Would Walden Have Been a Better Book if Thoreau had Supplied More Background Information on His Life

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, has been one of the most confusing autobiographies I have ever read. I have read more than quite a few autobiographies during this school year; some were incredibly intriguing and interesting, others were works of literary art, and some were downright confusing. But Walden, by far, has been the most confusing autobiography I have read so far. To begin with Thoreau constantly contradicts himself in the autobiography. If he makes a point in the book probably somewhere in the chapter he will contradict that point. This is incredibly irritating to read, and also very confusing. Also Walden is not exactly a traditional autobiography, it does not really contain details on Thoreau’s background, it only contains details on his life when he lived on Walden pond which was a pretty short period of time in his life. But if Thoreau had supplied more background information on his life in the book, would his book have been a better autobiography?

To make this answer for the question above short: no, Walden would have not been a better book if Thoreau had supplied more background information on his life. Why do I think this? First of all Walden is not a traditional autobiography. What I mean by a traditional autobiography is that, a traditional autobiography contains the story of a person’s life from day one, to the time that the person is writing the autobiography, which is usually the end of a person’s life. Walden, on the other hand is an autobiography that documents Thoreau’s life on Walden pond, which is a pretty short period of Thoreau’s life, only around two years. Thoreau only wrote his autobiography to share about his life on Walden pond, not to share the rest of his life story.

Also to note, Thoreau did a pretty confusing job on recounting his life on Walden pond. He didn’t provide a whole lot of information on his life on Walden pond, and instead mainly wrote about unrelated points that contradicted each other. Overall the message Thoreau wanted to convey was very unclear in Walden. So if Thoreau had included some background information on his life, I would assume that the book would probably be just as confusing, from what I have read so far.

In conclusion, the book Walden, would not have been a better book if Thoreau had supplied some background information on his life. The reason(s) why I believe this is because the book itself is just about Thoreau’s life on Walden pond(the title clearly states this), and not about his entire life story. Another reason why I believe the book would not be any better is the fact that Thoreau writes in a confusing style, which in short means that no matter how much background information he included, the book would most likely be still confusing. Hence these are the reasons why I believe the book would not be any better if Thoreau had included some background information on his life.

Was Thoreau Dependent on the Division of Labor While He was Living on Walden Pond

Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862), was a 19th century American philosopher and writer. His best known written work was his autobiography titled, Walden. Which was about his life when he “cut,” himself off from society; living a lifestyle independent from the division of labor(this only lasted for about two years). The way that Thoreau “cuts,” himself off from society was living in the woods surrounded by nature, by a pond. Even though he wanted to live independent from the division of labor he still was rather dependent on it, for these reasons which I will list below.

The first reason was the fact that Thoreau didn’t even own the property he resided on, it was actually a friend’s property, making him a squatter. Basically meaning he had depended on someone else to provide the land he would reside in. Even though he built the “hut,” that he lived in he still bought all the materials for the hut. Another thing to note was the fact that he had bought tools and supplies for this “experiment,’ to survive, meaning that again Thoreau had depended on someone, who was able to make those supplies or tools, to sell them to him. 

For food Thoreau decided to plant food on the property, but instead of getting dirty and planting his food all on his own he actually hired people to do some of the work for him. So long to cutting yourself off from society I guess. But to justify it he made it seem that he had done the work, which did not work well for him. On the note of being separate from society Thoreau was most definitely not completely cut off from society, he actually interacted and spent time with friends in town during this time, he even did this more than once during the week. Eventually a little after two years of living this way, twenty six months to be exact, Thoreau rather gave up and returned back to society. He began working for his family’s pencil business, which he did for the rest of his life, meaning that he relied on the division of labor for the rest of his life. He never returned back to the life of being separate from society ever again.

In short, Thoreau was very much dependent on the division of labor when he lived on Walden Pond, he actually depended on the division of labor his entire life. Even though throughout the book Thoreau constantly contradicts what he states he wants to do with what he actually does, his autobiography did very well. Because of how many times Thoreau contradicts himself I have a difficult time reading his book seriously, which makes it pretty difficult for me to understand why people liked this book so much. But with that being said these are the main reasons why Thoreau was dependent on the division of labor like everyone else.

