Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Was Put Into Jail


I have paid no poll-tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated me as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through before they could get to be as free as I was. I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. 

44 comments:

  1. This seems very contradictory when you consider Walden--a setting in where he was in complete solitude. Perhaps this solitude is different because he is away from nature and he doesn't have anything with which he can connect.

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    1. I think Emerson is more focused on being a non-conformist, rather then living in solitude in nature. In this essay, he does not want to conform to society by paying taxes

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  2. In this paragraph, I can see how Thoreau goes into great detail, like he did in his Walden essay. Thoreau obviously does not like how society is set up, and would rather just live freely. He feels that society does not really care about each individual and the potential they have, but rather thinks that they are nothing. He finds this foolish.

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  3. I think his view is a little twisted, as he should still in some way or another do what he should to pay society. If you are not benefiting a society monetarily you should at least be contributing to the mindset of the people of the time, however, he did not (as indicated by his lack of fame or recognition). Despite this, he was hardly using the recourses the government, and his self-pity is not entirely undeserved. Either way, he still enjoyed things as simple as his walking on the road, so his struggles were not as one-sided as he enjoyed to think.

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  4. Why does the author reference the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar? Does this reference to how bad the conditions are in the jail?

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  5. As I saw in Walden as well, you can see that he enjoys writing his ideas in specific detail, and there was a lot of imagery. He also adds a lot of metaphors such as the "wall of stone", to show the idea of a borderline, or a difference between the townsmen and him. He does not like the ideas that society has, and is criticizing them in this paragraph.

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  6. One thing I like about Thoreau's writings is his strong use of adjectives that gives an ability for us to create an image of the setting and understand his feelings. In Walden, he conveys his love for nature through praiseful words. In this passage, we clearly could see his hatred for society and the jail cell where they treat him as "flesh, blood and bones".

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  7. I think the author likes to express his feelings as well as the surrounding environment specifically and detailed. However I think too much of these sometimes make the readers confused.

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  8. In his other writings too, I`ve noticed that he really likes to go into details and get specific about weird things like the wall in this case.

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  9. I felt that although the environment that he was in was different from his forrest home, but he was confined and alone as he was in the forrest. He criticizes the treatment that he is receiving for not paying his tax, but it makes me wonder why wouldn't he pay his taxes? And if he had no money to pay it, wouldn't he not have to pay?

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  10. I think that Walden has gone a little too far in living his life without conformity. In our society, we have to be conformed to some extent- paying taxes I think is one of them. But even though he is not in nature and is confined jail, his descriptive writings and imagery still shine. The first-person narration give us a striking note of authenticity and personal conviction to Thoreau's account in prison.

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  11. I think it's really interesting to see that Thoreau is very observant wherever he is. He is very descriptive about the jail and gives careful attention to the smallest things. He also emphasizes his point on how he is against society and how he believes that he needs to live more freely.

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  12. Thoreau, even in jail, shows that he has a great feel for imagery and description (as shown in his description of the jail walls), but here, I think he refers to his freedom as an idea more than an actual state of physical being. In his other writing pieces (in Walden), he speaks of freedom and living a life worth living as being in nature and doing what one loves; here, he ended up in jail in protest, but as long as the reasons for his actions agree with his personal philosophy, it's not taking away from his freedom.

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  13. I think Thoreau crossed the line too far to be non-conformist. Moderation is key to everything in life; there is an extent to how non-conformist, or against society you could be until you have to face the consequences/downfall for your actions. Thoreau's lack of being moderate resulted in his arrest. It was very interesting to see how he pays attention to every detail of the jail cell, even when he is enraged at society.

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  14. As a writer Thoreau uses descriptive language to describe life in jail which shows that his creativity expands no matter where he may be.

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  15. like his writing in walden, you can see his ability to write his ideas in specific detail. He also had a lot of metaphors and imagery throughout his writings. In this paragraph Thoreau shows how he doesn't like the way society is set up and how he wants to live freely.

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  17. Thoreau is very descriptive on what he is explaining. It is very interesting that he writes about the smallest details. Thoreau didn't pay the taxes because he was probably against something towards the government, but what was he against?

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  18. While Thoreau writes with great diction on his feat of breaking the law, I find that his view on the world is selfish; he is benefitting from the taxes (that's not all contributed to the war), yet he makes this "incredible social stance" by not contributing his taxes. I don't believe that this is "non-conformity": this is just being venal.

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  19. I think this really explains how Thoreau went too far when he came to stop paying his taxes. It explains that his transcendentalist idea of non-conformity may have given him the idea that it was okay. He seems really focused on his surroundings especially that of the walls. I guess this shows that he is either really bored, or feels very confined.

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  20. SImilar to his other writing, Thoreau makes it seem as if he has the utmost fascination in the uninteresting. For example, the door in this piece. Not only that, but similar to his other pieces, he gives his opinion on just about everything. I enjoy his style of writing and he sort of makes me agree with his view on taxes.

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  21. Thoreau is very good at slightly criticizing what he doesn't believe. Readers can tell by the way he emphasizes his own thoughts very much, that he enjoys declaring what he believes is correct. Unlike Walden, his descriptions here are very dark and depressing; however, he still talks about solitude. In this piece, it is about the solitude in a dark jail cell.

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  22. I really like that he has gotten in big trouble for something and does not care one bit. The line about the townspeople being "as free as [he] was" is a paradox that is very affective in getting across these views. After reading this I can imagine him sitting in a jail cell, covered in dust and mud, with the biggest smile imaginable plastered on his face.

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  23. I think this particular part is funny. He was locked up for 1 night yet he talks like he was in jail for ages. He speaks as though jail changed his life so much but in reality, if I were locked in jail for 1 night, it probably would not change who I am and I wouldn't write about it either. He adds so much detail that it almost seems like he is lying.

