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MonkeyNotes-Walden by Henry David Thoreau
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Chapter Eighteen: Conclusion

Summary

In each of the preceding chapters, there has been a fine balance between Thoreau's detailed recounting of his experiences at Walden and his reflections and interpretations about them. In this final chapter, Thoreau becomes entirely reflective as he tries to make some kind of conclusion about both the experience and literature it produced.

Thoreau believes that his experiment in self-realization could not have been any more successful, and he encourages his readers to be bold and unafraid to undertake experiments on their own. Thoreau's great hope is that his book captures the essence of his experience in the woods. He is afraid, however, that his language cannot do justice to the subject matter.


Thoreau concludes the book by encouraging individuals to find themselves and know their souls. In one of the more famous and oft-quoted passages from Walden, Thoreau writes, "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps ...he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears." He also cautions all humans to patiently seek the truth-whatever the cost or time or effort involved, for "truth alone wears well." Thoreau finally advises each person to love his lot in life, whatever it may be; it is the only road to happiness.

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