Chapter : "Visitors"
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One morning, a twenty-eight year old French-Canadian woodchopper , who has been living in the US for twelve years, hoping to save money to buy a farm in Canada, visits him. This man, who was taught to pronounce Greek by a Catholic priest, reads Homer with Thoreau, who translates for him, but he has no real intellectual appreciation of it.
This man brings his lunch, often a woodchuck his dog has caught, with him into the woods, where he works. He enjoys his work, smiling as he chops trees, and sometimes amuses himself by firing salutes into the air with his pistol. He is a prime example of the "animal man" but the intellectual and spiritual components of his being are "slumbering." Thoreau attributes this to his education by priests who never awakened his consciousness but only educated him to the degree of trust and reverence found in a child. This man is "simple and naturally humble" and reverences the writer and the preacher. Thoreau sometimes finds his name written in the snow and asks if he thinks of writing down his thoughts, but the man says it would be too hard to decide what to put first and to worry about spelling at the same time.
The Canadian woodsman provides an ambivalent symbol in Thoreau's lexicon. On the one hand, he represents the absence of intellectual and spiritual life and thus is a symbol for the majority of men Thoreau knows. Thoreau's difficulty in awakening this man's spirituality even through direct attention represents his (failed) attempts to do the same with the majority of his townsmen and readers of the book. On the other hand, the woodchopper represents the pure "animal spirit" of man and therefore proves Thoreau's arguments about man as part of nature. Thoreau admires the man's unselfconscious and honest response to life because, despite his difficulty in awakening his spirituality, it undoes accepted notions about the real location of genius. The genius slumbering in the Canadian gives Thoreau hope about the possibility of wakening genius in everyone and thus undercuts the monopoly "upstanding" townsmen have on thoughts and ideas.