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Walt Whitman, half-length portrait, seated, facing left, wearing hat and sweater, holding butterfly

[Detail] Walt Whitman holding butterfly

Historical Issue-Analysis and Decision-Making

The journals touch upon different methods of reform, including war, organized reform movements, poetry and prose, and the character and actions of an individual (one example is Whitman's hospital visits). Students can read Whitman's thoughts on these methods in this collection and in other writings. Refer students to pages 35-36, and 110 of Notebook #80 and page 11 of Notebook #86. In discussion, evaluate the uses, goals, and relative and comparative success of each method. Which methods have lasting effects? When do the ends justify the means? Then, have students choose a contemporary issue, be it war, poverty, racism, or materialism, and make an argument for or against the use of a certain reform method for the chosen problem.