Writing a Thesis Statement A crash-course in writing thesis statements.
Warm Up • On a sheet of notebook paper, use a Circle Map to define the American Dream. • Your frames of reference are: • The Declaration of Independence • “I Have a Dream” speech • Modern Concepts of the American Dream • A Raisin in the Sun “I Have a Dream” Dec. of Ind. American Dream ARitS Modern Concepts
Unpack the PromptWhat is the prompt asking you to analyze? • Compose a full 5 paragraph essay analyzing the role of the American Dream in Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. • ROLE: What does the American Dream do in the play? • How does it affect the characters? • What does each character’s American Dream push him/her to do/say/react in the play?
What is a thesis statement?How does a thesis statement work in your writing? How can you discover and refine one for your draft? • After a brief introduction of your topic, you state your point of view on the topic assigned – often in one sentence. • This is your thesis statement, and it serves as a summary of the argument you’ll make or the position you’ll take in the rest of your paper.
A thesis statement is… • Is a roadmap for the paper and tells the reader exactly what to expect from the rest of the paper; • Tells the reader the significance of the subject matter; • Directly answers the question asked of you; • An interpretation of a question or subject, not the subject itself; • One sentence that states your position clearly; • Supported by the rest of your paper.
How do I get a thesis? • A thesis is the result of a lengthy thinking process. • Before you develop an argument on any subject, you have to collect and organize evidence, and look for relationships between gathered evidence. • The result is a “Working Thesis Statement” that you think you can support with evidence, but may need adjustment along the way.
Questions to ask about your thesis? • Does it answer the question of the prompt? • Is my thesis specific enough? • Does my thesis pass the “So what?” test? • Does my essay support my thesis specifically and without wandering? • Does the essay pass the “how?” and “why?” test?
Example Thesis Statements – Level OnePrompt: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. • Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is a great American novel. • The question did not ask you to summarize, it asked you to analyze. • Your teacher is not interested in you opinion of the novel. • You are asked to think about WHY it’s such a great novel - what do Huck’s adventures tell us about life, about America, about coming of age, about race relations, etc.?
Example Thesis Statements – Level TwoPrompt: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. • In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore. • This has potential. • It’s still not clear what the analysis will REVEAL. • Reader is still thinking, “So what? What’s the point? What does the contrast signify?”
Example Thesis Statements – Level TwoPrompt: Write an analysis of some aspect of Mark Twain’s novel Huckleberry Finn. • Through its contrasting river and shore scenes, Twain’s Huckleberry Finn suggests that to find the true expression of American democratic ideals, one must leave “civilized” society and go back to nature. • Boom goes the dynamite. • This represents an interpretation of the novel based on the analysis of its content.