Thoreau portrays himself as a restlessly intelligent and honest philosopher who views nature as a way to both learn about life and to understand higher truths. He goes to Walden, he tells readers, to "live deliberately ... and see if [he] could not learn what it had to teach." While he embraces solitude he has friends and acquaintances, several of whom appear in Walden.
Therien (the Woodchopper) is the closest character to a "friend" in the book and appears three times. There are some similarities between the two men, including their French-Canadian surnames and their choice to live away from society. Both are thoughtful introverts and philosophers of a sort; Thoreau has gleaned his philosophies mostly from reading the classics. Therien rarely reads but has a fresh, original way of thinking that Thoreau appreciates. Thoreau's relationship with Therien has its quirks. Although Thoreau admires the Woodchopper, viewing him as a hero worthy of a Homeric saga, he also views him as an oddity and often feeds him questions just to see what he'll say. Thoreau also emphasizes what he calls Therien's "animal nature"—a rather patronizing label from a man who professes to be broadminded.
From the quotations in Walden, Channing (the Poet) was an indifferent poet at best; Thoreau called his style "sublime-slipshod." But he was a good friend to Thoreau, who was grateful for Channing's visits to the cabin.
In Walden, Thoreau says of Alcott (the Philosopher), "His words and attitude always suppose a better state of things than other men are acquainted with, and he will be the last man to be disappointed as the ages revolve." This is a polite description of Alcott's perennial dreamy optimism.