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Thread: Literary comparison (and thesis in general) question

  1. #1
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    I have a question that has come up specifically in my son's literary comparison paper, but is in general an area of difficulty for me. How specific should a thesis be in the introduction? I tend to look for themes very overtly stated in the intro, and then repeated and reflected in the body of an essay. One son tends to prefer to "hint" (if that's the right word) at the themes in the intro, and then develop the idea in the body. For ex., in this lit. comp. paper, he says the two authors use the devices of x, y, and z "to show two different--but complementary--sides of reality." Then within the body paragraphs (six: one for each author for each of the three devices x, y, and z) he shows that those two "sides of reality" are the total depravity of man/victory of sin, and the ability to be saved from sin by an external source. So he doesn't state either of these overtly in his intro, but he "hints" that there will be two sides of reality compared, and he consistently points to them in the body paragraphs, stating them clearly in the conclusion (well, not as clearly as I'd like, but that's another point ).

    If I can get this straight in my mind I think it would really help me evaluate my students' work more effectively. I don't want to hinder good writing by insisting on conformity to a pattern that's not necessary, but if being more clear about the content in the thesis IS necessary, I want to teach that.
    Thanks in advance for any help!
    In His Grace,
    Bonnie

  2. #2
    Hmmm... what are the two sides of reality? Can they be stated succinctly?

    Christy Somerville

  3. #3
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    The "two sides of reality" he develops are basically the total depravity of man (sin overcoming a person), and the ability to be saved from sin by an external source (Christ). He says he feels like he's being repetitive in a fairly short essay if he states it like that in the intro.

  4. #4
    Without seeing the paper, I think I could go either way on that one as a teacher. If he explains those two sides of reality clearly in the body of his essay, and he states in the thesis that he will focus on them, then it seems like he adequately introduces and clearly communicates his main argument/thesis/insight (which is, after all, the goal of the exercise!). On the other hand, I think it almost never hurts at this stage of a student's education (high school as opposed to college) to go overboard with clarity (i.e. have him state what the two sides of reality are in his introductory paragraph). So... I think you could safely come down on either side of that one, for what it's worth. :-)

    Christy Somerville

  5. #5
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    Thanks, Christy, that's helpful.
    This was his last paper as a high school senior before heading off to Hillsdale College in the fall. I'll probably just go over the need to be absolutely clear in the body paragraphs that he's developing these >>two sides of reality<< and to make sure to sum them up clearly in his conclusion. But it sounds like you see clarity as very, very important, so that gives me good reason to make sure to teach it well with my other three kids, too (two in high school this year, one in 7th. )
    In His Grace,
    Bonnie

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