Walden by Henry David Thoreau

579 Words2 Pages
In perhaps his greatest reflection, Walden, Thoreau states “be it life or death, we crave only reality.” The excerpt from pages 49 to 50 focuses on the quest for this elusive truth. Serving both as a call to action as well as an instructional guide, this passage takes readers through a cleansing of all the superfluities of life. He laments how life has corrupted the natural state of purity he was born with, but with intellect as his primary tool, he has tried to truly find himself. In this passage, Thoreau instructs his readers to discover their reality, and from this point, build a foundation to begin their own journey of self-discovery. Although it can be considered a descriptive piece, this passage aims at persuasion if not outright conversion. To remove the conventional distance between author and audience, and to connect with his reader, Thoreau uses the first person. Repeating “Let us” instead of “you must,” he establishes a conversation instead of a lecture (49). In addition, Thoreau relies on pathos to achieve his rhetorical aims and get people to cleanse their life. Phrases like “sweet edge dividing your heat,” “rattle in our throats and feel cold in the extremities” attack the readers’ senses, and sweeping ideas such as “future ages,” “life,” “death,” and “eternity” lend the passage emotional appeal (49, 50). Thoreau also creates a stipulative definition of “reality,” giving a generally clinical word a more emotional meaning (49). Rhetorical questions such as “Why
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