Walden is a joyful book. It's easy to get distracted by Thoreau's sometimes bully-like, preachy moments, but, if he's preaching, he's preaching the joy of life. He wants to jolt his readers out of their despair, dejection, and anxieties. Happiness can't be found in luxury or power, he tells us. These things can only distract from the true source of happiness, the inexhaustible beauty of nature and of the human spirit. The pages of this book are filled with Thoreau's sensual delight in nature: every sound is music, every sight is a work of art, and there isn't a berry or a chipmunk in the area that he isn't willing to taste. If Walden is an experiment, it's an experiment to discover whether a man who has little more than a one-room cabin and some not-so-profitable beans can find joy. And, of course, the book answers with a resounding yes.
Thoreau is right; modern life is the primary cause of unhappiness in America.
Thoreau is wrong; most people in the world are not unhappy.
Thoreau discovers true happiness in the simple life he leads at Walden Pond.