How Could I Adopt Northup’s Technique of Using Contrasts

This week I finished the autobiography of Solomon Northup, which is titled 12 Years a Slave. This autobiography was mostly about Northup’s life as a slave for twelve years, after being kidnapped as a free black man. Northup before he had become a slave was a freeman in New York, and he had lived with his family. When he was kidnapped it took twelve years of toil and pain until he was rescued and set free. The autobiography itself that Northup wrote contains many contrasts, so many that it would probably take me months to note each one. Northup contrasted many things including, people, situations, etc. So how could I myself adopt Northup’s technique of using contrasts?

Before getting into this, why would I use contrasts in the first place? Contrasts are a pretty powerful literary tool, and in my opinion makes a narrative more interesting. Also in my life so far there have been quite a few instances that are worth contrasting to each other. For example maybe a contrast between two different people I know who played a role in my life, either negatively or positively. Basically I would use a contrast to make my autobiography more interesting.

Because I have now explained why I would use contrasts in my autobiography, here is an example of one of Northup’s powerful contrast’s. In Northup’s life as a slave he was owned by a few people. His first owner, named Ford was a just owner, who treated his slaves well. Northup’s last owner, named Epps, was the exact opposite of Ford. Epp’s was a terrible person who treated slaves as if they were less than animals. He was especially cruel to a slave named Patsey. Northup quite a few times in his autobiography contrasted cruel slave owners with just slave owners who treated their slaves well. He used Ford as an example of a just slave owner and Epps as an example of a cruel and evil slave owner. Even though this is only one example of Northup’s use of contrasts, I believe that this gets the point across that Northup’s autobiography was full of them.

So now, how could I adopt Northup’s technique of using contrasts? Well that is a pretty simple answer. The way I would adopt this method is by comparing situations, people, etc to each other. Of course I would have to find situations or people that are the opposite from other situations or people, but overall in my opinion it is not that difficult to adopt Northup’s method of using contrasts.

12 Years a Slave was one of the most interesting and insightful autobiographies I have read during this school year. The autobiography itself gave a great portrayal on slavery, and the evils of it. This was thanks to Northup’s powerful use of words, and literary devices including contrasts, which was the main topic of this essay. Overall I highly recommend reading this autobiography, for both educational and enjoyment purposes. 

Describe the Differences Between Northup’s Response to the Separation From His Children and Eliza’s Response to Separation From Her Children

12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup(1807-1863), is the rather well known and famous autobiography of Solomon Northup. Much later after the autobiography was published the book was adapted into a major film, which was titled the same as the book. This autobiography is about Northup’s experiences as a slave for 12 years, after being kidnapped as a freeman from New York, and being torn away from his family. In the autobiography Northup includes a very tragic story about a woman named Eliza who was also separated from her children. But what were the differences between Northup’s and Eliza’s response to being separated from their children.

Northup was born a freeman in New York; he had a wife and three children, and was pretty happy before being kidnapped. The reason why he was kidnapped was because he had taken a good offer to play the fiddle(which he was very skilled at). But unfortunately he fell ill during that time, and before he knew it he was in the chains of slavery. So because his kidnapping happened so unexpectedly he didn’t have the chance to notify or say goodbye to his family. This devastated him, but he got through it thanks to the thought that his wife and children were safe and sound in New York, and that maybe someday he would be able to reunite with them again. So in short knowing that his family was alright and what would happen to them was the thing that comforted him during this very difficult time.

Eliza on the other hand had lived on the plantation of a wealthy and just owner, who treated her well, and had also promised her freedom after his death. But her master had some issues with his wife, which eventually led to him throwing her out. But unfortunately Eliza was actually the slave of her owner’s ex-wife, and when the estate was being divided she fell under the control of the owner’s daughter’s husband. But when she went down to a city she was kidnapped along with her children back into slavery. Eliza worried and stressed over the fact that she would be sold separately from her children which was one of the great wrongs of slavery. Her worries came true sadly, and her children were going to be sold separately, which broke her. Even though she was able to say goodbye to her children, the harsh reality of the fact that she would never see them again, and that the fate of her children would forever be unknown broke her heart which eventually led to her death soon after.

