by Henry David Thoreau
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
I Hear America Singing
- Walt Whitman
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was a famous American poet, essayist, and humanist who is often called the father of the “free verse” style of poetry. He wrote during the urbanization of America and celebrated the idea of America alive with nature, art, and imagination. In this poem, Whitman describes the varied, lively voices across America.Pair “I Hear America Singing” with the “Excerpt from Walden: ‘Economy’” and ask students to discuss the authors’ views of a developing America. What similarities or differences do these contemporaries have?
Halsted Street Car
- Carl Sandburg
Carl Sandburg's poem "Halsted Street Car" (1916) is a critique of working conditions in Chicago. In it, Sandburg paints a powerful picture of the weary faces of the working class.Pair “Halsted Street Car” with the “Excerpt from Walden: ‘Economy’” and ask students to discuss the notion of work and technology in each. Do Thoreau’s concerns about technology have any basis in Sandburg’s portrayal of work in industrialized America?
Excerpt from Walden: “Where I Lived and What I Lived For”
- Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American author, essayist, poet, abolitionist, and philosopher. He, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, was one of the major figures of the Transcendentalism movement. The text below is taken from his best known work, Walden, a reflection upon his two years spent living in the wilderness near Walden Pond in Massachusetts.Pair “Excerpt from Walden: ‘Economy’” with “Excerpt from Walden: ‘Where I Lived and What I Lived For’” and ask students to discuss the similar themes found in these excerpts from the same source. Does Thoreau favor change or stasis?
Everyday Life as a Learning Experience
- Sarah A. Chrisman
A writer describes what she has learned by living her twenty-first-century life as if she lived in the late 1800s.Pair “Excerpt from Walden: ‘Economy’” with “Everyday Life as a Learning Experience” to give students an example of what was happening in American literature during the time period Chrisman studies. Does Chrisman share Walden’s opinions on technology and self-reliance?
Excerpt from “Civil Disobedience”
- Henry David Thoreau
In “Excerpt from ‘Civil Disobedience’” Thoreau meditates upon the necessity of willfully disobeying unjust laws, no matter the personal consequences.Pair “Excerpt from ‘Civil Disobedience’” with “Excerpt from Walden: ‘Economy’” and have students compare the themes in each text. What does Thoreau’s argument in Walden have in common with “Excerpt from ‘Civil Disobedience’”? What is Thoreau’s idea of a life well-spent?