The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail Act 2

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Lydian takes Edward and Henry huckleberry hunting, during which Edward expresses his desire for Henry to be his father. Later, Henry is asked by Bailey to be his lawyer but refuses. In Walden Woods, Henry feeds an escaped slave named Henry Williams and later argues with Waldo about his lack of action against slavery. Henry convinces Waldo to make a speech, but Lydian tells him that Waldo has chosen to write an essay instead. In a nightmare, Henry sees all the major characters from the play in the Mexican war. Henry wakes up and finds out his tax has been paid for by his aunt, and decides to leave Walden and take a stand against society’s injustices.

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Lydian instructs Edward to accompany Henry on a huckleberry hunting expedition. Edward expresses his desire for Henry to be his father, a sentiment he later conveys to his mother as well. Suggesting that Henry should marry, Lydian implies that nature is his intended partner. Meanwhile, in the jail cell, Bailey implores Henry to serve as his lawyer, but Henry declines the request. Transitioning to Walden Woods, Henry provides nourishment to a fleeing slave named Henry Williams, who is en route to Canada. As time progresses, Henry engages in a dispute with Waldo regarding Waldo’s lack of protest against the release of slaves like Williams, who has suffered gunshot wounds.

Henry accuses Waldo of hypocrisy and urges him, as someone with greater influence, to publicly denounce slavery and the war. Initially uncertain, Waldo reluctantly agrees. Henry immediately proceeds to ring the town bell and declare that Waldo will deliver a speech. However, Lydian informs Henry that Waldo has decided to reflect on the issue and express his stance through a meticulously written essay. Consequently, the crowd disbands. Henry attempts to capture their attention once more, but this time the bell fails to make any noise.

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Henry, incarcerated in his cell, experiences a terrifying nightmare wherein the Mexican war unfolds before him, and all the key figures from the play partake in the battle. Edward Emerson assumes the role of a drummer boy, Sam Staples portrays a sergeant, Bailey becomes a soldier, Ball transforms into the general, and Waldo embodies the president. Henry endeavors to converse with Waldo but finds himself unable to produce any sound. As Ball requests instructions from Waldo, he expresses his need to gather his thoughts. Williams emerges as a Mexican soldier amidst the chaos. Despite Edward being wounded, Waldo pays no mind to this reality and insists on allocating additional time to contemplate and compose a meticulously worded essay.

The voice of then-Congressman Abraham Lincoln urges to end the war. John appears in a soldier’s uniform and is killed. Henry wakes up in the jail cell after having a nightmare and finds Sam present with breakfast. Sam informs Henry that someone paid his tax and he is now free to leave. Henry is furious and demands that Sam reveal it was his Aunt Louisa who paid. Henry departs from the cell, informing Bailey that he is leaving Walden. He explains that he cannot continue hiding in the woods and must instead take a more proactive stance against society’s injustices.

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The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail Act 2. (2018, Feb 23). Retrieved from

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