In short, Northup and Eliza’s responses to be separated from their children are pretty different. Northup thought he was devastated to be torn away from his family so suddenly, was comforted by the fact that his family’s well being was safe, and that someday he would be able to reunite with them. Eliza on the other hand would most likely never know the fate of her children after being separated from them which crushed her so much that soon after she died from grief and a broken heart. Hence these were the differences between the responses of Northup and Eliza.

What was Thompson’s Theory of the Relationship Between Sanctions and Slavery

John Thompson(born 1812), was born a slave on a plantation in Maryland. During a few years of his childhood he lived with his parents and seven siblings. But some of his family members may have been sold, passed away, or he had been sold, hence why I only stated that he lived with his family as a whole for a few years. Later in Thompson’s life he managed to escape from slavery, which is why he eventually wrote an autobiography on how his life was as a slave, his beliefs, his escape, etc. Even though his autobiography did not become famous, or he became famous as an author, his autobiography is still a pretty valuable historic account on slavery. But because Thompson’s autobiography is also an account on his beliefs, what was his theory on the relationship between sanctions and slavery?

When Thompson was a slave he witnessed and experienced much hardship and pain. He included many of these stories, including some about slaves from other locations in his autobiography. Because of his life experiences as a slave he developed a “theory,” on the relationship between sanctions and slavery. This theory in my opinion came in two parts; negative, and positive sanctions.

Negative sanctions: Thompson stated often in his autobiography that he believed if a slave owner whipped their slaves in general, or whipped their slaves with no good reason would automatically reduce the productivity or work ethic of the slaves. This was due to the fact that the severe punishment would in fact cause resistance and resentment. Because the slave owner now had slaves who despised him, this would put the slave owner at risk, because who knows maybe a slave uprising may occur. Also because the slaves were now resentful and angry at the slave owner for his wrongdoings toward them, will in turn make the plantation a far less productive one. Also Thompson believed that if anyone treated a slave wrongly would get some form of severe punishment, which is shown in some of the life stories that are portrayed in the autobiography.

Positive sanctions: Thompson also stated the opposite of negative sanctions; positive sanctions. He believed and stated that if a slave owner did not whip or mistreat the slaves, that this will help raise the productivity and work ethic of the slaves. Which in turn would benefit the slave owner. Basically in short Thompson believed that if a slave owner was decent and treated his slaves decently, he would in turn receive some sort of benefit.

In conclusion, Thompson’s theory on the relationship between sanctions and slavery, came in two parts: negative sanctions and positive sanctions. In the part of negative sanctions, Thompson believed that if anyone mistreated a slave they would receive some form of severe punishment. But if a person treated a slave fairly, that person would receive some sort of benefit, hence the positive sanction. Thompson’s autobiography so far has been a rather interesting and insightful read on slavery, and the immorality of it.

What Would I do in My Autobiography That is Different From What Darwin Did?

Charles Darwin(1809-1882), was a very famous naturalist, geologist, and biologist; who is best known for his development of the science of evolution. Later in Darwin’s life he even wrote an autobiography, which I have been reading for the past week. But by reading and studying Darwin’s autobiography I have been able to build upon my knowledge of autobiographies and how I should attempt writing one. So what would I do in my autobiography that is different from what Darwin did?

Right from the beginning of reading Darwin’s autobiography I have noticed some issues with it. The major issue is the fact that the autobiography itself lacks a lot of detail. For example it lacks detail on his personal life, his family, his beliefs, and just in general just lacks a lot of important details. He does include a few details on his personal life but his autobiography mainly consists of his work life.  So the autobiography is pretty vague in general. So the first thing I would do differently is include some personal life details. Darwin’s autobiography is pretty bare when it comes to personal life details, maybe this was because his personal life was boring. But I would include more personal life details, not just my career life details because personal life details are a part of your life and if you want a complete and detailed autobiography it is important to include some of those details.

The second thing I would do differently than Darwin is including details on my family. Darwin includes barely anything on his family. The only thing he mentions about his family is that he has sisters and his mother passed away when he was young. Other than that the autobiography is purely on his work life. His work was his life, but an autobiography is about “you,” which includes your life outside of your career. Maybe he didn’t include those life details because people were only interested in his work, but he had already written many things on his work.

The third thing I would do differently is including my personal beliefs in my autobiography. Darwin did not say anything about his personal beliefs in his autobiography; which if he had would have made his autobiography much more interesting. Hence why I will include my personal beliefs and how they develop over the course of my life.

