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A Thesis Statement IS NOT • The subject Julia Alvarez’s Something to Declare Julia Alvarez’s “Family Matters”
A Thesis Statement IS NOT • Too broad Julia Alvarez’s “First Muse” comments on “the need for self-invention” (145). Julia Alvarez’s “So Much Depends” comments on the psychological implications of cultural duality.
A Thesis Statement IS NOT • An observation, an obvious statement of fact or a plot detail. Julia Alvarez’s “So Much Depends” portrays the writer’s sense of division as she is caught between two cultural worlds. In “Grandfather’s Blessing,” Julia Alvarez displays her youthful rebellion against the gender customs of her Dominican culture.
A Thesis Statement • Takes a stance rather than announces subject. Julia Alvarez’s “Family Matters” portrays the conflicted consciousness of Alvarez as she is caught between her sense of public duty and private desire. This conflict stems from Alvarez’s inability to reconcile her own personal identity as an autonomous woman with her Dominican culture. In “El Doctor,” Julia Alvarez explores her father’s own inability to step outside rigid cultural norms for men. Her and her father’s contesting ideas about what it means to be “a man” reflect the clash of value systems and gender norms in the American and Dominican cultures.
A Thesis Statement • Must be narrow, rather than broad, in order to sufficiently argue your thesis. • Must be specific rather than vague or general x Julia Alvarez’s “First Muse” is very confusing. In Julia Alvarez’s “Family Matters,” Julia’s outlook toward herself as a writer is mired in symbols of nature (trees and their “branches,” droplets flowing into the “sea”) that reflect a harmonization of family, culture, and self.
Consists of two parts • Your topic (the ‘What’) • The analysis, explanation, or assertions you are making about the topic. (The ‘So What’ of your argument) 1 In “Family Matters,” Alvarez’s outlook toward herself as a writer is mired in symbols from nature that reflect a more organic, harmonized view of the relationship between culture and selfhood. 2
Levels of Complexity & Specificity • As shown in “My English,” “I Want to be Miss América,” and “So Much Depends,” cultural stereotypes have a negative impact on the minority person. → An argument, yes, but not the most complex (it’s somewhat obvious) or specific (“negative impact” is general)… Revision: • As shown in “My English,” “I Want to be Miss América,” and “So Much Depends,” Alvarez reveals that the most insidious aspect of negative cultural labels (i.e., “spic,” “wetback,” “Chiquita Banana”) is the internalized psychological effects: they force the minority to see herself through the eyes of the dominant cultural group, resulting in self-loathing and a desire to efface one’s cultural uniqueness.
A Thesis Statement • Is a map or guide both for yourself and your audience.
A Thesis Statement • Has one main point rather than several main points.
The Main Point • Is supported by reasoning or evidence from the text
The Evidence • Is organized into paragraphs with one topic per paragraph
Remember • Your thesis is a working thesis. If you find yourself straying from your original argument, one alternative is to rewrite your thesis statement.
Remember • Your thesis is making a claim • That you must sufficiently prove with reasons and evidence. • That could be an opinion, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. • With which people could possibly disagree.
Remember • Your thesis is not an expression of what you think or feel. • Do not summarize the plot. Analyze the plot. • Focus on how your argument develops or changes in the story.
Checklist • Must be in introduction • Must be specific and narrow • Must be arguable • Must be compelling • Must answer “So what?”