Summary – Chapter Ten ‘Baker Farm’
He explains how he paid many visits to particular trees that were rare in the area and refers to them as ‘shrines’. He also tells how once he stood in ‘the very abutment of a rainbow’s arch’ and says how Cellini wrote about a light appearing over the shadow of his head.
The narrative shifts as he discusses the time that he took shelter from a storm when on his way to Fair Haven and this is where Irishman John Field lived and is evidently poor. He told Thoreau he worked ‘bogging’ for a famer and Thoreau told him it is possible to live like he does (on less money and less arduously) and not have tea, coffee, butter, milk or fresh meat. Field had seen these items as a ‘gain’ though when he came to America. The chapter ends with Thoreau stating that John Field’s horizon was ‘all his own’ yet he was ‘born to be poor’.
Analysis – Chapter Ten
He endows the environment here and elsewhere with a form of mystical quality that is largely removed from Christian thinking. By regarding the rarer trees as shrines, he distances himself from institutionalized religions and determines to show that nature alone is worth honoring.
The description of John Field and the poverty from which he cannot escape, are then referred to and Thoreau claims that Field plays a part in his downtrodden life by still being tied to the way of thinking that values mainstream society. Thoreau argues that it is possible to choose to escape this trap if one is prepared to forego the supposed pleasures, such as tea and coffee, but sees that Field will remain as he is as long as he believes this is the only way to exist.