The fourth and final thing I would do differently is to not write my autobiography in the career orientated perspective. Darwin’s autobiography was written in the perspective of science, which left the book itself with a lot of missing details on his personal life, etc. An autobiography is technically supposed to be about your life, your personal life story, and not just about your career or work. 

Reading autobiographies is the best way to figure out how you would approach or attempt writing an autobiography. By reading quite a few autobiographies I have been able to figure out what to do and what not to do when I will write my future autobiography. Darwin’s autobiography has been a pretty good example of how I would not write an autobiography myself, and what to avoid when writing one(which I listed above). Hence these are the things I would do differently with my autobiography.

Should I Include Reconstructed Speeches in My Autobiography?

By reading this title, you may be thinking that the phrase “reconstructed speeches,” means I will be reconstructing and adding actual speeches with an audience that I participated in my future autobiography. This is not the case whatsoever. “Reconstructed speeches,” at least to the definition I will be following, means actual conversations I have had, which I will be reconstructing because I have partially forgotten the details of those conversations. But should I actually include reconstructed speeches in my future autobiography?

In novels I have read and movies and TV shows I have watched I have noticed that conversations or a dialogue play an important role in making those things entertaining. So including conversations in my autobiography even though I will most likely not be able to remember everything in that conversation will still be pretty beneficial in making my autobiography entertaining. 

But like a lot of things, including adding reconstructed speeches or conversations in my autobiography also has its drawbacks or issues with it. The first drawback is with the issue of the accuracy of the reconstructed conversations. I do not have a crazy accurate memory like some people. I am unable to remember every single detail of my life. So a lot of the conversations I have had are pretty fuzzy in my memory; I do remember the basic outline of those conversations, but those important smaller details aren’t there for me. This is where the reconstruction comes in but I do want my autobiography to be as accurate as possible, and those conversations I may be reconstructing and including in my autobiography may not be so accurate. 

So because I want a precise and accurate autobiography, which is also entertaining I will be avoiding adding any reconstructed speeches in my future autobiography. Even though reconstructed speeches will add an entertainment factor, the most important aspect of an autobiography is accurately telling my life story. So with that being said there are other ways to make your autobiography entertaining other than adding reconstructed speeches anyways.

In short, the answer to the question: “should I include reconstructed speeches in my autobiography?” Is no; like I stated above, the main goal with my autobiography is to be an accurate telling of my life story, and reconstructed speeches or conversations just do not cut it for me. If I did have an excellent memory or a photogenic one I would include reconstructed speeches, but because I do not, I will avoid adding reconstructed speeches to my autobiography, because of the risk of inaccuracy.

Who Would be My Target Audience for My Autobiography

When writing any form of literature, including an autobiography, you must always consider who would be the target audience, who would read it, and most importantly who to target when writing the piece. A lot of the time most literary works have more than one target audience which is pretty normal; this usually happens with fictional works. But what about the target audience(s), of autobiographies? Well this is more complicated, just because an autobiography is about your life, which narrows down the target audience. But if I decide someday to write an autobiography who would be my target audience for this book?

Well first of all I am still in my youth, not an adult, which means I haven’t done much when it comes to achievements. Also when I do write my autobiography if I do go ahead with it I will probably be elderly or a lot older than I am today, which means who knows what happened in my life until the point and age I will be when I am writing it. Like everyone I cannot see into my future. But that still does not mean that I do not have an idea on what my future may look like, which is what I will be going off of in this essay.

Moving on I also had to note that my target audience is rather limited in my idea of it, because of the reasons above. Also I am not a well known individual or “famous” whatsoever, and I do not plan on becoming “famous,” in the future at all, which further limits the target audience. So on that note my target audience for my autobiography is my family and friends. I mean if I am not well known or famous outside of my family, who would read my autobiography outside of my family and friends. So the logical route is choosing my family and friends, or the people who I am close to.

In short, one of the key things to writing an autobiography or any work of literature is figuring out who the target audience will be. A target audience could be a wide range or a narrow one of individuals, it truly depends on the work. Personally, my target audience if I end up writing an autobiography is my family, friends, or anyone who is close to me in some way. But truly who knows, only the test of time can truly decide this.

