Sunday, September 18, 2011


     Thoreau's writing is clearly political.  He has a vision of what America should be and he wants the men involved in government to also see his vision.  In part one Thoreau starts off by clearly stating his opinion on government.  He believes that it gets too involved in the lives of the people and that more than anything it is a tradition (paragraph two).  This reminded me of the discussions we've been having in class and the question that keeps coming up: What are traditions and can we break away from them?  Something I thought was interesting was in paragraph ten when Thoreau is discussing what he thinks truly makes a patriot.  My favorite quote from this section was "there is but little virtue in the action of masses of men."  Here, Thoreau is highlighting the importance of the individual and how they perceive the world around them (which includes the American government).  In paragraph thirteen he continues this idea with pleading his readers to be your own man!  Thoreau argues here that there is no virtue in being the person who is sitting on the fence.  Make up your mind and do something about it!  I think our politicians could learn a lot from his writing.  So often we have men and women in government who are too afraid to point fingers and step on toes that they just sit back and watch and do nothing.  That is not what makes up government and that is not what this nation needs.
     In part two, Thoreau starts off by asking his audience questions in paragraph one trying to get them to really think about the government that they so easily trust which I think is a good writing strategy.  He continues his argument to be your own person (paragraph five), and goes on to describe his idea of a peaceable revolution (paragraph nine) which I found to be very interesting.  In paragraph seven he makes a direct plea to Abolitionists to be bold and radical in their beliefs and start taking action to make their beliefs come true.  He also makes a biblical reference in paragraph ten line six which I think is another valuable writing strategy because the population that he was writing this to were for the most part a very religious society.  I think his reference to the bible added validity to his argument and made people really pay attention to what he had to say.
     In part three, Thoreau discusses what it was like to be in prison.  In paragraph thirteen he compares America with parents which I found to be an interesting comparison.  I think what he was trying to say there was that we must measure respect with individuality.  In paragraph sixteen he refers to the "Defender of the Constitution."  Who is he referring to there?  I really enjoyed paragraph eighteen.  I think the first sentence was a bold one to be sure.  Above all, Thoreau believes that the people are what make America great not the government.  If the people of America would simply stand up and respect themselves, America and the government would take care of itself.


  1. I do agree with about this being a political writing. I said the same thing in my blog. I missed the biblical reference you mentioned. I'll have to go back and read that.

  2. Is it possible to be in government AND "point fingers and step on toes"? When politicians do point fingers, what are they doing it for?

  3. When some politicians do point fingers and step on toes, I think they are mostly doing so because they want the focus and attention taken off of them. They do not want to have any responsibility or blame put on them so they shift it onto others.

  4. I have to agree with you, about him being an political writer. That is why he was soo infleuntial in the Romantic Era.