerpts)

Although this essay will describe Thoreau's experience exploring the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, notice his language and tone here. Does this sound like a personal, subjective introduction to the essay? Why do you think Thoreau begins his essay in this manner? 
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Which words best describes Thoreau's writing style in this essay so far?  
Notice how this entire paragraph is just one long sentence! How does this syntactical choice, here and in previous paragraphs, impact your reading of the text?  
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To whom or what does the word "she" refer when Thoreau states "she began to respire again"?  
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Consider Thoreau's point of view here. Based on the context of this essay thus far, what most likely has inspired Thoreau's commentary on religion and God? 
Thoreau's essay thus far is comprised of many long compound and complex sentences; however, in the highlighted lines, he interrupts these longer sentences with a brief simple sentence ("It is clear sky"). What is the effect of this syntactical choice? Note: for a "refresher" on sentence types, visit the webpage provided below.  (This annotation contains a link)
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Thoreau has offered a great deal of commentary and thought on religion. Summarize three of his opinions on religion as stated in the essay thus far. What is his attitude towards religion? Provide at least three examples from the text to support your analysis.  
According to The Bible, the "fourth commandment" states the following directive: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (Exodus:20:8-11). 
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What is the purpose of providing the descriptions in this paragraph? 
Below is an image of Saddle-back Mountain, one of the highest mountains in Maine. (This annotation contains an image)
Once again, notice Thoreau's use of syntax. Here, he utilizes a sentence fragment (an incomplete sentence). Why do you think he chooses to include this here? How does this shape his writing style? 
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Picture this event in your mind: Thoreau finally arrives at the top of the mountain, but is very thirsty, so he must quickly look for water. He finds some water that is sitting in the tracks of horses that have previously traveled this trail. Thoreau then lays down flat on the ground and slurps up the water out of the old horse tracks. What does this event tell you about Thoreau's experiences in nature?  
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What type of literary device does Thoreau employ in the highlighted lines? 
"Terra firma" is a Latin phrase that translates to "solid earth." 
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What literary device does Thoreau utilize in the highlighted lines? 
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The quoted poem is derived from Giles Fletcher's "A Description of Mary." What is Thoreau's purpose in including Fletcher's poem in this essay? What effect does this poem have on the overall purpose and message of Thoreau's essay? Provide at least one example to support your analysis. 
Thoreau's language is becoming more descriptive and figurative. Watch the following video on figurative language and observe his use of this technique as his essay progresses:  (This annotation contains a video)
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According to Thoreau, why is Rice seemingly so "rude"? 
These are some of the first lines of dialogue and conversation in this essay. What is Thoreau's purpose in including this dialogue here? 
View the image of Coos Falls (today known as "Coos Canyon") below. Do Thoreau's descriptions of nature reflect what is shown in this picture? (This annotation contains an image)
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To what is Thoreau likely referring when he states that we are all "acting a part" in a "drama"? 
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Which word best describes Thoreau's tone in this part of the text? 
Anaphora is a form of parallel structure wherein a word or phrase is repeated in successive clauses to achieve a certain effect. What effect does Thoreau's use of anaphora have in the highlighted lines? 
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How does Thoreau express and structure his ideas in the highlighted lines? 
"The poet" and author of these subsequent lines is John Donne (1572-1631), an English cleric and poet. (This annotation contains an image)
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Based on his writing in the highlighted lines, with which of these statements would Thoreau most likely agree? 
Some of Thoreau's thoughts on friendship and "saying goodbye" in this excerpt may be his way of working through the loss of his dear friend and brother, John.  
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William Penn, an English philosopher and early founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, once declared that "A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably." Consider Thoreau's many thoughts on friendship. How would he likely respond to this quote? Would he agree or disagree with Penn's point of view? Provide at least two examples from Thoreau's essay to support your analysis.  
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How does Thoreau express his views of friendship in the highlighted lines? 
Thoreau admits that his friends may not hear enough compliments from him. Based on his details here, as well as his thoughts and actions throughout the essay, do you think Thoreau is a good friend? 
Confucius, who lived from 551–479 BC, is a well-known and frequently quoted Chinese educator, editor, philosopher, and politician.  (This annotation contains an image)
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How does Thoreau construct his argument and message in the highlighted paragraph? 
Perhaps Thoreau is reaching a culminating thought with this line. Keep in mind while reading this essay that Thoreau is coping with the death of his brother John. Do you think these lines are in reference to his brother? 
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How does Thoreau add emphasis to his ideas in the highlighted lines? 
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Take a moment to consider some of the emerging themes from this essay so far. Identify one theme from this essay and summarize Thoreau's statements on this theme. How has the theme developed throughout the text? Provide at least two examples to support your explanation. 
Notice Thoreau's use of italics in the highlighted line (as well as throughout all of his texts). What is the purpose of the italicization here? 
Watch the following video on denotations and connotations. Do any of the words in the highlighted lines carry strong connotations? What is the impact of the connotations? (This annotation contains a video)
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What do the details in the highlighted lines tell you about what is about to going in the text? 
Why do you think Thoreau is telling the reader this story? What is the purpose or meaning for this anecdote?  
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How did the woman and her fellow captives in this story ultimately escape?  
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Which of the following best expresses the sentiments expressed in the highlighted lines? 
What do you think Thoreau means by these lines? Do you agree with his statements? 
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Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video on mood and tone. How would you describe Thoreau's tone in this section of the essay? Provide at least two examples to support your analysis.  
Watch the following video on mood and tone and reflect on Thoreau's overall tone in this essay:  (This annotation contains a video)