What Benefits Would I Get From Writing an Autobiography

Throughout history countless people have written books that are like autobiographies, on their lives, legacy, etc. Some of these autobiographies are still read today for many reasons. But what if I consider writing an autobiography someday, what if I want to compress all of my life stories into one book to be read by a group of people. Well if I do such a thing and actually put time into going forward in the endeavor of writing an autobiography what benefits would I personally get from writing an autobiography, or compressing all of my life stories into a single unit of a book?

Benefit One:

The first benefit I believe I will get from writing an autobiography is leaving a legacy for my children or later generations to go back to. Thinking logically who knows if I will even have children, but I do plan on having children sometime in the future. But nevertheless if I do have children I would want them to know of my life, my achievements or accomplishments, the challenges I faced and how I overcame them, etc. But most importantly I do hope that my autobiography will come to use for my children. For example, what if my adult child faces some problem which I similarly faced, but because of my autobiography my child will be able to read and go back on how I faced and dealt with that problem, which will inspire them, and help them deal with the issue at hand. Even this probably will not be the case, it still would be nice to leave a little something about “me” for my children.

Benefit Two:

The second benefit I will get from writing an autobiography is being able to look through my life. Even though you can look through your life in other ways including going through all your memories, writing an autobiography will make all of those memories in an organized order and easily accessible for me to revisit. Also this benefit will be helpful after I write the autobiography when I am a much older individual, to “relive,” all of those past moments in my life without relying on my faulty memory.

Benefit Three:

The third benefit and final benefit I will get from writing an autobiography is knowing that I accomplished writing an actual autobiography. I mean not that many people have gone around and used their precious time to write an autobiography, so actually completing one personally will feel like a huge accomplishment for me. 

Conclusion 

Writing an autobiography sounds like such a daunting and difficult task to accomplish at first, but after you realize that there are benefits to doing so, it becomes far less daunting. For me I believe that the three benefits I will get from going ahead and writing an autobiography are: leaving a legacy for my children or later generations, being able to look through my life, and finally the accomplishment of writing an actual autobiography. Even though there are definitely more benefits to writing an autobiography, and everyone has different ideas on what those benefits will be, these three in my opinion are the benefits I will get from writing an autobiography.

What Can I Do to Make My Autobiography Less Disjointed Than Twain’s

Mark Twain(1835-1910), is probably one of the most famous and beloved authors in American history. He has written many famous works including the famous Tom Sawyer, which are still read today. Twain is famous for his unique humor, which is seen in many of his novels. Twain later in life even wrote an autobiography, which unfortunately was not as good as his other written works, due to the fact that it was disjointed, and a great deal of his life stories in the autobiography did not fit together or align. So what can I do when I endeavor writing an autobiography to prevent it from being as disjointed as Twain’s?

The first thing I can do to prevent my autobiography from being as disjointed as Twain’s is to keep a diary or journal. Keeping a diary or journal will enable me to write down specific events that happen to me or memorable life stories of mine immediately after the event happens. Which will ensure that I won’t be struggling when writing those events in my autobiography because I have a diary that contains all of those events in detail, instead of just using my memory which can be faulty. Even though this diary won’t contain every single detail of every single day of my life, I will be able to have a firm and sturdy foundation to go off of for my autobiography, which in turn will prevent it from being disjointed.

The second thing I can do to prevent my autobiography from being disjointed is by keeping a timeline of my life. One of the main issues I noticed with Twain’s autobiography that made it so disjointed was the fact that the timeline was all over the place. For example one chapter was about him when he was in his early teens and then the next chapter was about him when he was a young child. It doesn’t exactly flow smoothly, and is a bit all over the place. So by making a timeline of my life which contains all of the important events that happened when I was a child, teenager, and adult, in that order the autobiography will flow nicely, preventing it from being disjointed. Also with the timeline whoever is reading the autobiography will feel as if they were being led through my life smoothly, without being jostled backward to a completely different time of my life.

In short the ways I can make my autobiography less disjointed than Twain’s autobiography are: by keeping a diary, which will record all of the important events in my life which will make the writing process much easier, while also making the autobiography flow. The second thing I can do to make my autobiography less disjointed than Twain’s is by keeping a timeline of my life, so that all of my life stories and important events that have happened in my life are in the correct order, which prevents my autobiography from being confusing and all over the place like Twain’s.