One of the most important functions of the conclusion is to provide context for your argument. Your reader may finish your essay without a problem and understand your argument without understanding why that argument is important. Your introduction might point out the reason your topic matters, but your conclusion should also tackle this questions. Here are some strategies for making your reader see why the topic is important:
IMPORTANT NOTE: One of the main reasons that the normof the Introduction developed this way is because of an importantrule of the Academic Essay: Avoid making statements thatyou cannot prove. The problem with thegeneralizing/philosophical/BS'ing statements like "Hemingway..."and "The Western..." is that they cannot be proventhrough reasoned discourse. Moreover, to even try and do sowould require voluminous amounts of discourse for something thatis not even your thesis: what you actually ARE setting out toprove. As a result, the genre of the Academic Essay hasevolved into the above norm. It still meets anintroduction's purpose of orienting the reader, it just does soin a very specific manner.
These are not arbitrary requirements. Introductions and conclusions are crucial in persuasive writing. They put the facts to be cited into a coherent structure and give them meaning. Even more important, they make the argument readily accessible to readers and remind them of that purpose from start to end.
The following sections outline the generally accepted structure for an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that these are guidelines and that your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your purpose and audience.
Think of it this way. As the writer of an essay, you're essentially a lawyer arguing in behalf of a client (your thesis) before a judge (the reader) who will decide the case (agree or disagree with you). So, begin as a lawyer would, by laying out the facts to the judge in the way you think it will help your client best. Like lawyers in court, you should make an "opening statement," in this case, an introduction. Then review the facts of the case in detail just as lawyers question witnesses and submit evidence during a trial. This process of presentation and cross-examination is equivalent to the "body" of your essay. Finally, end with a "closing statement"—that is, the conclusion of your essay—arguing as strongly as possible in favor of your client's case, namely, your theme.
Making an Argument
As stated earlier, the academic essay is an exercise in reasonedpersuasion. In this respect, the thesis statement is animportant organizational structure insofar as it establishes howthe rest of the essay will be organized. Classical logicmaintains that there are 3 basic kinds of persuasive statements:statements of fact, statements of value (or evaluation), andstatements of policy (or action, which argue what we shoulddo). Unless otherwise specified, the first of these, thestatement of fact, is the form that the thesis statement for anacademic essay should takethe obvious exception being whenyou write evaluative criticism (which you will NEVER do in mycourse).
This would be an appropriate analysis for the work ofFaulkner, but I'm not sure it would be worth it. To beginwith, it is not clear what the writer has to gain in terms ofproving BOTH of these aspects of the work rather than just theone. Instead, with this complex thesis, there are going to belong sections of the essay where half of what needs to be provedwill be left suspended while the other half getsdiscussed. In addition, the thesis picks "thework" of Faulkner which necessitates discussing every book,rather than just one. Thus it is that an importantconvention of the academic essay is that:
The impossible thesis statement is a kind of corollary ofthe banal thesis statement insofar as you want to stay away fromit. Rather than saying something which is evident ormeaningless, however, the impossible thesis statement putsforward something which cannot reasonably be proved, as a resultof there being no agreed upon or stable criteria from which torender conclusions. Examples of impossible statementsabound, but the one most related to this course would be "ThePlague is great art," or "The Plague isthe most realistic of all Camus' novels." In eachcase, there is no stable criteria. Take the firstone. What distinguishes between "good" art and"great" art? Furthermore, the essay would not beable to point to a stable definition of "art", aconcept that art historians, artists, and cultural critics havebeen arguing over for centuries. The latter thesis has asimilar problem since "realistic" is not a stableconcept with firm criteria.
How do I generate a good thesis statement?
After you have completed your research for evidence, you will need to analyze the material to find the possible connections— both similarities and contrasts. Once you have analyzed your evidence, you will have a main idea or a working thesis. Think of the process of creating a thesis like a funnel, beginning with a general subject, narrowed by the purpose, and ending with a specific assertion, claim, or thesis.
The scientific purpose of this experiment is to determine whether or not Pointe shoes affect the sensitivity of your feet and make it so that people can not feel pressure as much as people who do not go on Pointe.
Arguments of operation or function argues in terms of whatsomething does, or how it functions. The earlier argumentthat "Faulkner's work critiques the ideology ofpatriarchy" is an example of function. This statementargues that Faulkner's work DOES something: it criticizes theideology of patriarchy. Note that unlike the argument ofclassification, the writer of this essay SEEMS to have to do moreto prove their thesis. They will not only have to definewhat the ideology of patriarchy isand thus establishcriteriathey will also have to demonstrate that Faulkner'swork DOES something with that criteria. The question of HOWleads to a discussion of the body of the essay.
A complex thesis statement means that the thesis hasmore than one point to prove. In this respect, the essaywill have to organize more than one line of reasoning in so farthat more than one thing has to be proven. Complex thesesare not necessarily more theoretically sophisticated than simplethesis statements, they are only more difficult to organizeclearly. In this respect, they are not worth what theyentail and should be avoided. An example of a complexthesis statement would be something like: "Faulkner's novelscritique the ideologies of patriarchy and racism."