I'm writing an analytical essay on The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck. Please suggest a possible thesis statement.

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The basic writing prompt is fairly wide open.  The analytical essay only needs to be about "The Chrysanthemums."  That allows you the freedom to choose the direction for your analysis.  I recommend doing a character analysis or a theme analysis.  Between the two, I would choose theme because that allows you to analyze characters who illustrate the theme.  The themes of dissatisfaction and/or isolation work well with this story.  

Once you have picked the general topic that you want to write about, you need to narrow it down to a specific thesis statement.  Remember, a thesis statement is going to make an argument that the body of the essay attempts to prove.  A good thesis is not a statement of fact.  Then there is nothing to argue and prove.

I recommend two thesis formats.  The first is essentially a "statement, example(s)" format.  A possible thesis regarding this story that fits this format might be something like the following: "The theme of dissatisfaction is prevalent throughout the story and is most seen in Elisa and Henry." 

The other thesis format I recommend is a "point and rebuttal" format.  Your main argument is actually the rebuttal.  The first point of the thesis statement is something you intend to disprove.  Start this thesis format with the word "although" because it forces a dependent clause that must be followed up with the rebuttal written as an independent clause. An example could be: "Although Elisa's dissatisfaction contributes to her actions, her isolation is more to blame than anything else."

edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

An analytical essay of a short story is often approached as an examination of how the techniques the author uses work to create meaning or develop a theme in the story.

For example, the setting of "The Chrysanthemums" is important because it helps with the characterization of Elisa. Elisa lives a rural life that requires a good deal of self-sufficiency, independence, and strength. A thesis to develop a paper on the relationship between setting and characterization could read like this: Though farm life has made Elisa strong, resourceful, and self-sufficient, isolation in the country makes her vulnerable to the casual cruelty of the tinker.

An essay with this thesis would provide the latitude to analyze how and why a capable and beautiful woman could be hurt by someone whom she doesn't know and is unlikely to meet again.

rshaffer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All three of your suggestions will work for a thesis statement in John Steinbeck's "The Chrysanthemums."

You might want to form a thesis statement showing how symbolism enhances the imagery in the short story. If this doesn't prove to be enough for the length of your essay, you could add other figurative language that enhances the imagery of the short story.

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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The Chrysanthemums

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