Where i lived and what i lived for

Words: 601-700

Skills: Compare and Contrast Figurative Language Theme

Grades: 10th 11th 12th

Topics: Political Writings

Genres: Journal / Diary Opinion

Lexile Range: 1060L - 1290L

Lexile Measure: 1240L

CCSS: Reading: Informational Text

Themes:

Where I Lived, and What I Lived For


by Henry David Thoreau from Walden

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a noted American writer, philosopher, and essayist. His 1854 book, "Walden," explores his experiment in living a simplified life in the woods as a way to explore his inner self. He lived in the woods for two years. This passage reflects upon his selection of a place to live and why he wanted to live simply. Students will read the passage and write their thoughts on what some of Thoreau's statements mean.

Reading Comprehension Passage

Where I Lived, and What I Lived For

by Henry David Thoreau from Walden
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a noted American writer, philosopher, and essayist. His 1854 book, Walden, explores his experiment in living a simplified life in the woods as a way to explore his inner self. He lived in the woods for two years. This passage reflects upon his selection of a place to live and why he wanted to live simply.

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We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour. If we refused, or rather used up, such paltry information as we get, the oracles would distinctly inform us how this might be done.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy him forever."

Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men; like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness. Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail. In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live, if he would not founder and go to the bottom and not make his port at all, by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion.

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. Compare the difference in Thoreau's experiment in the woods with someone today "living off the grid." Would the reasons be the same or different? Would living off the grid today allow for more time to "live deep"?







2.  What do you think Thoreau means when he says he wants to "live deliberately"?







3. Explain what you think Thoreau's simile "we live meanly, like ants" means.