Economy Literary Reflection
Mr. Fitzsimmons’s Class
Questioning Life Decisions
Needs are imposed by nature. Wants are sold by society.
- Mokokoma Mohonoana
Sometimes the truth hurts. In the chapter “Economy” in the book Walden, Henry David Thoreau explores what many feel uncomfortable going near. Thoreau knows many spend their lives accumulating wealth, only to waste it on something that doesn’t bring happiness. He criticizes people worry more about their wants their needs. I completely agree with Thoreau. If we all lived a little bit like him, we’d all be happier and would be a better community.
The first chapter of Walden
, “Economy”, questions “Why do we live where we do?” and “Why do we wear what we wear?”.
In the first part of the chapter Thoreau dives into the true necessities of life.
He differentiates wants from needs.
Needs or necessities (things like food and water, shelter, clothes, etc.) are often not considered as much as wants (worldly and extravagant objects).
Thoreau knows people care more about their wants then their needs.
As Thoreau said, “In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.”
When he talks about “failing immediately” he is referring to only focusing on wants, and when he is talking about “aiming at something high” he is referring to focusing more on needs.
He then goes on to talk about the wants and needs of clothing, and how companies thrive off this. Humans are naturally greedy.
Through societal norms and being taught to cope with these feelings, many’s natural greed has been mitigated.
Thoreau; however, knows for the majority of people that greed is still prevalent in people’s lives.
He knows clothing companies (and many others) exploit this natural greed as convincing others to purchase “trendy” and expensive clothing as means of profit.
As Thoreau said, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.”
Thoreau then goes on to talk about shelter and how prodigal and foolish it is to purchase such lavish homes.
All houses serve the same purpose
He also argues our houses prevent us from being more connected with nature, and it isolated us from real-world problems.
As Thoreau said, “It would be well, perhaps, if we were to spend more of our days and nights without any obstruction between us and the celestial bodies.”
Thoreau then argues if one can spend half their life accumulating money to buy their dream house, would that house really be worth it? If it took so long to work for, and cheaper and quicker options serve the same purpose, was it worth all those arduous years?
This section of the book taught me hidden keys to life I’d never realized before. At first, I wasn’t feeling much emotion towards the book at all, but as the reading progressed I felt enlightened, and as though I had a better grip on the truths of life. I related to the themes of the book (prioritizing wants over needs, saving up to buy not-so special things, etc.) because I had been unknowingly contributing to what Thoreau was arguing against. Naturally, in many situations we want to buy the more expensive product just because of it’s price. This section of the book challenged me to be more conscientious about regular I decisions I make in life. I am appreciative to be able to improve myself by reading this book. Classics like Walden have a great level of truth and power in them, which is something that is not always conveyed in present-day literature. Walden establishes truths and challenges how many of us live our lives. Most people don’t consider “Do I really need this” or “Why do I want this” when making split second decisions. Thoreau challenges us to think differently and consider things from a different perspective.
Henry David Thoreau is a master of writing, and what he writes about is completely unique. He addresses societal problems, and challenges us to be more thoughtful to create solutions...