I need help with a thesis statement!?!I am having to write a 7 page research essay on a story in my English 102 book.  I have chosen "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.  I have to use 5-8 scholarly...

I need help with a thesis statement!?!

I am having to write a 7 page research essay on a story in my English 102 book.  I have chosen "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson.  I have to use 5-8 scholarly articles for my essay.  I can write about anything I want, and I have chosen to write about scapegoats.  Can anyone help me come up with a good thesis statement???

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Looks like I'm too late to help you with a thesis for your proposal, but I really like this change in direction.  I'm assume your thesis contains the ideas of mindless repetition of rituals as well as the injustices those rituals can inflict upon the participants.  I would also think you'd have a great opportunity to consider the history of many rituals--sacrifices made to the gods for the good of the group (town, village, whatever). 

I'd encourage you to quit saying you're a terrible writer, as you don't want that to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Just do the next thing, write the best you can, and be sure to utilize whatever writing center help which is available on your campus.  That's what it's there for, and you'll find the one-on-one help invaluable, especially in the areas where you struggle.  Good luck with this essay--I'm sure it'll be your best work yet!


HOW MANY answers do you have here?

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow.  This is an ambitious undertaking, it seems to me, as there is probably little research just on the historical nature of scapegoats.  I love the idea, but I would be struggling to come up with too many reasearchable and recognizable examples, at least without a lot of thought.  En-notes editors are well read and great thinkers, so this is a great forum in which to get some ideas. My immediate thought when I heard scapegoat is Jesus.  I know He's the Son of God and everything happened to him was part of an eternal plan; however, the people did treat him as a scapegoat.  During Passover, when they were given the traditional choice by Pilate to release one prisoner, they released Barabbas--a true criminal--rather than the Jew, Jesus.  He was scapegoated because of His religion.  Joan of Arc is perhaps another who was scapegoated by the church for her supposed heresy.  Have fun with this intriguing idea. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You might also want to think about how this short story shows the way that people just tend to go along with rituals, even when they are unjust, because of the tradition that they have. To my mind, Jackson seems to be making a point about how we tolerate incredible acts of evil because they are part of our culture and psyche and we are not able to step out of ourselves and see them for what they really are. The story thus raises huge issues about how we as humans challenge injustice - or how so often we don't, even when we are involved in the crime.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is no reason that scapegoating and cruelty/violence cannot be connected despite all the bantering back and forth here.  For, the concept of making someone, some creature, a scapegoat is, indeed, cruel and often of a violent nature.  Yet it is innate in man.  Just watch siblings and observe how quickly they try to place blame on another.  Now, of course, they do not (hopefully) try to harm the sibling.  Or observe how quickly people try to save their jobs by blaming someone else, a blame which may cause this person to lose his/her job.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Whatever your thesis is it needs to be something that can be argued. We can't really argue that mindless following of ritual can be harmful--that's a common sense issue. What could be argued is something like "The mindless following of ritual in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is shocking, yes, but no more so than the mindless rituals observed by modern society," or "The use of a scapegoat in Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is appalling, but this is still a trend followed in our more modern society."

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How about another theme in "The Lottery"--the role of rituals, and especially the mindless repetition of them, even without cause.  Why did they keep doing this arcane, outrageous, violent thing?  Because they've always done it.  So maybe researching the role and types of rituals in society?  It's still pretty broad, but I think you'd certainly find some research.  Think of the rituals associated with holidays, coming of age, religion, and frankly hundreds of other things.  Hope that helps!

huntersmommy030508 | Student

Okay!  So everything on my Topic Proposal has changed now...lol  That's a good thing though.  I do think scapegoat was too limited to come up with 7 pages, however, i can incorporate it into my injust rituals topic!?!  How does a title of Ritualistic Injustice sound?  I have to turn in my topic proposal tomorrow morning.  I still don't have a clue how to organize a thesis statement on this topic?!!?  LOL  Did I mention it's been 8 years since I took English Comp 101 and now this 102 class is kicking my butt?!?  I stink at essay writing.  I've got to make a good grade on this though, because my two grades of 65 on my first two essays is going to need a lot of help!  Please help me just a bit more?!?!

huntersmommy030508 | Student

Great thinking!  Although, my assignment is to write concerning the story.  Maybe scapegoat is a too limited topic.  I have no clue what to write about in concers to this story, The Lotter by Shirley Jackson.  Any ideas would be much appreciated.  I'm horrible at writing and especially coming up with a topic idea and thesis statement!