The Journal: Selections from Thoreau's Journal on the Art of Writing

What do you think of Thoreau's metaphor that his journal is his "barn-yard" of ideas? Do you have a journal like this? 
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The dates suggest that Thoreau  
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The details in the highlighted passage suggest that Thoreau  
Notice how Thoreau writes journal entries about books and fellow writers. Do you think this is an important habit for an effective writer to maintain?  
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Which literary technique(s) does Thoreau employ in the highlighted lines? 
Observe the length of Thoreau's entries. Why do you think some entries are so much shorter than others?  
What does this entry tell you about Thoreau's inspiration and writing habits? 
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Which of the following best summarizes Thoreau's statements in the highlighted lines? 
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Benjamin Franklin once said "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." Based on what you have read in these journals, how do you think Thoreau would respond to Fraklin's statement? 

Poems

Thoreau states exactly what he thinks a poet "should" do or achieve. What is your reaction to this? Do you think Thoreau finds poetry to be an important medium of writing? 
Do you recall foundational elements of poetry, such as rhyme scheme? If you need a refresher, watch the quick video provided below. This information will help guide your understanding of Thoreau's works in this section of his text: (This annotation contains a video)
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What is the rhyme scheme of this stanza? Refer to the previous annotation to watch the video on rhyme scheme if you need assistance.  
What do you think Thoreau means with the words "with this clear eye"? 
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Based on the context of this stanza, what does the "eastern skies...shroud"? 
Count the syllables in Thoreau's lines. How do the short lines impact the poem's overall sound? 
Do you think Thoreau is literally referring to his brother (deceased John) here, or is the term "Brother" meant to represent someone or something else? 
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Which literary element dominates the highlighted stanzas? 
Before reading "Life," read the following monologue from the play "As You Like It" by William Shakespeare. Then as you read "Life," look for similarities and differences between the two pieces of work:  (This annotation contains a link)
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Pause here to consider Shakespeare's monologue (provided in the previous annotation). What similarities and differences do you see between the two texts thus far? Do Shakespeare and Thoreau share the same outlook on life? Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis. (Note: you can base this answer on the opening stanzas of "Life" thus far, or alternately finish reading "Life" prior to answering this question.) 
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To whom or what does Thoreau "make an offer"? 
Cygnus is a constellation in the Milky Way; its name means "swan."  (This annotation contains an image)
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What does Thoreau mean by "I am blind" in these lines? 
What "clear ancient harmony" is Thoreau describing here? 
This is an allusion to The Bible, referencing the "original sin" (also known as "the fall of Adam and Eve).  
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Choose one of Thoreau's poems from this text. Identify his purpose in the poem and analyze how his style (language, structure, etc.) influences the power of the poem. Provide at least two examples from the poem to support your analysis.  

Walden, 1854 (complete)

