Nature journal entry

Walden Writing Prompt #3

What We Need VS. What We Don’t 



Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth

- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

           Not everyone needs what they have. In Henry David Thoreau’s first chapter of Walden, “Economy”, he considers life’s necessities and how people spoil themselves. To him, necessities other than, food, water, and shelter, shouldn’t be clothes we don’t need or house we work extremely hard for when it’s not worth it. I agree that people shouldn’t work and slave themselves for half their life to have a fancy house. I also agree not everyone needs clothes to just have and let them sit in their closet. We shouldn’t work extra hours or put in extra time just to waste money on things nobody needs or things we may never use more than once.

           In the clothes section of the chapter Thoreau writes about how old clothes or shoes will do as long as continue to cover you foot or fit on your body. He ponders about how we shouldn’t just by clothes because they are the popular fashion or what everyone is wearing, he asks why can’t we just wear what works and what fits. He argues that factories shouldn’t be selling clothes or shoes that are more expensive when they do the same thing as regular ones, but instead just sell the ones that will work no matter what. He then goes on to consider peoples houses and he starts off by talking about the Penobscot Indians in Concord. Even with a shelter that has cotton cloth for walls and they seem to be doing just fine. “I have seen Penobscot Indians, in this town, living in tents of thin cotton cloth, while the snow was nearly a foot deep around them.” He considers the farmers from Concord too, saying that they work so hard and there home is fine for them even if it isn’t as big as they want it. The most important point he makes is that any shelter is as good as the rest, meaning that everyone or anything has their own shelter and if it works for them it is just as good as any other house.


A man who has at length found something to do will not need to get a new suit to do it in; for him the old will do…Old shoes will serve a hero longer than they have served his valet—if a hero ever has a valet—bare feet are older than shoes, and he can make them do…”


Thoreau states his opinion about how fancy clothes or shoes aren’t needed. He considers how hero’s don’t spoil themselves and don’t spoil themselves instead use what works instead of making an unnecessary upgrade.

                While reading this piece, it made me consider all of things I have that I don’t need. Thinking about this made this piece interesting for me because I was able to connect it to my own life which continued to make me thinking. When considering my own life I thought about how lucky I am to have a nice house, fancy clothes, and how I’m able to go to a nice school. I thought about the people in my town who were left on the streets because of the gas explosions and how I was able to stay warm inside my own. It made me realize how lucky I really am. In the story Thoreau chooses to live a tough life and is living off the bare minimums, which made it hard for me to relate. We are living completely differently, so I couldn’t picture myself in his shoes and living like him. It also made me think about all the people out there working so hard and living on so little, struggling to get by. I though about all of the people who work so hard and spend their money on a fancy house and nice clothes that they will be paying off for thirty years. “With a little more wit we might use these materials so as to become richer than the richest now are, and make our civilization a blessing.” I then realized that if they were smarter and saved there money they would eventually be better in the end.

           Wasting money on things we may use once or twice is completely unnecessary.