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Walden | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • Spring 1845

    At 27, Thoreau uses a borrowed ax to begin building his cabin near Walden Pond.

    Chapter 1
  • Summer 1845

    Thoreau clears the land for his bean field.

    Chapter 7
  • Autumn 1845

    Thoreau builds the cabin's fireplace and chimney and plasters the walls.

    Chapter 13
  • Spring 1846

    Thoreau surveys the size and depth of Walden Pond, proving that it is not bottomless.

    Chapter 16
  • July 1846

    Thoreau is arrested for refusing to pay his poll tax and spends a night in jail.

    Chapter 8
  • Winter 1846

    The "king of the ice industry" takes over Walden Pond for ice harvesting.

    Chapter 16
  • September 1847

    Thoreau moves out of the cabin and back in with Emerson's family.

    Chapter 17

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 Thoreau's stated purpose in "Economy" is to explain the circumstances of his moving into a small cabin near Walden Pond ... Read More
Chapter 2 Thoreau describes his long search for the perfect place to conduct his experiment in living. On his walks he has talked ... Read More
Chapter 3 Thoreau recalls that the cabin at Walden Pond was better than a university for studying "the noblest recorded thoughts o... Read More
Chapter 4 Reading the classics is crucial, says Thoreau, but its benefits are trivial compared to those of living mindfully: "Will... Read More
Chapter 5 Thoreau describes a "delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore." He fe... Read More
Chapter 6 In "Visitors," Thoreau states, "I love society as much as most, and am ready enough to fasten myself like a bloodsucker ... Read More
Chapter 7 Thoreau spends his first Walden summer farming beans—seven miles' worth of rows. Being Thoreau, he even grows beans mind... Read More
Chapter 8 "The Village" opens with Thoreau's description of a typical day. After a morning's work, he often walks into Concord. Th... Read More
Chapter 9 In the previous chapter, Thoreau mostly talks about Concord; in this one, he wants to talk about places he prizes more. ... Read More
Chapter 10 This chapter opens with an extended description of the beauty of the woods Thoreau explores. Certain trees are as import... Read More
Chapter 11 Returning from John Field's cabin, Thoreau spots a woodchuck and is briefly tempted to "seize and devour him raw." What ... Read More
Chapter 12 Thoreau opens this chapter with a short set piece: an imaginary dialogue between a hermit and a poet about fishing toget... Read More
Chapter 13 It's October and Thoreau goes grape picking in the meadows. He gathers wild apples and ripe chestnuts. The woods are tak... Read More
Chapter 14 Winter isolates Thoreau more than ever. For weeks he sees only the occasional woodchopper. For company, he is "obliged t... Read More
Chapter 15 It's still winter and the distant sound of a hooting owl is "forlorn but melodious." At night the sounds outside are Tho... Read More
Chapter 16 Winter mornings have particular routines at Walden Pond. Thoreau must clear a foot of snow and chop through a foot of ic... Read More
Chapter 17 "The first sparrow of spring! The year beginning with younger hope than ever!" is how Thoreau welcomes spring and a chan... Read More
Chapter 18 "To the sick the doctors wisely recommend a change of air and scenery," Thoreau reports in the last chapter. Although Th... Read More
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