The details provided here are important to your understanding of this text. Although Thoreau begins Walden as a sort of journal-like account of his life at Walden Pond, his writing eventually becomes more philosophical, as he will speak about "mankind" and "existence" on a broader scale as the text progresses.  
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Based on the details in the highlighted paragraph, what can you likely infer to be true about Thoreau? 
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Which of the following is the best summary of the highlighted lines? 
Thoreau calls life "an experiment." What do you think of this word choice? Do you agree that life is an "experiment"? 
As you may recall from an earlier annotation, an aphorism is a brief, often witty, statement about life. There will be many aphorisms throughout Walden, so look for them as you read. Do you happen to see any aphorisms in these highlighted lines? 
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What does Thoreau claim "many creatures" regard as "necessary of life"? 
Consider this idea: do you think some of the conveniences and comforts of your life are actually hindrances?  
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Review the highlighted paragraph and summarize Thoreau's main ideas here. What themes are emerging in this text thus far?  
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According to Thoreau, why did he go to Walden Pond? 
Notice how often Thoreau refers to his "fellow citizens" or "fellow man." Why do you think he spends so much time writing down the actions of human beings? What is his purpose? 
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Based on the highlighted lines, with which statement would Thoreau likely agree? 
What is your reaction to Thoreau's thoughts on clothing here? Do you think people today are often "forced" to purchase clothing to fit in with social standards? 
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What is Thoreau's opinion of fashion trends? 
Observe Thoreau's observations on the actions of "a child" here. Thoughts on childlike behavior and innocence will be referenced throughout this text. Why do you think Thoreau includes these observations? 
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Based on these recent paragraphs, with which statement would Thoreau likely agree? 
Use the define feature to look up the definition for "institution." What does this word choice tell you about Thoreau's opinions of "civilized" society? 
This allusion refers to George Chapman (1559 – 1634) an English poet and dramatist.  (This annotation contains an image)
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Summarize Thoreau's arguments about shelter and "civilized houses." What is the purpose of his discussion on this topic? Provide at least two examples to support your summary and explanation. 
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To whom does "Jonathan" likely refer in the highlighted lines? 
"Sardanapalus" is a reference to the last king of Assyria, a kingdom of Mesopotamia.  
What does Thoreau when he says that "the winter of man's discontent was thawing"? 
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Why is Thoreau chopping wood at this point in the text? 
Visit the following webpage to read about a new movement known as "The Tiny House Movement" and to see a picture of Thoreau's actual house from Walden Pond.  (This annotation contains a link)
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Refer to the previous annotation to read about the "Tiny House Movement." Which of Thoreau's ideas, as presented in this essay thus far, have likely inspired this movement? How do you think Thoreau would respond to this movement? Provide at least two examples to support your analysis.  
Take a look at the interior of Thoreau's house. Is this what you envisioned based on Thoreau's descriptions? (This annotation contains an image)
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What might be Thoreau's purpose in telling you the exact details of the cost of his house? 
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Why does Thoreau believe that traveling on foot is the most efficient manner of travel? 
Thoreau often includes analogies and past conversations to construct his argument. Do you think this is an effective approach? 
Keep in mind, this section of Walden is called "Economy." Why do you think Thoreau spends so much time telling the reader about his costs of living? 
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Based on the highlighted statement, whom or what does Thoreau believe is more free? 
Thoreau mentions he earned money with day-labor and carpentry work in the village. It's important to remember that, although he is secluded from civilization at Walden Pond, he was not trying to avoid society entirely. He would still visit the nearby village to work, meet with people, and so forth. He did not completely ostracize himself for his two years and two months at Walden Pond. 
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Review Thoreau's financial records from the last several pages. Pay attention to where he directs most of his money. Do you think he is truly living "simply" without the distractions of civilized life? Provide two examples to support your analysis.  
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What is Thoreau's purpose in specifically studying "primitive" bread making?  
Why do you think "a certain class of unbelievers," according to Thoreau, "cannot understand" what he has to say?  
Do you see any unnecessary items in this list? What would you want to add to your home if you were staying at Walden Pond? 
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Why does Thoreau not need curtains in his home? 
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How long must Thoreau work each year to survive? 
View the following chart (published by The Washington Post) to find out how many hours a week the average American reportedly worked in 2013-2014. Considering Thoreau was able to survive on only six weeks of work each year, how would he likely respond to this modern trend? (This annotation contains an image)
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What does Thoreau use to emphasize his argument in the highlighted lines? 
Thoreau argues that philanthropy, also known as charity, is "greatly overrated." Read his comments on this topic. Do you agree with him? 
It is important to note that Thoreau does not oppose philanthropy (or charity). He chiefly wants to point out that those who often engage in philanthropy still live opulent, wealthy lives (thus making their philanthropic efforts a bit hypocritical). Do you agree with Thoreau's criticisms regarding philanthropic efforts today? 
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Reflect on Thoreau's actions of "living simply" as presented in "Economy" thus far. What, specifically, has Thoreau outlined as actions to live a simplified life? Have you seen these actions evolve throughout "Economy"? If so, how?  
Notice the title here. What does this tell you about what to expect in this section of the text? 
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Which of the following statements regarding the Hollowell farm is true? 
Consider for a moment how this text is evolving from the chapter on "Economy." Instead of focusing on bookkeeping and records, Thoreau is expanding his thoughts to a more philosophical focus.  
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What was Thoreau able to experience that most "villagers" likely have not?  
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What does morning come to mean for Thoreau? 
This is one of Thoreau's most famous aphorisms. What do you think it means to live "deliberately"? Reflect on this powerful word choice. 
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Consider Thoreau's simile that "we live meanly, like ants." Why does Thoreau choose this specific simile to construct his argument? Summarize his examples in the paragraph on this topic. Do you find his argument effective? Why or why not? Provide at least three examples to support your response.  
Consider some of the potential "delusions" in our modern world. What are some of the distractions we face each day that are not really part of "reality"? (Think of things such as fictional television shows, gossip, games on our cell phones, social media, and so forth, etc.) Do you think life would be happier without such distractions? 
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What does Thoreau mean when he says we should live "deliberately as Nature"? 
What a lovely aphorism! Do you agree that children are often more "wise" than adults? In what way? 
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Which is the best summary of Thoreau's opinions on reading? 
Zebulon and Sephronia is a reference to a story in the Bible.  
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Take a moment to consider Thoreau's point of view in this chapter. It is important to note that Thoreau was an esteemed Harvard graduate. How might his educational background shape his views on knowledge and reading? What subjective experiences likely shape Thoreau's views on this topic? 