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  24. I honestly don't know what he is doing in this passage, but I think he is contradicting his idea he mentioned in Walden. I noticed he writes in details again, and uses metaphor to tell the reader what he felt like in jail.

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  25. I believe that Thoreau is trying to convey how being locked up in jail does not take away from the rights a human has to experience life. He considers how foolish being locked up in such an institution is when really it is no different from being free like the other towns people. He believes that by paying taxes you are as confined to the government as you would be if you were locked up in a prison. I agree with they his views on these issues and relates well to average human beings.

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  26. Thoreau provides a lot of detail in his writing. The way he writes about jail makes him sound almost over dramatic, as he was locked in one night. I also do not think he has the right to reject and criticize taxes, since he is benefiting from them on a daily basis.

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  27. In this passage, not only were the concepts powerful, but the literature was as well. The valuable way he explained the stone walls was intriguing, and his vigorous definitions of his life in jail was powerful. He creates a mood that overly represents the reality of society. Even though Thoreau only spent one night in jail, this passage makes it seem like he has been in jail for years. His pain in jail and his opposing thoughts on society were strongly emphasized. This created an intense and meaningful mood for the story.

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  28. I see why Thoreau would refuse to pay his taxes, but I find this action of his contradictory to his core belief of community and unity with people. Similar to Emerson and other transcendentalists, Thoreau believed that you should become one with nature, as well as the over-soul. Is it not the duty of a community member to contribute to the community itself, even if that means paying taxes.

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  29. EMMA TAKAHASHI

    It is very apparent that Thoreau cherishes detail and uses it to make everything have a deeper meaning to itself. Thoreau strongly believes that the current society where everyone is living in is corrupt and kills everyone’s natural ability to pursue his or her dreams. The only thing that Thoreau wants is simply a life where everyone can let go and be free.

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  30. Thoreau is saying that paying a tax confines you to society, so in order to be free, he did not pay his tax. His view of not being confined to society seems extreme to me here, because he feels free even though he is locked up in a jail. From this, I understand that he believes strongly in freedom and will try hard to keep it.

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  31. In some ways Therou was using the freedom example of Jail as an oxymoron for isolation and self confinement. He says that he is freer than the townspeople, even though he is being locked up in a small cell. This experience made him assert his positions more than before.

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  32. I think that being imprisoned did not phase Thoreau. I also believe that he assumes he is above the law and on a higher level intellectually then most citizens. His writing about his time in jail is very philosophical and articulated really well.

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  33. In this instance, I feel like Thoreau has taken being a non-conformist one step too far. Avoiding taxation is not something that should be celebrated or a sign of rebellion, it is a crime and not paying them is very detrimental towards society. Although his message is of good intention, his plan was not well thought out.

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  34. I find it ironic that the government tried to punish Thoreau, who had spent the last few years in solitude with nature, by putting him in a jail cell. Thoreau also seems to make a connection with everything even if they didn't seem to be related at all. But he notes that the populous was in a sort of prison that the government was building around them.

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  35. I observe that Thoreau can utilize his abilities to the utmost extent in the state of solitude. Walden is based on a journal entry he wrote when he was alone in Nature. Again, as described in this passage, he is in the jail cell all by himself. Based on this experience, he wrote Civil Disobedience.

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  36. I personally feel that this passage is based on the fact that he really doesn't believe he deserves to be there. He lived life at the fullest and how emerson said he should, thus meaning he felt he shouldn't be imprisoned.

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  38. I think the message of this passage is that society is inefficient. The townsmen pay taxes to put someone in jail, but they in turn don't get any benefits from the Thoreau being in jail, thus the taxpayers are just pay money to a weak system.

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  39. Thoreau was put into jail because he didn't pay his taxes to the government. He was known for being a tax resistor because of his belief in civil disobedience and his anarchist views. Thoreau knew that the taxes he paid would go to things such as military expenses, slavery, and other government controlled systems that he did not believe in. In my opinion I think Thoreau was trying to say that it was a good thing that he didnt pay taxes because he was fighting for what he believed in. By being in jail Thoreau was able to avoid taxes but also bring attention to his fellow townsmen that they were paying taxes for the wrong reasons.

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  40. He uses imageries a lot in his writings, such comparing humans to ants in Walden. Here he also uses the same style to describe walls of the jail. In addition, I was also impressed how he connects everything around him to philosophy. In Walden, one of the messages from Thoreau was to think everything as an adventure, and that is the reason why he shows interest to everything he sees. I think that this passage describes that concept very well.

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  41. Although I respect the fact that Thoreau is standing up for what he believes in, I do no think it was acceptable for him to not pay his taxes. Everyone has to pay taxes, whether you agree with what the government is spending it on. It is unfair if everyone has to pay taxes except a few people who don't agree with the government. The government did the right thing by jailing him, because I would be angry if people who didn't pay taxes got away with it. Why is he getting so angry at the fact that he is in jail? He did break the law after all. Non-conformity is good to a certain extent, but you need to stop before you start breaking the law or start harming others.

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  42. I strongly support a person's right to protest against their government, but not paying taxes like everyone else is just unacceptable and selfish. It's ridiculous; if Thoreau cared about his fellow man, he wouldn't have lived in a tree trying to avoid taxation. Although he wasn't really using the services of the government in his life of self-reliance in the woods, he still had to pay taxes just like everyone else.

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  43. In both Walden and this paragraph, Thoreau describes in great detail his intent to go against society and conformity. He never says that he couldn’t pay for his taxes, just that he did not want to. I think Thoreau is just trying to get attention and do something different that what is expected of him as a citizen.

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