Symbols in Walden

Symbols Examples in Walden:

Economy 1

"I set up the frame of my house..."   (Economy)

Thoreau considers building his own house the fundamental symbol of self-reliance. He initially works in solitude, enjoying nature's beauty and singing while he works. He takes great pleasure in being able to repurpose James Collins's dilapidated home, and Thoreau believes that this simple home will be a place where he will be able to better comprehend and pursue a good, meaningful life.

"and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise..."   (Where I Lived, and What I Lived For)

Notice how Thoreau immediately describes this morning ritual as a religious exercise, which actually has two meanings. "Religious exercise" can mean rigid or consistently planned; however, since water is involved, there is an aspect of baptism or rebirth in his sentiment. Thoreau has repeatedly talked about the importance of self-reliance, and here he compared this new life at Walden Pond to something like a religious conversion.

"Independence Day, or the Fourth of July, 1845..."   (Where I Lived, and What I Lived For)

Thoreau's choosing to move to Walden Pond on Independence Day has symbolic meaning (which was perhaps intentional on his part even though he says it was accidental). The day celebrates the independence of the United States, and so it is also the day Thoreau becomes self-reliant and one of nature's inhabitants.