Homework #22

This is a rather interesting chapter title (and perhaps self-explanatory). Why do you think Thoreau will dedicate an entire chapter to this topic? 
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Aside from having "hoed beans" his first summer, how did Thoreau often pass his time? 
Thoreau provides lovely imagery in describing his views of nature. View a modern picture of Walden Pond below. Does the image match what you pictured based on his descriptions?  (This annotation contains an image)
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What does Thoreau mean when he says "Keep on your own track, then"? 
This is an interesting observation. Thoreau thinks that people now structure their days around the train's schedule (as opposed to people being in charge of the train's schedule, the schedule seems to dictate people's days). Does this make you question your own daily habits and actions? 
Thoreau is quite aware of his isolation, however, do you think he is lonely out at Walden Pond? 
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Which words in the highlighted paragraph contain the most negative connotations? 
Onomatopoeia occurs when a word is meant to reflect a specific noise or sound. The highlighted words are examples of onomatopoeia.  
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Summarize Thoreau's primary purpose in his chapter "Sounds." What major theme(s) are present in this chapter? Provide at least two examples to support your explanation.  
Pay attention to Thoreau's diction, particularly in this famous chapter titled "Solitude." For example, what connotations do you associate with the word "delicious"? Why do you think Thoreau chose to include this adjective in this opening line? 
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How can Thoreau tell if visitors have come to his cabin in the woods? 
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Which of the following statements is true of Thoreau's opinions of solitude?  
What do you think of this line? Have you ever felt lonely when in the presence of others, even friends?  
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What "company" does Thoreau have in the mornings when "nobody calls"? 
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Thoreau spoke in detail about his preference for solitude in this chapter. Consider Thoreau's attitude towards isolation in contrast with the following excerpt from Jodi Picoult's novel My Sister's Keeper: “Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them." How are Picoult and Thoreau's attitudes towards solitude different? How might Thoreau respond to this quote from Picoult? Provide at least once example from Thoreau's text to support your analysis.  
What do you think of Thoreau's desire to have enough space between himself and his guest in this context? Do you share similar attitudes when socializing with friends? 
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Why does the Canadian wood chopper interest Thoreau?  
Observe all of the comparisons here. Can you find multiple metaphors and similes in the highlighted lines? 
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What is stylistically unique about the structure and content in the highlighted lines? 
Thus far the wood chopper and Thoreau sound like they have similar proclivities for nature and solitude; however, based on the evidence here, we can infer that Thoreau is a much more avid and diverse reader than his friend.  
Thoreau spent a number of pages on an analysis of his wood chopping friend; however, he only briefly mentions helping a runaway slave in this quick paragraph. Do you think Thoreau is simply being humble here? Why does he not go into greater detail about his abolitionist efforts? 
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Which word best summarizes Thoreau's attitude towards the "doctors, lawyers" and "uneasy housekeepers" who visited when he was out? 
While this chapter is going to literally describe Thoreau's experience in planting beans, consider the more symbolic or metaphorical lessons he learns from this experience. Consider the "deeper" meaning of this chapter that lies beyond the literal words.  
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Which of the following words could accurately replace the word "intimate" as it is used in the highlighted sentence? 
As you probably recognize in this chapter so far, Thoreau's mind wanders quite a bit as he works in his bean field. Where do your thoughts travel when you engage in repetitive potentially mundane tasks like Thoreau's gardening? Do you think this type of narration is relatable? 
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Pause for a moment to consider one of Thoreau's purposes in "The Bean Field" chapter. What message does Thoreau want to highlight in this section of his text? Consider both literal and figurative messages.  
Once again, Thoreau decides to provide the reader with a detailed account of his spending and costs of living. Why do you think he includes this here? 
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Identify one of Thoreau's criticisms of farming as stated in the highlighted paragraph. 
What does Thoreau ultimately believe we should learn and accept from nature, as evidenced by the squirrels in this final paragraph? 
