By the end of this week, you should comprehend what a thesis statement is, how to identify a thesis, and how to write one. The fundamental question you must ask yourself is “how does a thesis statement differ from a ‘normal’ sentence?” Thesis statements by their very nature are unique sentences because the bear the job of tying together the whole essay. If it were not for the thesis, the essay would not have any direction, it would not have any focus, and readers would not know the purpose of the essay. Needless to say, the thesis is the single-most important, necessary set of words in any given essay. It is so important that without a thesis, I could not give your essay a passing grade, for it is the fundamental building block of a piece of prose. Thesis statements don’t just jump out at us and advertise themselves, but they are pretty easy to locate if you keep a few things in mind. First, remember that a thesis expresses an opinion or claim, or main point about the essay as a whole.
Think of the thesis as the brain of the essay, the central nervous system. This claim or assertion that the thesis makes is not a small one. No. It actually states a claim that is broad enough to cover all the material you mention in the essay. If you prefer to think imagistically, picture the tentacles of an octopus reaching out from the center of the body. No matter what that octopus does, those tentacles always lead back to the brain of the sea creature. Likewise every word in your essay must have some direct or indirect connection to the claim in the thesis. If you can’t demonstrate how the sentences relate back to the thesis, then the essay probably has digressed somewhere and that’s why the sentences don’t have any connection to the thesis. You will want to start off every essay with a well developed introductory paragraph. Remember the criteria we discussed a couple classes ago on the structure of a well-written essay.
Let’s break down what is going on in this paragraph. In the first sentence of the paragraph, examine how the word “retarded” is used. The sentence makes somewhat of a startling statement. Technology and “retarded” seem to be opposites, right? Hopefully, a careful reader will notice the unconventional arrangement of these words and be curious enough to read on. You might be wondering what makes a good thesis statement. First it must be very precise. Words are carefully chosen (this is called diction) to convey the essay’s main point clearly. Because the thesis is the most important sentence in the entire essay, you want to spend some time on it, honing it, carving it out so that its diction is sharp, piercing. The one above is a generalized thesis because it does not map out the 4 forms of retarded technology (remember the class lecture about mapped versus generalized thesis statements). You can use either a mapped thesis or a generalized thesis in your exemplification essay. Bad thesis statements will be vague and not express an assertion or a claim. Bad thesis statement will also announce the essay. Never write a thesis that announces an essay.
That’s one of the differences between high school essays and college essays. In my essay, I will give 4 kinds of retarded technology. In this essay, we will discuss retarded technology that is worthless. I agree with Samuelson that there are other kinds of technology that are retarded and my essay will talk about 4 more kinds. As you can see, all of these “thesis statements” announce what the essay will be about. This method creates a very casual, informal tone in the essay. While you don’t want your writing to sound stuffy, you do want your language to speak with authority, and you want it to sound professional. When you compare these 3 examples with to the one above, you can see the obvious contrast between them and the one listed in the thesis statement in the indented paragraph above. Overall, carving out a well crafted, carefully constructed thesis is well worth your time invested. Though you always should think of it as a tentative thesis or claim because you want to allow yourself the freedom to adjust it throughout the writing process as your draft develops and evolves. It’s okay to tweak your words in the thesis to fit new thoughts or directions your main body paragraphs are taking you. Keeping your thesis in focus this way can only help you write a better essay.
The problem stems from cultural differences. Very few people know how to evaluate a new cultural environment, and relate it to their past life style. We all know what is wrong with our present situation, but we are ill equipped to judge what may be wrong with a change. One good example is one I know of first hand. A Young Chinese couple emigrated from Beijing with their two year old daughter. They stayed in my home for about three months until they found a suitable apartment. Now anyone who knows anything at all about life in Beijing would naturally assume that they were much better off in Canada, and they were, by our (Canadian and American) standards. However, they could not adjust to all the differences, and were back in Beijing within a year. They did not trust our traditional medicine, and nearly caused harm to their child because they did not understand that penicillin must be given as prescribed.