In my college lit. class we are writing a literary analysis of themes on A Separate Peace, I am having trouble with coming up with a thesis.The thesis about internal conflicts with the characters...

In my college lit. class we are writing a literary analysis of themes on A Separate Peace, I am having trouble with coming up with a thesis.

The thesis about internal conflicts with the characters in A Seperate Peace.

Expert Answers
sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Focusing on the theme of internal conflicts within individual characters is a good choice for a thesis and the following paper. There is plenty to work with in the novel. Leper, Phineas, and Gene are all filled with internal conflict.  

The first thing to remember about a thesis statement is that it is most often a single sentence. The second thing is that the thesis will make an argument. It will not simply be a statement of fact. The goal is to make a claim that the paper then tries to prove by providing supporting evidence.  

I generally teach students two different thesis statement forms. The first is what I call the "point and reason(s)"  format. Just like it sounds, the statement says an arguable point and provides quick, straightforward reasons to back it up. For this novel and your chosen thesis area, a thesis with this format might be something like the following: "Gene's internal conflict is the most dangerous conflict in the novel because it destroys him, his relationship with Phineas, and his relationship with the entire group."  

The second thesis format that I like to use is the "point and counter-point" thesis style. This type of thesis requires you state an argument and follow it up with the argument that will disprove the first argument. I like this thesis statement style because it guides the paper into admitting that your argument is not the only possible opinion; however, by the end of the paper, your own argument should be strong enough to convince your readers that the other argument is not as strong. I usually recommend starting this kind of thesis statement with the word "although." This will force a dependent clause in the first half of the sentence that contains the first argument.  The following independent clause will contain the main argument. Modifying my first thesis into this kind of thesis is not difficult. "Although several characters have powerful and important internal conflicts, it is Gene's internal conflict that ultimately drives the story toward its sad ending."

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A thesis statement gives a summary of the major point you intend to make in your writing. You are being asked to address the internal conflicts being experienced by one of the characters in A Separate Peace. This means your first decision is choosing which character you want to discuss in your analysis.

Once you have chosen your character, you can begin to consider the conflicts he experiences and the reasons for them. If you choose to use Gene as your subject, he experiences inner conflict with Finny throughout the story. Gene is basically pretty insecure regarding his abilities and position within the group of friends. He frequently suspects Finny of trying to undermine Gene's efforts as a student and as a friend, but he always comes back to treasuring Finny's friendship and finding himself the weaker of the pair.

Your thesis could address the simple fact of the conflict, or you might want to suggest a reason or reasons why the conflict exists. Then you would use the rest of your paper to support your proposal.

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A Separate Peace

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