Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Winter Animals

Chapter 15 is called Winter Animals. In it, Thoreau observes the animals at Walden, writing down the observations like scientific findings, and adding his own stories too. Thoreau likes the animals; they are peaceful and tranquil. Animals, like nature are a part of good transcendentalism. Thoreau uses the Latin classification names in paragraphs 5 and 14. “Lepus Americanus” “Lepus, levipes” “Sciurus Hudsonius”. These add to the credibility and scientific edge that Thoreau puts into his chapter. Thoreau, although young, he lived in Walden when he was 28 till 30, wants to be taken seriously.Thoreau uses many onomatopoeias in his writing. “Hoo hoo hoo” (Thoreau) “Day day day” (Thoreau). Clearly, Thoreau observed the animals not only by sight, but by sound. Thoreau’s purpose in this piece was to talk about his encounters with the animals, and how they are naturally transcendental. “What is a country without rabbits and partridges? They are among the most simple and indigenous animal products; ancient and venerable families known to antiquity as to modern times; of the very hue and substance of Nature, nearest allied to leaves and to the ground- and to one another; it is either winged or it is legged. It is hardly as if you had seen a wild creature when a rabbit or a partridge bursts away, only a natural one, as much to be expected as rustling leaves” (Thoreau). Real animals don’t stand around, they dart under shelters. Any animal that comes in contact is not a true animal. Animals listen to their instincts; they don’t really think for themselves. Thoreau does not always say the animals are perfect examples of transcendentalism, though. “Sometimes I heard the foxes as they ranged over the snow-crust, in moonlight nights, in search of a partridge or other game, barking raggedly and demonically like forest dogs, as if laboring with some anxiety, or seeking expression, struggling for light and to be outright and run freely in the streets; for if we take the ages into our account, may there not be a civilization going on among brutes as well as men?” (Thoreau). Of course, the foxes are animals, not people, but they still express the same action of trying to be something they are not. The audience Thoreau aims at are people he thinks do not see the full greatness of the winter animals. “The partridge and the rabbit are still sure to thrive, like true natives of the soil, whatever revolutions occur. If the forest is cut off, the sprouts and bushes which spring up afford them concealment, and they become more numerous than ever. That must be a poor country indeed that does not support a hare” (Thoreau). A problem Thoreau has with society are people cutting down the forest. He is somewhat insulting those who do, trying to convince his audience to do otherwise. Thoreau comes in contact with people in Walden, the hunters. While Thoreau wants lives a mainly solitude life in Walden, he does talk to the hunters. Survival is a natural instinct, and hunting animals is the basic form of food. To Thoreau, the hunters are touching on their inner selves, not being artificial. And for that, Thoreau can appreciate them, just like he appreciates the winter animals. The title Winter Animals is not very creative, but simplicity better serves transcendentalism than lying to make an interesting title. What sets the title Winter Animals apart from just calling the chapter Animals, is Thoreau sees an important difference in the animals apparent in the winter season. Rabbits and foxes and certain birds stay in Walden all year round, while other animals fly south or migrate when the weather is too cold. Thoreau wants to address the natural, true animals of Walden, not the ones who live there when the weather suits them.

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