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Help with my thesis statement: Over the summer, I was given the assignment to write a 3...

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majormiles | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 25, 2009 at 6:24 AM via web

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Help with my thesis statement:

Over the summer, I was given the assignment to write a 3 page essay on The Kite Runner. The topic was not given. I just want to know if this thesis statement is good enough to write three pages on.

Rahim Khan was more of a father to Amir then Amir's Baba ever was.

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alohaspirit | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted June 25, 2009 at 2:01 PM (Answer #2)

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I think for your thesis you should really think about the moral of the story and go with a more general type of thesis that looks at the whole point of the book. 

Example:

The struggle of finding oneself is a journey through the darkness to find the light. 

 

It would be great to focus on Amir's journey in discovering who he is by going back to his hometown and seeing the changes that have occurred.

 

You do not have to use that exact idea, but I think you should go in the direction of looking at the BIG IDEA of the story.

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted June 25, 2009 at 3:51 PM (Answer #3)

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The more general your thesis statement is, the more difficult it is to write it.  For example, if your thesis is, Rahim Khan was more of a father to Amir then Amir's Baba ever was, then where do you go from there?

You have no controlling ideas in your thesis statement and it will be difficult for you to synthesize ideas.  What you should do is construct a thesis that has controlling ideas.  This will help you to focus on your development. For example, Rahim Khan's actions and words, and Baba's dereliction reveal that Rahim is more of a father to Amir than Baba ever was.

Then your paragraphs are:

1) Rahim's actions

2) Rahim's words

3) Baba's dereliction

4) Great conclusion

An essay is easier to write if you have an explicit thesis statement and list controlling ideas to give you better organization and structure.

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted June 25, 2009 at 6:48 PM (Answer #4)

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I would also like to add that your thesis doesn't have to be the theme. Your thesis can be as narrow or as broad as you want.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 25, 2009 at 7:32 PM (Answer #5)

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I think you need to revise your thesis a little, not because it is too limited, but because it is completely unqualified. For instance, was he more of a father in every way or in some ways? Rahim didn't support Amir financially, providing him with a lovely home, good food, clothes, an education. And Rahim didn't risk his life to get Amir out of Afghanistan. And Rahim didn't work hard at a dirty job and sell junk on the weekends to put Amir through school. And finally, Rahim didn't ignore his own terminal illness to put on a suit and go with Amir to win Soroya's hand. These were all Baba's actions.

So, qualify your thesis. "In some significant ways, Rahim was a better father to Amir than Baba was." This takes out the idea of "in all ways" and "ever." This is a thesis you can explain and support in three well developed main body paragraphs.

Now you need a working outline. What are three important ways Rahim acted as a father to Amir? I would suggest these. He understood Amir because he listened to him, he encouraged Amir, and he accepted him for the boy he was, instead of criticizing him. Each of these could be a main point in the body of your paper, and you would introduce each point in a topic sentence for a main body paragraph. In each paragraph, of course, you would have to establish that Baba did not do these things, or you could transition to another paragraph to discuss Baba.

But back to writing your thesis. Since your teacher didn't give you any specific guidelines in selecting topics, I think focusing on these two characters would be very appropriate for a 3-page essay, remembering that your paper should also have a well developed introduction and conclusion. If you decide to write about some aspect of the novel as a whole, make sure to limit your thesis so that you can cover it in your essay.

The last thing I would add is that my understanding of a controlling idea is a bit different from #3 post. A controlling idea as I understand it is just another term for a thesis statement. The thesis states the main idea that the paper will explain and support; it will control the direction and development of the paper. Within the thesis, a writer can choose to include a catalog of the main points to be addressed, but a good thesis is the controlling idea of the paper, with or without including the main points.

The practice of putting main points into the thesis statement shows how writing instruction has changed. There was a time long, long ago (!) when students were taught not to put a catalog into the thesis. They were to introduce each main point as the paper developed, using transitions between paragraphs. Some years ago, however, this changed in many classrooms. Teachers started encouraging their students to include the main points in their thesis statements. I think this change occurred probably to help students make sure they did, in fact, have main points to explain and support. Whether a writer puts them in or leaves them out, the important thing is to make sure you have them! Good luck with your paper!

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majormiles | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 26, 2009 at 6:51 AM (Answer #6)

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I think you need to revise your thesis a little, not because it is too limited, but because it is completely unqualified. For instance, was he more of a father in every way or in some ways? Rahim didn't support Amir financially, providing him with a lovely home, good food, clothes, an education. And Rahim didn't risk his life to get Amir out of Afghanistan. And Rahim didn't work hard at a dirty job and sell junk on the weekends to put Amir through school. And finally, Rahim didn't ignore his own terminal illness to put on a suit and go with Amir to win Soroya's hand. These were all Baba's actions.

So, qualify your thesis. "In some significant ways, Rahim was a better father to Amir than Baba was." This takes out the idea of "in all ways" and "ever." This is a thesis you can explain and support in three well developed main body paragraphs.