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What do the details suggest about Thoreau's behavior when he visited the village? 
Do you recall the essay "Civil Disobedience" from earlier in this text? He wrote that essay after being arrested; it is this very arrest in the highlighted lines that resulted in his going to jail and subsequently writing "Civil Disobedience." 
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What does Thoreau suggest is the "one way" to truly taste a huckleberry?  
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Based on Thoreau's statements in the highlighted lines, which of the following is true regarding Walden Pond? 
Thoreau admits that Walden Pond is not the most large or impressive pond; however, he does find it beautiful. View the map below to get an idea of Walden Pond's general size; also, view the map key to see the other frequently visited areas that Thoreau has discussed in the text thus far.  (This annotation contains an image)
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How can Thoreau detect that someone has been near the pond? 
Notice how Thoreau describes ice as a "luxury." Do you think that we often overlook commonplace objects as being ordinary instead of luxuries? 
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Using at least three examples from the text, analyze Thoreau's overall tone in this chapter "The Ponds." Does his tone here differ from other chapters? If so, how? 
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According to the context of the sentence, what does Thoreau state is "earth's eye"? 
Notice the imagery and sensory language here. Sensory language strives to appeal to all five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound. Does Thoreau highlight each of the senses in this paragraph? 
Do you think Walden Pond still has the same amount of active wildlife today? Why or why not? 
Notice the personal pronoun "your"in the highlighted sentence. Do you think this word choice helps Thoreau connect with you as a reader? 
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What troubles Thoreau about Flint's pond? 
Read the following free verse poem by Amy Lowell, an American writer (from New England) who lived from 1874-1925. Consider her remarks on nature in contrast to Thoreau. Her poem is titled "The Pond": "Cold, wet leaves Floating on moss-coloured water And the croaking of frogs— Cracked bell-notes in the twilight." 
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Refer to the previous annotation to read Amy Lowell's poem "The Pond." Compare and contrast Thoreau's remarks in his chapter "The Ponds" to Lowell's brief free verse poem "The Pond." How are their depictions and styles different? How are they similar? Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis.  
According to Norse mythology, "Valhalla" is a hall in Asgard that is ruled by the god Odin. (This annotation contains an image)
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How does Thoreau establish his comparison in the highlighted line? 
What do you think of Thoreau's attitude towards John here? 
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What word might accurately replace the word "bending" in the line "bending my steps again"? 
What do you think was the purpose of this chapter, "Baker Farm"? 
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Which of the following is true regarding Thoreau's attitude towards eating animals? 
Is this "introduction to the forest" still practiced in our society today? 
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What is true of Thoreau's dietary opinions? 
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Based on what you have learned about Thoreau's attitudes and opinions thus far, why might he argue that "water is the only drink for a wise man"? 
What does Thoreau mean by the highlighted text? Have you ever experienced this? 
Notice the repetition and anaphora here. Why does Thoreau employ such stylistic devices in these line? 
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Summarize Thoreau's central arguments in "Higher Laws." What is his purpose in this chapter?  
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What best describes the conversation between "Poet" and "Hermit"? 
Thoreau's “conversation” here focuses on the “hermit” (Thoreau) and “poet” (his friend). What does the “poet” focus on versus the “hermit”? Why does Thoreau include this conversation?  
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What does Thoreau mean by "retired" in the highlighted sentence?  
Do you recall Thoreau's famous statement, "Still we live meanly, like ants" from Chapter Two of Walden? He brings up this metaphor once again here. What message is he intending to deliver about human nature?  
Thoreau is about to describe an interaction with the loon in detail. Below is an image of this type of loon. (This annotation contains an image)
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Consider this section about Thoreau and the loon. Why might he include this description in this chapter? How does the chapter's title "Brute Neighbors" tie in with this section of the text? Provide at least two examples to support your analysis.  

