Objective: Another take at the evolving thesis process and use of complicating evidence and how to apply to Gilead.
Reading Assignment: Finish Gilead
Suggested Reading: Writing Analytically, Recognizing and Fixing Weak Thesis Statements
First of all, review the week 4 lesson “Evolving Thesis (Take 1).” Let’s begin with the thesis statement, your working thesis. Most of the problems of the weaker essays on Blink can be traced to a weak working thesis. Your thesis has to be a claim (a point) that is an arguable one. Stating the obvious will not produce an evolving thesis let alone an analytical essay. Perhaps you are accustomed to a thesis that is not an arguable claim because you’ve been trained to see your thesis as an answer to prove in your essay with 3 examples that confirm it. So you might think that “Though thin-slicing is an act that has many advantages, it also comes with disadvantages as well” or “Gilead is about generations, specifically the relations between father and son.” are good working theses. Think about it. How will you develop the essay with those thesis statements? Find 3 examples of advantages and disadvantages of thin-slicing and 3 examples that show how Gilead presents the relationship between father and son. That is not a good essay. Basically with 3 different examples you are repeating the working thesis instead of developing it. You are not developing it, nor are you making it evolve. How can you improve those two example thesis statements? Ask and answer the so what question. So what about the advantages and disadvantages of thin-slicing? What can we learn from knowing this? What is it you want to explore or find out? Ask the same questions about the father/son relationship. Your tentative answer is your working thesis. It’s tentative because the working thesis begins your inquiry into the topic. You can also pose your analytical question(s) about the topic. Why does Robinson focus on the father/son relationship? What does it have to do with what she wants to say about generations, history, memory, etc.? Your tentative answer to the analytical questions is your working thesis. Now that you have a working thesis you can find an example from the text that you think best represents your working thesis. “Best represents” means that you will be able to explain its connection to your working thesis AND you will be able to focus your succeeding claims on the representative example AS A WAY OF QUERYING your working thesis, a way of developing and not repeating your working thesis. Your first body paragraph concentrates on establishing your representative example. Cite the representative example and make the connections between it and your working thesis. Your first claim addresses the representative example in light of your working thesis. Make a point that will help you to develop your working thesis. You can look at it this way: explain what you consider to be your first evidence you want to examine, your first evidence that you want your reader to encounter. Most writers find evidence that supports and confirms the working thesis in order to establish a focus and direction of inquiry early in the body of the essay. Your next evidence is evidence that will complicate your working thesis, evidence that will force you to explain it in relation to your working thesis, and as a result, in your explanation you will make your working thesis evolve. Yet another way of looking at this process is to ask and answer the so what question as the way to figure out what to write next in succeeding paragraphs. In other words, once you have finished a paragraph in which you make a connection between supporting evidence and claim, so what about what I have just explained? Your answer will generate the next paragraph where you will examine complicating evidence. You will articulate your evolved thesis in your explanation of complicating evidence. You can also create what’s called a transition paragraph where you can articulate your evolved thesis. Transition paragraphs or points of transition are one of the most important places in analytical essays because they reflect the writer’s thinking about the topic. Isolating your evolved thesis in a short transition paragraph signals to the reader that that sentence is so important it warrants its own paragraph.
In analytical essays about texts you need to find in each body paragraph a good balance between analysis and summary. Too much summary means most likely that your thesis is weak, that it is a statement that will produce plot summary (like the examples above). It you have too much analysis, you have assumed that the reader has read the text that you are analyzing. In order to have an effective balance, remember that you should set up and establish your point first with some summary and then explain the significance of what you just described. The analytical part should be equal to or greater than the summary part.
Your topic for the essay on Gilead is up to you. Start noticing repetitions, strands, and binaries in order to come up with an idea about which to write.