Throughout history, a person's, or their predecessors', financial well-being determined their social standing. In the Roman Empire, if you were born a slave, you had to crawl your way to the top, and even then, you could never reach the status of a free person. You simply were not worth as much. In India, the Hindu caste system is largely based on your ancestors' income. If your parents were born as untouchables, you could never become anything more, doomed to a life of poverty and cleaning out sewers. Even into the supposed 'modern age', the mid-1800's to today's times, there are definite lines in relation to how high one can rise into society with a certain economical status, and that dictates much of the workings of the world. In Walden, one of Thoreau's essays in the book is titled "Economy". In it, he discusses the money spent on the purchases for his house, and he parallels these purchases with insights into monetary value applies to life situations. Thoreau's views of life, riches and poverty, and pay are enhanced by his reflections on life and society's expectations of man.
On the very first page of Walden, Thoreau expresses that many people live falsely, and that he has not yet met one person who has lived his life to the fullest and explored every option. Later on in the book, he also ascribes living falsely with having too many things that weigh you down, and that encumber your chances of truly living. He challenges that he would like to see people dragging every single object they own down the road, including the house and the land on which they live. "How many a poor immortal soul have I met well nigh crushed and smothered...creeping down the road of life, pushing before [them] a barn seventy-five feet by forty...and one hundred acres of land, tillage, mowing, pasture, and wood-lot!" (Walden, pp. 2) Thoreau illustrates that no one needs all of the things they have, even if it shows their own wealth, and that it hinders one from living sincerely....
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