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Chapter Ten: The Baker Farm
This relatively brief chapter tells of Thoreau's love of going for walks. He would wander through the woods, carefully observing all forms of life from giant trees to mosses growing underfoot. One day as he walked towards Fairhaven, he was caught in the midst of a storm. The only place for shelter was the Baker Farm, a place he had once considered purchasing. The inhabitants of the Baker Farm were members of an Irish immigrant family, and they received Thoreau quite hospitably despite their apparent poverty.
During his visit with the Irish family, whose family name was Field, Thoreau had occasion to speak with the father, a laborer named John. Field spent some time sharing his life with Thoreau, telling him of his hard work and limited resources. For the most part, Field seemed disappointed, thinking life was harder than it ought to be and that his rewards were not as great as he had expected. He had high hopes for a more luxurious lifestyle in the future. Thoreau spoke earnestly with John Field, sharing his philosophy of a simple, contented life. His desire was that John Field would stop aspiring for more and more possessions and become content with all that he had. In the end, however, the laborer refused to see things as Thoreau. His dreams and aspirations were too strong to surrender.
This chapter serves mainly to highlight the difference between the laborer, who represents the common man with his desire for material possessions, and Thoreau, who seeks to be a better person by living a simpler life. Thoreau tries to persuade John Field to accept a more contented, less stressful way of life. But the laborer is already too caught up in his lifestyle and is unable to see the truth of Thoreau's approach.