Homework #23

The "clusters" Thoreau refers to here is likely a cluster of grapes. 
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What does Thoreau's descriptions of color and nature signify?  
A "fortnight" is equal to fourteen days. 
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To what is Thoreau referring when he says "it took many weeks of steady blowing to accomplish it"? 
What is Thoreau's meaning and message in the highlighted passage? 
What a lovely line of writing here! What does Thoreau mean when he says he wants to "keep a bright fire both within my house and within my breast"? 
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Why does Thoreau find wood to be so "remarkable"? 
Why do you think cooking was no longer "a poetic" process?  
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Summarize the main points and events in this chapter, "House Warming." What event or moment stands out as being the most significant or meaningful to you personally? Provide at least three examples to support your summary and explanation.  
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What does Thoreau mean when he says "for human society" in the context of this line?  
Do you ever feel a bit more gloomy in the wintertime? Imagine how Thoreau might be feeling here, living in almost total isolation, in the middle of a long winter in the woods. How would you feel in this situation?  
Don't forget that as you're reading through this section, these descriptions of the people and places in the woods are all from Thoreau's memory. The places he is visiting have changed over time, but he will often describe the way they once were.  
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Which of the following syntactical devices does Thoreau employ in the highlighted lines?  
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Choose the best summary of what Thoreau ponders in these rhetorical questions.  
Examine the connotations here. How do you think Thoreau feels about being alone in the woods with "seldom...a "visitor"? 
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According to Thoreau, what is the primary source of motivation for a poet's actions?  
What does Thoreau mean in the highlighted sentence?  
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What does Thoreau use to describe the sounds in the woods in the highlighted text? 
This translates, from Latin, to "language vernacular." Vernacular is a word that refers to everyday speech or use of language.  
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Refer to the previous annotation to read Walt Whitman's poem, "Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun." Identify Whitman's attitude towards nature compared to that of Thoreau's. In what ways are their attitudes similar or different? Provide at least one example from each text to support your analysis.  
Read the excerpt from following poem, "Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun" by famed American poet Walt Whitman. Consider Whitman's attitudes towards nature in contrast to Thoreau's.  (This annotation contains a link)
Have you noticed Thoreau's use of the Latin names for the animals throughout these chapters? Why do you think he includes such details? 
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To whom or what does the "her" refer in the highlighted lines?  
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What does Thoreau mean in the highlighted aphorism?  
Notice how Thoreau often does not capitalize the first word after an exclamation point (exclamatory sentence). Why do you think he makes this stylistic choice?  
Loch Fyne, shown in the image below, is the longest sea Loch located on the western side of Scotland.  (This annotation contains an image)
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Review the highlighted lines. Based on Thoreau's comments here, with which statement would he likely agree?  
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Review the highlighted lines. Based on Thoreau's comments here, with which statement would he likely agree?  
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Summarize Thoreau's central lesson here. With what larger theme(s) does this paragraph connect?  
Make note of the highlighted sentence. Thoreau is about to lead you to a larger life lesson. Can you identify what message he is striving to deliver? 
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Why are "a hundred men at work" at Walden Pond here? 
How is it that "sweltering inhabitants" of far off places "drink at (Thoreau's) well"? 
Notice the title here. We are now entering into yet another new season. Keep in mind that Thoreau remained at Walden Pond for two years and two months, so this signifies his second spring at the pond.  
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What does Thoreau mean with the use of the word "exhausted" in the context of this sentence?  
According to the Hebrew Bible, Methuselah is the oldest living man (who, according to The Bible, reportedly lived until he was 969 years old). 
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How does Thoreau highlight the arrival of spring in the highlighted paragraph?  
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Refer to the previous annotation to read E.E. Cummings' poem. Compare Cummings and Thoreau's attitudes towards spring. How does each author utilize literary techniques (sensory language, diction, etc) to express his ideas about spring? Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis.  
Read the following poem "Spring is Like a Perhaps Hand" by American author E.E. Cummings. Consider his attitude towards spring in contrast with Thoreau's. (This annotation contains a link)
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What is Thoreau attempting to describe in the highlighted, italicized line? 
Famed American Author Maya Angelo once stated "We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Consider Thoreau's detailed descriptions throughout this text. How do you think he would respond to this statement? 
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How does Thoreau highlight the description of the hawk? 
What do you think of Thoreau's word choice of "tonic" here? What does it tell you about his attitude towards Nature? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.3
Based on the highlighted line, as well as what you know about Thoreau from Walden, why do you think he "finally left" at this time?  
Notice the title of this final chapter. Look for Thoreau's closing and culminating thoughts as you reach the close of this text.  
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This paragraph highlights some of Thoreau's most famous lines and aphorisms. Summarize Thoreau's main ideas here. Which of his lessons most personally connects to your own life or beliefs?  
Here is another famous aphorism. Have you heard "versions" or interpretations of this saying in your own life?  
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How does Thoreau structure and present his arguments in these highlighted paragraphs? 
What does Thoreau mean when he says "This alone wears well"? 
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Review the highlighted paragraph. What does Thoreau seem to value above all else?  
Why does Thoreau italicize "Great Men"? What is he striving to emphasize? 
Quiz 2 
The names "John or Jonathon" are intended to refer to "any man" or an "average person." 

Cape Cod

Cape Cod is located on the easternmost part of Massachusetts, stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean. View Cape Cod on the map provided below. (This annotation contains an image)
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What is inside the boxes that Thoreau describes in this paragraph? 
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Why is Thoreau not overwhelmed with grief at the sight of the dead?  
Watch the following video on point of view & cultural perspective. Do you think Thoreau's cultural perspective shapes his attitude towards death? How might another cultural perspective view the concept of death differently?  (This annotation contains a video)
Why does Thoreau see a connection between the passengers of the St. John to Christopher Columbus?  
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What is the purpose of the poem in this section of the text? What ideas or feelings is Thoreau aiming to express?  
The highlighted line is a sentence fragment (an incomplete sentence). Authors will often include fragments to achieve a specific effect or purpose. What might be Thoreau's purpose in including the highlighted fragment here? 
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Which of the following recurring themes from Thoreau's works is evident in the highlighted paragraph?  
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What does Thoreau imply with the line "he was evidently too knowing for them"? 
Thoreau references a number of different beaches and destinations in Cape Cod throughout this text. To gain more insight into the region, visit the following website to view an updated map with pictures of the region:  (This annotation contains a link)
Consider the specific details that Thoreau provides both here and throughout this text. Do you think these details suggest that he is genuinely interested in the lives and experiences of those he meets? 
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Why does Thoreau describe the land as "barren-looking"? 
"Ossian" is likely an allusion to the narrator of a series of Scottish epic poems published by the poet James Macpherson (1760). 
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Take a moment to consider Thoreau's point of view in "Cape Cod." How does his first person narration of these encounters shape your understanding of the events in this text? How might the text be different from another point of view?  
"Quid loquar?" translates to "why speak?" 
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Why does Thoreau state that "We were a rare haul for him"? 
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Which words suggest that Thoreau was surprised by the sounds of the sea? 
Why do you think Thoreau includes these details and this exchange?  
Observe the simile here comparing the "old woman" to "a young girl." What does this suggest about her behavior? 
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What do you think is Thoreau's primary purpose in writing "Cape Cod"? Provide at least two examples to support your explanation.  

