A primary resource for all things nature and experience, Thoreau’s 1854 narrative account of living two years alone on Walden Pond, Walden works to challenge the reader’s perspective on nature and to find one’s own narrative in it. Thoreau’s goals in the book seem to teeter on the edge of persuasion, though his eloquent accounts of his experiences leave the reader with no real advice—Thoreau has written a book defining the experience of living simply and naturally as truly his own, and through a particular passage in the book it is apparent that he has greater motives beyond retelling his reclusion into the Walden woods. This particular passage in the middle of the book ties in a possible underlying theme Thoreau was possibly unaware of: the effect of nature on the emotional and physical manifestations of grief. Through careful analysis of the text, it is likely that many of Thoreau’s experiences in the woods are unconscious reactions to the presence of loss, death, and inevitable change in his personal life. Along with the interdependence of nature and experience, another idea arises in Walden, wherein the integration of nature and environment in Thoreau’s writing complicates the underlying theme of his own grief, and grappling in particular with the death of his dear elder brother, John, and later, his father.
The focus of Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s speech at Berkeley Law School in 2001 is that in order to argue for more women and people of color to be present on the bench, a new definition and description of Latino identity must be created. Sotomayor expresses in her speech that her “Newyorkrican” nationality and her experiences growing up in a rich Latino culture surrounded by her Puerto Rican family mean she identifies as such, but she questions how, in America, the tension between a celebration of ethnic diversity and a need for color- and race-blindness can ground a person’s true cultural identity. In order to reach a conclusion on the issue of identity, Sotomayor makes the claim that, though there has been a “quantum leap” (Sotomayor, 2001) in the number of Latinos and women in legal positions, there is still much to be done to show a complete representation of men and women, but specifically women of color, behind the bench. Sotomayor received backlash from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who called Sotomayor a “racist” in 2009 for her remarks during the speech that she hoped the experiences of a Latina woman would help her make better judging decisions than a white male who has not had those experiences. The controversy over Sotomayor’s speech about creating a definition of identity for women of color in legal positions and Gingrich’s uninformed comments can be situated within two theories of feminism: Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality and Nancy Hartsock’s feminist standpoint theory.