Does a braided personal essay have a thesis statement?

A braided essay which is published in a magazine or journal may have a thesis statement added by a sub-editor as a subtitle. The essay is unlikely to begin with a thesis statement, since this would spoil the braided structure, but may end with one. The function of which is to draw the strands together with a unifying idea.

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A braided personal essay is a fairly complex form of writing in which at least two topics, ideas, or events are woven together. For instance, in Jo Ann Beard's personal essay, "The Fourth State of Matter," which appeared in The New Yorker in 1996, the author alternates between the breakdown of her marriage, the task of caring for her dying dog, and the shooting that took place in the physics department where she works. All these strands of the braided essay contribute to a central idea of chaos and the author's inability to control or make sense of the world around her.

Although there is a thesis in Beard's essay, it would spoil the structure to begin with an overt thesis statement. However, the essay has a subtitle (which, in line with common editorial practice, may well have been added by a sub-editor) which reads, "A week in the author’s life when it became impossible to control the course of events." This may be regarded as a very brief thesis statement, and it is fairly common for sub-editors to sum up the main idea of essays they publish in this way. If a braided essay does not include such a subtitle, it may (but does not have to) include a thesis statement, but this is more likely to be at the end than at the beginning, drawing the strands together with a general observation.

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