I need help with my thesis statement for a synthesis essay about Night by Elie Wiesel and The Cage by Ruth Minster Sender. My thesis statement is, "Although dire situations often drive people to do horrible things in order to survive, there are still examples of people retaining their humanity and helping one another, even when this means potential danger for them."


My evidence is Elie's reluctance to give his soup to his father and his subsequent feelings of guilt, as well as the Jews who afflicted pain on other Jews as a means of survival. My first paragraph is the following:

From reading to writing we are taught that in every story, there are good guys and bad guys—protagonists and antagonists. In regards to the Holocaust things, are not so black and white. A glimpse of this deception can be rationalized through two autobiographies: Night by Elie Wiesel and The Cage by Ruth Minster Sender. Both start off with it being quite obvious who the bad guys are, as they afflict pain and suffering on the innocent. However, as both stories progress, animalistic instincts take over the majority of people, forcing the Jews to be equally as cruel as the Nazis and leaving what can only be described as animals who choose their own triumph and survival over that of others. When good people are put in bad situations, bad things are the inevitable outcome. In contrast to this belief, when some people are surrounded with such brutality, they will respond with unexpected empathy, flourishing in the most unlikely of places. These people are rare but not nonexistent. Although dire situations often drive people to do horrible things in order to survive, there are still examples in which people retain their humanity and help one another, even if it means potential danger to themselves.

Please give me feedback/any changes you see that need to be made!

Expert Answers

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I will tailor this answer to the thesis statement and first paragraph feedback, and I will provide advice on where to go with the following essay.

As a first paragraph, it is a solid start. I would recommend some changes to the first sentence. The first change is to get rid of the first-person "we." That is generally unaccepted in formal educational writing. You can substitute "we" with something like "the reader" or "readers." My other first sentence recommendation is to find a better hook. The first sentence is good, and it makes a good point; however, it is not exciting to read. The first sentence needs to immediately draw your reader into the paragraph and make him/her want to read the rest of the paragraph. Use a quote from one of those books or ask your reader a question.

Regarding the final thesis statement of the first paragraph, that is a solid piece of writing. It wonderfully sets up two sides of an argument and is quite specific in announcing to readers what evidence the paper is going to bring forth. The next paragraph (or two) of the paper should address the first part of the thesis statement. You need to show your readers how characters were forced to do terrible things in order to survive. You can combine evidence from both novels into a single paragraph here, but my recommendation would be to do a paragraph of evidence for each novel. The next paragraphs should focus on how despite survival instincts being strong the characters still managed to retain their humanity and goodness toward each other. Using the soup evidence that you mentioned is good, because it shows how the instinct was there, but the goodness trumped it.

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