Correspondence: Selections from Thoreau's Letters to H.G.O. Blake

The details here suggest that we, as readers, will be provided with even greater personal insight into Thoreau's thoughts through the letters to his close friend. What topics do you think Thoreau will address in these correspondences?  
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What does Thoreau primarily question in the highlighted paragraph? 
Notice Thoreau's frequent use of rhetorical questions. Do you see them serving a different purpose in these letters than in his previous texts? Why or why not? 
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What does Thoreau likely mean by the phrase "How shall we earn our bread"? 
What do you think Thoreau means by the line "Let our meanness be our footstool, not our cushion"? 
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What tone or attitude is expressed in the opening lines of this letter? 
As you progress through these letters, consider Thoreau's tone and voice. Have you noticed any change in his writing style or tone considering that these letters are written for the audience of a close friend?  
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What does Thoreau mean by the line "I am preaching... to bare walls"? 
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How does Thoreau express his ideas in the highlighted line? 
What is your reaction to Thoreau's thoughts here? What do you think he's trying to express? 
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Focus on this brief letter from April 10, 1853. What is the primary focus of this letter? Summarize the central idea and purpose in the letter.  
Thoreau only includes one sentence that does not end in a question mark here. Why do you think he clusters so many questions together in this paragraph?  
What is the effect of this comparison? Why might Thoreau compare "sending his thoughts" to Napoleon Bonaparte's "sending his horsemen in the Red Sea"? 
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What do these highlighted questions suggest about Thoreau's correspondence with this friend? 
Do you recall Ktaadn (Katahdin) from earlier in this anthology? As a reminder, it is the highest mountain in Maine.  (This annotation contains an image)
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To whom or what does "him" refer in the highlighted line? 
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What feeling is evoked with the repetition and punctuation of the lines "come to Concord!" 
This is a rather interesting detail... "Whitman" refers to "Walt Whitman," one of America's most famous poets, pictured below. What is your reaction to learning that these famous writers, Whitman and Thoreau, interacted with each other? (This annotation contains an image)
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What does Thoreau suggest about the banks with his statement "those very banks are found to be mere reeds shaken by the wind"? 
John Ruskin, pictured below, was a famous art critic during the Victorian era. He was also an artist and author, writing on diverse subjects such as architecture, literature, botany, and political economy.  (This annotation contains an image)
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Summarize, in order, the ideas in this highlighted paragraph. What is the primary focus or meaning in this highlighted section? 
What do you think of these lines? Do you think Thoreau is feeling lonely or isolated?  
Thoreau describes visiting Ralph Waldo Emerson's house while visiting with other famous writers. What do you picture took place at these gatherings? Do you find it interesting that such prominent figures in American literature all interacted with one another during this time? 
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Which literary device is present in the highlighted line?  
What do you think Thoreau means by the word "rustier" here? 
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How does Thoreau emphasize his ideas in the highlighted lines? 
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Why does Thoreau likely find the mountain houses, such as the Crawford House, unappealing? 
Analyze the diction here, paying attention to the connotations. What mood or tone does the language project in the highlighted text?  
Why does Thoreau believe he would be a poor companion to someone? 
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Reflect on the overall correspondence between Thoreau and H.G.O. Blake. Based on what you read throughout the letters, what do you think was Thoreau's motivation for writing these letters? What benefit do you think Thoreau gained through this correspondence? 

The Last Days of John Brown, 1860

Observe the diction in the opening line of this essay. What words stand out to highlight Thoreau's praise and opinion of John Brown? 
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What primary question does Thoreau pose in the highlighted lines? 
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What does Thoreau mean with his use of the word "constitution" as it is used in the highlighted line?  
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau's friend and fellow transcendental writer, once wrote, "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages... In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried." Do you see a similar philosophy echoed in Thoreau's highlighted line?  
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Refer to the previous annotation to read John Brown's last speech. Compare Brown's speech to Thoreau's "The Last Days of John Brown." Consider the overall logic and structure of each text. How does each author construct his argument? Provide at least two examples from each text to support your analysis.  
One month prior to his execution, John Brown gave a speech in a courtroom in Charleston, West Virginia, in defense of his role in seizing the armory at Harper's Ferry. Read Brown's last speech, provided below, and consider how Thoreau might respond to his attitude and statements.  (This annotation contains a link)

