How I Met My Husband

by Alice Munro

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How do you write a thesis for Alice Munro's "How I Met My Husband"?

Quick answer:

It's a solid thesis because it is based on the characters and their perception of the situation. It isn't about the story as a whole, though; it's about the characters throughout the story.

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When writing a paper, there should always be a central point or message that you are attempting to get across. You should be able to write this central point out in a thesis statement, which will introduce the individual reading the paper to the point you are trying to make.

For "How I Met My Husband," there are several different approaches that one could take in attempting to write a thesis statement. You could look at the story itself and identify common themes, such as those of naivete and innocence and the role that they play in a young woman's relationships. However, one could also look at even deeper themes if they were to critique the story from a feminist point of view, as it focuses deeply on women and women's lives.

I suggest that you read the story with a critical eye. Consider your opinions regarding the themes, the characters, and the plot, and then try writing a specific argument that underlies your opinions. Be sure that you are able to find evidence to support your statement. A good thesis statement is clear and concise, but it is also well-supported by the evidence that you display within your paper.

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One must define a few different things prior to writing a thesis. First, one must define what the focus of the essay will be (essentially, what will the point of the essay be?). Second, one must define what mode of rhetoric (type of essay) will best suit the purpose, or point, of the essay. For example, is the essayist comparing and contrasting, stating a cause and effect, defining, or persuading? The defining of the type of essay will help the essayist define what type of thesis will best suit the purpose and type of essay.

In order to construct a thesis for Alice Munro's "How I Met My Husband,"  one must first define what it is he or she wishes to focus upon. For one, the essayist could focus upon the numerous themes highlighted in the text. By doing so, one could define the success for which each theme is defined (resulting in a cause and effect essay). One could also examine, through a causal chain, the chronological order of events which lead the main character through the text. A final example of an essay's focus would be to persuade the reader that Edie's naive character leads to her own enlightenment. 

A thesis, then, must define the point of the essay and what the essayist intends to prove. For example, if the essayist intends to argue that one decision can change the entire direction a person's life could take, he or she could define a thesis as stating that Edie's choice to dress up and put on makeup pushes her life in a very unexpected direction (illustrating a cause and effect). This simplistic choice marks a change in life greater than simply putting on makeup and nicer clothing. 

Keep in mind that a thesis does three very specific things: 1) it presents the topic; 2) states an opinion (either an assumed or stated opinion); and 3) offers a "blueprint" for the layout of the essay (defining how the essay will progress). Here is an example of a strong thesis (which does not relate to Munro's story). 

Alexander Pope proves that a poet who writes literally using figurative language is better than one who pretends to write and wastes time “practicing” things which mean nothing.

 Here, the topic is Pope and figurative language; the opinion is that literal writing (including figurative language) is better than than wasting time practicing the art of figurative language, and that the "blueprint" will look at both literal use (which is successful) and wasted practice (which is unsuccessful).

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What are some good thesis statements that could be written in an essay about "How I Met My Husband" by Alice Munro?

A thesis makes an argument that you intend to prove with evidence from the text. It could legitimately be about all kinds of different topics and still be a solid thesis statement. Is there something specific about the story or the characters that really grabs you and makes you think about something? If that is the case, then formulate your thesis around that idea. If you are coming up blank, then stick with a thesis that does either a theme analysis or a character analysis. More often than not, those two will blend together anyway, as one tends to support the other. For this story, there are definitely themes of love, falling in love, coming of age because of love, falling out of love, and the like; however, I think there's more to the story than simple love and heartbreak. I think at the story's core is a theme of self-deception and reality, or perception vs. reality. The essay could compare and contrast Edie's, Alice's, and even Mrs. Peebles's warped perception of their reality. Perhaps the thesis could be something like the following:

Although the reality of the situation is painfully obvious to readers, both Alice and Edie continually deceive themselves about their relationship with Chris.

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