Purpose and Moment behind the Writing
This writings were made during burial ceremony of a lady who has been fighting for change, “she is not dead but sleepeth.” (Thoreau 8) The writings were meant to give hope to the family of the deceased and the change activists. This is based on the sentence, “every part of nature teaches that passing away of one live is the making room for another.” (Thoreau 2)
In this sentence, the author is trying to give hope to those left behind by the deceased that, even though she has died, but she has given room for more good things to happen. At the same time, the author is trying to advice people to do good things while still on earth as their deeds might benefit other people when they die. People’s deeds might either affect other people positively or negatively, depending on what they did while still a life, and such effects might be long run or short run.
People should be like trees, whereby, the main tree might be felt, but the impacts after sometime will be positive, as more trees will sprout. In a statement “I find it good to remember the eternity behind me as well as eternity before,” (Thoreau 3) implies that, people should know where they are coming from and where they are going, they should not just walk in darkness. People should be taking any opportunity that comes before them, to ensure that they have reached their right destiny.
The other purpose of this writing is to agitate people to stop seeing things happen the way they are happening, but try to make them happen the way they would like them to happen. This is found in the statement “how can a man sit down and quietly pare nails while the earth goes gyrating ….” (Thoreau 2)
The writings also warn the change activists that though it might take them long to attain little changes, but if not careful, such changes will be taken away from them by parasites. This is evidenced in the sentence, “the squirrel has leapt to another tree, the hawk has circled further off and has now settled on a new eyre, but the woodman is preparing to lay his axe at the root of that also.” (Thoreau 7)
These writings were being directed towards mourners, change activists and people leaving in Concord. They are mourners because; the author is trying to give them hope by saying that, the deceased is not dead, but is just a sleep.
In general, all people leaving in Concord are being told that “Concord is a worthier place to live in,” (Thoreau 8) but the problem is that, people leaving there are parasites. This is because, they seem not to care about the effects of their deeds on others, hence are always taking other than giving, or tendering. Hence there is need for change.
In this writing, the tone is optimistic, as the author is much hopeful that the situation in which they are in will at a time become much better than it is. The author thinks that everything will at the end turn out to be better. Optimistic tone is expressed by the statement “every part of nature teaches that the passing away of one life is the making room for another.”(Thoreau 2) This shows that, though one of their own has died, but there is still hope for better life. This is particularly to individuals who are fighting for change.
As though they might undergo some sort of hardship, but the result of any hardship they might be undergoing, will be something to smile about in future. This is depicted by the sentence “the oak dies down to the ground leaving within its rind a rich virgin mould, which will impact a vigorous life to an infant forest.” (Thoreau 2) As a result, though change activists have lost one of their own, but that is not the end of the road, as it will increase activism for change in Concord.
The other incident depicting optimistic tone is the description of felling the notable pine tree. After felling the tree “the last of a dozen or more which were left when the forest was cut have waved in solitary majesty over sprout land.” (Thoreau 6) This explains that, though most of the people involved in change activism might die, but at the end, a few who will survive will enjoy the fruits.
The author has good wishes too for his country, for instance, “I wish to see the earth through the medium of much air or heaven- for there is no paint like air.” (Thoreau 4) In this statement, the tone is optimistic that though they might not achieve the perfect change, but there will come a time when the situation will be at least better.
Another statement that shows that that shows optimistic tone is, “there is a latent light in the mist.” (Thoreau 7) This shows that, though the current situation is in darkness, but there is hope that the situation will turn better in future. Though it might be drizzling in the current situation, but still there is hope that things will be better like the brightest weather. This depicts optimistic tone.
Thoreau, Henry. Henry David Thoreau: Three Complete Books: The Maine Woods, Walden, Cape Cod. United States: Library of America. 1985.