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The Bean-Field, Henry David Thoreau

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Ayadi Marwa


Response Paper on The Bean-Field, Henry David Thoreau.

This chapter is taken from the book Walden written by Henry David Thoreau and published in 1854. The book is a kind of memoir on approximately two years of the author’s life.

Although this text might seem like a basic agricultural argumental strategy on how to grow beans, the author allows us into his brain and way of thinking through his agricultural work.

The first approach of the text let us see the daily life of a farmer growing beans on a land but the more you read the more you see the particularity of this farmer. He is different from other farmers, he doesn’t use any machines on his land, and he doesn’t take workers either to show self-reliance. Starting from this point we immediately gather that the labor of this farmer is not about a material aim, but more of a spiritual aim. To Thoreau Farming gives a remarkable strength that he compares to the strength of a North African giant in Hercules, ‘’Antaeus’’ who gained strength each time he touched the ground as if the ground was kind enough to help mankind at all time without asking anything in return.  Also, farming gives the strength of a scholar because he compares farming to a spiritual exercise that helps him develop self-discipline and patience. He ignores the main purpose of growing beans to eat them and turn it into a biblical message: ‘’why should I raise them?- Only Heaven knows”. He only cares about the symbolic image of the labor itself rather than it’s economic value. Above it all, he says you need to cherish the creation of God and even if the woodchuck destroys the beans or the birds eat the beans he sees it as a blessing to them. You need to accept the blessings that Nature presents you and embrace it almost as if he wanted Mankind to stop chasing after only what he can gain from Nature but take care of the well being of Nature.

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