Walking, 1863

A thesis statement is typically one to two sentences that states the focus of a piece of writing. Although thesis statements are not always in the beginning of a text, Thoreau's thesis (primary focus and purpose) is most likely in these highlighted lines. Watch the following video on how to write a thesis statement to gain more insight into identifying thesis statements as you read an author's work (while also gaining insight into how you can improve your own thesis statements in your writing).  (This annotation contains a video)
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Why does Thoreau think that "they (the mechanics and shopkeepers) deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago"? 
A pun is a play on words that typically highlights the multiple possible meanings of a word. Do you see a pun in the highlighted lines? (Hint: look at the italicized word) 
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What is the best explanation as to why Thoreau believes "you must walk like a camel." 
Why does Thoreau not typically "travel" on roads or highways? Read the following poem "The Road Not Taken" by the American poet Robert Frost. What similarities can you identify between the two authors' attitudes?  (This annotation contains a link)
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Refer to the previous annotation to read "The Road Not Taken." Although Frost speaks of metaphorical "roads" in life, how do his ideas and attitudes compare with Thoreau's? Consider Thoreau's other works in your response.  
Why do you think Thoreau included a poem in this section of the text? How does this poem help shape the tone of the essay? 
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Based on the language and structure of the highlighted excerpt, which of the following can you assume to be true?  
According to Greek mythology, the Lethe is one of the five rivers of Hell (Hades).  
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According to the context of this line, who or what has "painted the whole picture with brighter and more costly colors"?  
"Adam in paradise" is an allusion to the story of Adam and Eve from The Bible. Why do you think Thoreau includes this allusion here? What is his message? 
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Identify one of the ways in which Thoreau structures and organizes his ideas in the highlighted paragraphs. 
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Consider Thoreau's comments on "the jewel that dazzled me." What does this paragraph reveal about his attitude towards the value of land? Have you seen this attitude evolve over the course of his essays? (Note: consider any previous essay from this anthology in your response).  
"Tartary" (a term from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century) refers to the land of northern and central Asia, spanning from the Caspian Sea and Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.  (This annotation contains an image)
Do you agree with Thoreau's observation in the highlighted text? 
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Based on Thoreau's comments in the highlighted paragraph, with which statement would he likely agree?  
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Which of the following rhetorical devices does Thoreau use to express his ideas in the highlighted lines?  
Analyze this metaphor. What message is Thoreau striving to send in these lines?  
According to Greek mythology, Cadmus was the first king of Thebes. Ancient Greeks credit Cadmus with introducing the Phoenician alphabet (which was later used to create the Greek alphabet). 
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Based on his argument in the highlighted paragraph, which of the following qualities would Thoreau most likely celebrate?  
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Which of the following words from the highlighted paragraph evokes the most positive connotations?  
What significance does this family hold for Thoreau? What does he mean by this highlighted line? 
Notice the imagery in the highlighted lines. Does Thoreau's diction and language effectively evoke a clear image here? 
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Summarize the primary purpose and central idea(s) from "Walking." Then, identify what stands out to you, personally, as being the most significant moment in this text. Provide at least one specific example from the essay to support your analysis.  

Life Without Principle, 1863

Do you recall the video annotation on thesis statements from the essay "Walking"? Do you think the highlighted line indicates a potential thesis to this essay? If not, continue to look for Thoreau's thesis as you read.  
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What does Thoreau imply about the state of employment in these lines?  
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Choose the best summary of Thoreau's statements in the highlighted lines.  
What does Thoreau criticize here?  
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How does Thoreau emphasize his points in the highlighted paragraph?  
William Howitt was an English writer and explorer who, at one point in his career, wrote about the environmental devastation of the natural countryside during the Austrialian gold rush of the 1800's. Speaking on this, Howitt describes, "we had quietness and greenness, and the most deliciously cool water, sweet and clear. But this quietness and greenness cannot last. Prospectors will quickly follow us. We foresee that all these bushy banks of the creek will be rapidly and violently invaded. The hop-scrubs will be burnt, the bushes in and on the creek cleared away, the trees on the slope felled, and the ground torn up for miles around. The crystalline water will be made thick and foul with gold-washing; and the whole will be converted into a scene of desolation and discomfort.”  (This annotation contains an image)
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Pause for a moment to consider Thoreau's purpose in writing this essay. What main point(s) is he striving to emphasize? Provide at least three examples from the text to support your explanation.  
What does Thoreau mean by the line "surface meets surface" here?  
Consider Thoreau's argument here. Do you ever think about how your mind might be "burdened" by "insignificant" things?  
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According to the highlighted paragraph, how does Thoreau believe we should treat our minds?  
Observe Thoreau's use of rhetorical questions in succession. Do you think this structure helps to emphasize his argument?  
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How does Thoreau summarize the argument in the highlighted paragraph?  
Visit the following link to review a brief summary of "Transcendentalism." Can you identify some of Thoreau's transcendental beliefs throughout his writing? (This annotation contains a link)
Quiz 3 
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Refer to the previous annotation to read the article on Transcendentalism. Identify how Thoreau has expressed transcendental ideas throughout The Portable Thoreau. Provide at least two examples to support your explanation.