Essay on The Night Throe Spent in Jail

874 Words Feb 19th, 2013 4 Pages
The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail Study Questions

1. Thoreau has a unique perspective on even something like the alphabet. What is that perspective? How does it relate to Emerson’s ideas about conformity?

Thoreau believes that you shouldn’t be forced to say the alphabet one particular way. Say it backwards, or start in the middle. Emerson had said, “Cast conformity behind you.” Conformity is doing things just like everyone else. Obviously, Thoreau doesn’t do things like everyone else.

2. What does Thoreau teach Bailey? How does he teach him?

Thoreau teaches Bailey how to write. He teaches him by relating the shape of the letters to objects familiar to Bailey—such as a beanpole or a comb. Obviously, this is a
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8. How does John die?

He cuts himself with a rusty razor, leading to lockjaw (tetanus).

9. Ellen tries to comfort Thoreau with his own words about living and being. What had Thoreau said? How does he react to her understanding?

Thoreau had said when you transcend reality, you stop merely living and BE. Ellen suggests that John might no long be living, but he continues to BE. Thoreau realizes that she really does understand what transcendentalism is.

10. What will be Thoreau’s job in the Emerson household? How will he be paid?

He will serve as a handyman. In return, the Emersons will lend him a piece of land by Walden pond to build a house and conduct his “experiment.”

11. Why does Sam arrest Thoreau?

Thoreau has not paid his taxes.

12. Why won’t Thoreau do as society wants him to?

He knows his taxes are being used to support the war with Mexico, which is mostly about slavery. He does not support slavery so he feels it is wrong to allow his money to support something he does not believe in.

13. Describe the relationship between Edward and Thoreau.

Edward and Thoreau grow close, and Edward expresses the wish that Henry was his father. Henry feels the same way, but he doesn’t say it aloud.

14. Who is Williams? Why does he also have the first name of Henry?

Williams is a runaway slave that Thoreau meets while he is hoeing his bean patch. Williams has no first

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