Now you need a working outline. What are three important ways Rahim acted as a father to Amir? I would suggest these. He understood Amir because he listened to him, he encouraged Amir, and he accepted him for the boy he was, instead of criticizing him. Each of these could be a main point in the body of your paper, and you would introduce each point in a topic sentence for a main body paragraph. In each paragraph, of course, you would have to establish that Baba did not do these things, or you could transition to another paragraph to discuss Baba.

But back to writing your thesis. Since your teacher didn't give you any specific guidelines in selecting topics, I think focusing on these two characters would be very appropriate for a 3-page essay, remembering that your paper should also have a well developed introduction and conclusion. If you decide to write about some aspect of the novel as a whole, make sure to limit your thesis so that you can cover it in your essay.

The last thing I would add is that my understanding of a controlling idea is a bit different from #3 post. A controlling idea as I understand it is just another term for a thesis statement. The thesis states the main idea that the paper will explain and support; it will control the direction and development of the paper. Within the thesis, a writer can choose to include a catalog of the main points to be addressed, but a good thesis is the controlling idea of the paper, with or without including the main points.

The practice of putting main points into the thesis statement shows how writing instruction has changed. There was a time long, long ago (!) when students were taught not to put a catalog into the thesis. They were to introduce each main point as the paper developed, using transitions between paragraphs. Some years ago, however, this changed in many classrooms. Teachers started encouraging their students to include the main points in their thesis statements. I think this change occurred probably to help students make sure they did, in fact, have main points to explain and support. Whether a writer puts them in or leaves them out, the important thing is to make sure you have them! Good luck with your paper!

thank you for your help. i figured out the many flaws of my statement a few hours after posting it. thank god i didn't start writing yet :-)

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 27, 2009 at 4:34 AM (Answer #7)

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For a three-age essay, I wouldn't suggest making the thesis very broad.  You have the right idea of narrowing it; otherwise you could write 300 pages and you have a limit of three. Focus on what you want your reader to know after he or she has finished reading.  Then give three reasons why you believe this to be true.  Don't forget to support each reason with examples from the story.  It should look something like this:

Intro with thesis

A. First reason why thesis is true

    1. Examples and proof from the story to prove your first

    2. reason to be true

    3.

B. Second  reason why thesis is true

    1. Examples and proof from the story to prove your second

    2. reason to be true

    3.

C. Third reason why thesis is true

    1. Examples and proof from the story to prove your third

    2. reason to be true

    3.

Conclusion which reminds readers of your thesis but isn't repetitive and redundant.

Good Luck!

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted June 27, 2009 at 5:49 AM (Answer #8)

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I think you need to revise your thesis a little, not because it is too limited, but because it is completely unqualified. For instance, was he more of a father in every way or in some ways? Rahim didn't support Amir financially, providing him with a lovely home, good food, clothes, an education. And Rahim didn't risk his life to get Amir out of Afghanistan. And Rahim didn't work hard at a dirty job and sell junk on the weekends to put Amir through school. And finally, Rahim didn't ignore his own terminal illness to put on a suit and go with Amir to win Soroya's hand. These were all Baba's actions.

So, qualify your thesis. "In some significant ways, Rahim was a better father to Amir than Baba was." This takes out the idea of "in all ways" and "ever." This is a thesis you can explain and support in three well developed main body paragraphs.

Now you need a working outline. What are three important ways Rahim acted as a father to Amir? I would suggest these. He understood Amir because he listened to him, he encouraged Amir, and he accepted him for the boy he was, instead of criticizing him. Each of these could be a main point in the body of your paper, and you would introduce each point in a topic sentence for a main body paragraph. In each paragraph, of course, you would have to establish that Baba did not do these things, or you could transition to another paragraph to discuss Baba.

But back to writing your thesis. Since your teacher didn't give you any specific guidelines in selecting topics, I think focusing on these two characters would be very appropriate for a 3-page essay, remembering that your paper should also have a well developed introduction and conclusion. If you decide to write about some aspect of the novel as a whole, make sure to limit your thesis so that you can cover it in your essay.

The last thing I would add is that my understanding of a controlling idea is a bit different from #3 post. A controlling idea as I understand it is just another term for a thesis statement. The thesis states the main idea that the paper will explain and support; it will control the direction and development of the paper. Within the thesis, a writer can choose to include a catalog of the main points to be addressed, but a good thesis is the controlling idea of the paper, with or without including the main points.

The practice of putting main points into the thesis statement shows how writing instruction has changed. There was a time long, long ago (!) when students were taught not to put a catalog into the thesis. They were to introduce each main point as the paper developed, using transitions between paragraphs. Some years ago, however, this changed in many classrooms. Teachers started encouraging their students to include the main points in their thesis statements. I think this change occurred probably to help students make sure they did, in fact, have main points to explain and support. Whether a writer puts them in or leaves them out, the important thing is to make sure you have them! Good luck with your paper!

