I have to writing a thesis statement for the story "Neighbors"; could you point me in the right direction? Currently, I'm thinking of saying something like self-reflection. But according to my teacher that is a topic, and we're not supposed to have a topic in the thesis statement.

Self-reflection is definitely a relevant topic for this story! To construct a thesis based off of this topic, try to make a unique, defensible argument about the role of self-reflection. For example, you could claim that the recurring image of the mirror helps Carver make a certain point about the causes or power of self-reflection.

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You are on the right track identifying self-reflection as an important theme of this short story! However, the difference between a topic and a thesis is that a thesis is an argumentative statement. In a thesis statement, you should argue something specific about the text that you can support with quotes and facts from the story as well as your own unique analysis.

In the case of “Neighbors,” consider what you think the author Raymond Carver is trying to say about self-reflection. For instance, you might argue that Carver uses the Millers' experience of self-discovery to show how romanticizing the lives of others can lead to a crisis of identity. This would be a thesis statement because it is an original, defensible claim. It argues something specific about what the author does in the story.

Another interesting direction to take this topic would be to explore how Carver develops this theme through figurative language like imagery. For instance, consider how the image of the mirror recurs throughout the story. To construct a thesis on this topic, you could argue something about the way the image of the mirror serves as a symbol of how the Millers' experience at the Stones' causes them to reflect on their own identity.

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