Needs to be an argument. Ask yourself, “Would someone disagree with me?” If someone
cannot find a counter-argument, then you do not have a claim.
Needs to be specific. Address what you will be talking about in detail. Do not say, “Throughout
the story we see the narrator change.” This leaves your reader wondering: What kind of
change? Why does this change occur? What was the narrator like before he changed?
Thesis A: In Carver’s “Cathedral”, we see a narrator that changes from being “blind” and ignorant to a
caring person who is able to “see.”
This thesis creates many questions for the reader: How is the narrator “blind?” What causes him to be
able to see? Is there a specific moment of series of events that caused growth? Who caused the growth?
Did anyone else change? Is the change permanent?
By thinking about and answering these questions, your thesis will be focused and will
help you will move into analysis.
Thesis B: In Carver’s “Cathedral” there is an interesting relationship between the narrator and the
blind man. The narrator acts like the blind man’s son in that the narrator observes him, emulates him
and eventually learns about himself through him. The narrator is very infantile and matures with the
help of an emotionally stable father figure that is Robert.
Thesis A: In Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” Sarty’s opinions of his father waver; he wants to defend him
while at the same time he resents him. Sarty’s indecision towards his father shows that Sarty will regret
his decision to break ties with his family.
Thesis B: In Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” Sarty’s opinions of his father waver; he wants to defend him
while at the same time he resents him. Sarty’s moment of action against his father’s barn burning
proves he decides to go with his morals, rather than his family.
Why are these strong theses?
Arguable: they force you to provide textual evidence to prove your argument
Specific: they both address the moment of change for the character: “decision to
break ties with his family” and “Sarty’s moment of action…”
Clear, concise, direct. You know what the author will argue and their opinion is
A thesis is always a work in progress. As you write will be revising your thesis as your thoughts
develop. Do not assume you start with a strong thesis and then write a strong paper. The process of
writing helps to develop our ideas, so when you first sit down to write it is only the start and will
require changes. Do not be afraid to make changes as you go along.
SUMMARY vs. ANALYSIS
Summary is repeating the events, it’s what we do all the time and comes very natural to us. Analysis is
looking beyond what is on the page. It is thinking about why the author made specific choices and why
the characters behave certain ways.
After you write a paragraph, ask yourself, “So what?” Asking yourself questions as you read and write
is extremely important. Notice on your Quotes and Notes, and Paper #1, I asked you a lot of questions.
These questions are to help deepen your thinking. Go back and reread my questions and see if you can
Summary: In “Sweat,” Sykes is a terrible husband and Delia is the victim of his abuse. His death is
justified by his bad behavior. Even the townspeople thought Sykes was a horrible husband and said he
Analysis: It would be hard to dismiss the religious imagery in “Sweat.” Delia is afraid of snakes, while
her hateful husband acts like a snake-charmer. The reference to the Garden of Eden is undeniable.
However, Hurston’s version of the biblical scene paints a different picture than the Christian version.
In the Garden of Eden, Eve is the cause of the fall of man. In “Sweat” Delia is constantly provoked by
her husband. Although he “tempts” her with anger and hate, she does not give in. Sykes, the Adam
figure, brings in the snake that eventually causes his downfall. Hurston’s version of the Garden of
Eden is a nod to the Christian version, however, she shows how women can be tempted by men to their
USING QUOTES/CLOSE READING
Quotes are your evidence. In a courtroom an attorney would not walk in, place a smoking gun in front
of the jury and sit down. Instead, the attorney shows the evidence and EXPLAINS how it relates to
case. Quotes, like a smoking gun, need to be explained as to how they pertain to your argument. Do
not assume your reader interprets the quote in the same way you do. If a quote is so simple that it does
not need to be explained, it should not be in your paper.
Another way to look at quotes is by using the metaphor of a “hit and run”. Many papers had a quote
and left it there, all alone. The reader is hit with a quote, while the writer runs to another idea. This is
illegal and is a writing violation.
If the last two metaphors were too violent, then think of an innocent “Quote Sandwich”. The first layer
of bread is your intro to the quote. The meat is the actual quote. The bottom layer is your close
reading/analysis of the quote.
If you want to get fancy, a sophisticated way to use quotes is corporate them directly into your
sentences: Hurston describes the snake in Luciferian terms: the snake was "pouring his awful
beauty from the basket upon the bed" (206).
A title is like a preview to the movie. It lets the reader know what to anticipate. Create a title that is
provocative. “Paper #1” is boring. “Delia’s Garden: Looking at Religious Undertones in Hurston’s
‘Sweat’” is much more alluring. Think of the title as a way to excite the reader.