"The last thing I would add is that my understanding of a controlling idea is a bit different from #3 post. A controlling idea as I understand it is just another term for a thesis statement."

Reference books that we use at school detail the definitions of controlling ideas, and the difference between explicit and implicit thesis statements. Controlling ideas are the explicit components that reveal a thesis statement to be true. We use very explicit textbooks here from Edgar Roberts that begin the process of writing explicit thesis statements from one sentence in the 9th grade to a chapter long in the 12th grade.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 27, 2009 at 8:53 AM (Answer #9)

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Really interesting. The text I use in college freshman comp includes none of that, nor did my high school texts back in the dark ages (ten years ago.) Did you say a thesis that is a chapter long?! Where did that idea come from? At what point would the thesis then become explanation, or is a chapter-long thesis really an introduction leading to a thesis statement?

Have you encountered texts other than Roberts' that take the same approach? Now I'm going to have to go find an updated MLA and see what those people have to say! Call me a traditionalist, but I don't think elements of proof belong in the thesis; they belong in the paper, with the thesis establishing clearly and concisely the idea that the writer will explain and support.

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epollock | Valedictorian

Posted June 28, 2009 at 12:38 AM (Answer #10)

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Really interesting. The text I use in college freshman comp includes none of that, nor did my high school texts back in the dark ages (ten years ago.) Did you say a thesis that is a chapter long?! Where did that idea come from? At what point would the thesis then become explanation, or is a chapter-long thesis really an introduction leading to a thesis statement?

Have you encountered texts other than Roberts' that take the same approach? Now I'm going to have to go find an updated MLA and see what those people have to say! Call me a traditionalist, but I don't think elements of proof belong in the thesis; they belong in the paper, with the thesis establishing clearly and concisely the idea that the writer will explain and support.

Ms Hurn, in the 9th grade at our school, we teach students to write thesis statements as a sentence at the end of the introduction. Then as they progress, through our vertical integration program, we teach them to write theses statements that are longer, more complex and varied. In the 11th grade, their theses statements are generally at least a paragraph long, and most are able to produce for their senior research project, a thesis that is a chapter long.

The definition of an explicit thesis statement is a thesis statement with the controlling ideas listed.

One doesn't have to look far and wide for the concepts, just type thesis into any internet browser to find material such as:

http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0geu5w8XEdKbuIAx6NXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTBybnZlZnRlBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkAw--/SIG=132ttki4e/EXP=1246277052/**http%3a//www.chesapeake.edu/faculty/Wefelmeyer/ENG082DevelopingaThesis_sum05.pdf

or http://ol.scc.spokane.edu/cbucher/wtw/thesis.htm

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 28, 2009 at 8:47 PM (Answer #11)

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Back to #10 (epollock), I pulled up the sites you mention and found some info that seems pertinent to the discussion. This is from http://ol.scc.spokane.edu/cbucher/wtw/thesis.htm

  1. An implicit thesis is not stated in one specific statement, rather after the reader finishes reading the report, she knows exactly what the point of it is.
  2. An explicit is a specific statement which contains the subject, purpose, focus and the writer's point-of-view about those. Fact plus opinion is one way to envision the explicit thesis.

According to these people, then, an implicit thesis is one that is only implied and not stated at all. I guess it lives only in the writer's mind. An explicit thesis states directly what the writer will explain and support in the paper.

A couple of examples given:

Right: Computers cause problems in the classroom and should be banned.

Right: Computers should be used in the classroom, as they are tools that help students achieve success.

This site is more detailed:

http://www.chesapeake.edu/faculty/Wefelmeyer/ENG082DevelopingaThesis_sum05.pdf

It won't let me copy/paste, but it suggests various steps to take in fashioning a thesis. One step is to write an explicit thesis statement that is the type you mentioned, with the points of argument listed.

Then, the point is made that whether or not to use the explicit thesis is up to the writer, IF the writer has a working outline and knows where the paper is going. In other words, using an explicit thesis is not required. (This is the method I've always taught, writing from a simple working outline of main points to stay on track in explaining and supporting the thesis.) The additional point is made on the site that using an explicit thesis is one way of making sure the writer stays on track. I think I have paraphrased accurately here what I just read.

More on the site points to the concept of developing thesis statements into thesis paragraphs, which seems to be the approach taken at your school. It doesn't go into detail, though, as to how this is achieved.

What I'm thinking now is that there are a variety of approaches in writing thesis statements and not one "correct" method. I'm still curious to find out if this expanded concept of thesis writing has been incorporated into current textbooks or is found only in educational websites, so far.

Also, please give me some ideas as to how you would direct your students to turn a simple thesis statement into a thesis paragraph. I want to see if we are doing the same thing but calling it different names.

Does anyone else have experience with these different approaches? How is thesis writing taught in your school?

 

 

 

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