Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thesis Statement and Topic Sentence Points

Please put a lot of thought into these before posting!

Remember: The thesis needs to build, not simply list. It also needs to have a "so what point" that it builds up to.

It's up to you how many topic sentence points you have, but for a 6-8 page paper, I suggest at least 4. They should be listed in the order you plan on including them in the paper, they must cover the entire thesis, and they must not diverge from (but instead develop) your central argument.

Remember: Topic sentences need to be argumentative points, not facts.

Sign your name! I'll be giving your feedback.

Post by Midnight, Wed. 5/13.


  1. Thesis:

    Through the course of his first novel Fight Club and the more recent novel Choke Chuck Palahniuk identifies and differentiates the role of men and women, through personal hardships in his life, relating to the main characters in his novels personal struggles, along with demasculinization and the rising power of women.

    Topic Sentence 1:

    Growing up Chuck Palahniuk developed in a less than perfect environment dealing with hardships at home such as; growing up in a mobile home, loosing his father, and opening up about his sexuality, which can all be found in numerous parts of his two novels Fight Club and Choke as each narrator faces very similar ordeals in their lives.

    Topic Sentence 2:

    Palahniuk develops his main characters which are both male in each novel where they go through difficult times in their life finding out who they really are while being forced into a mold by a female figure.

    Topic Sentence 3:

    By the loss of male identity for the narrator and main character Palahniuk uses the idea of demasculinization to create new struggles and obstacles to face in each novel.

    Topic Sentence 4:

    Chuck Palahniuk also uses women not only as an obstacle for his main characters but as a figure showing the ultimate power women truly have, which ties back to the point of Palahniuk’s actual view of women.


  2. In the novels Black Water and Black Girl White Girl, Joyce Carol Oates utilizes the concept of naming in order to emphasize identity as well as the power of relationships, ultimately revealing various traits of each character.

    1.The names which Oate’s gives the character’s in her novels represent thier backgrounds, therefore emphasizing their identities.

    2.Throughout Oate’s novels, the overuse of names as well as the rare use of others detracts from the identity of the characters.

    3.Also, the names which women refer to men in both novels signify the power of relationships and the role women play.

    4.Oates reveals character traits by various characters’ inability to refer to others by their proper name.


  3. ** I added some comments on things that I would particularly appreciate help on!

    Thesis: (Help?) Through out the novels of The Bluest Eye and Sula, Toni Morrison exhibits how important the role of society can be racially, economically, and through repuation. The social norms of beauty, domestic roles,and financial status, act as oppressors that increase the characters' stuggles in life. Characters in both of these books feel the pressure of the perceptions of others seep into their own perceptions of not only those around them, but also themselves. Morrison demonstrates in both of these novels the dangers that the expectations of society are malicious for those who try hopelessly to meet them.

    Topic Sentence 1 : In the settings of both The Bluest Eye and Sula, Toni Morrison emphasises the roll of the white people's dominance over the black people due to their race. [Awkward wording?] This racial dominance shapes the mold for the rest of society,as it serves as a major social handicap, limiting the ability for black people to gain respectable reputations and financial statuses. It is also an important factor that leads to poor self perception for many of the characters.
    ( I would use a lot of examples from The Bluest eye to support this. Sula also, but more The Bluest eye).

    Topic sentence 2: The characters in both of Morrison's novels are stuck in a never-ending cycle of what roles are socially acceptable. Morrison says a lot about society, as the reader sees character after character fall into the same social traps and roles. In Sula especially, the accepted roles of black men and black women prevent characters from reaching their full potential as people. The over powerment of society prevails in both novels, as characters in them who at first seem to "go against the grain", end up succumbing to what is socially accepted.
    (I feel like this is kind of all over the place, I'm trying to work in two approaches to the same idea, but I'm not sure it's coming off appropriately)

    Topic sentence 3: As the plots in The Bluest Eye and Sula unwind, the reader can see the diminishment of self esteem in many of the characters. As characters let themselves be consumed deeper into the values of society, and not their own, their reflections of themself gradually grow uglier, physically and mentally. The outside pressures and struggles seep into the surfaces of the characters, and eventaully, many of them become entirely defined by their specific role on the social latter.

    I need help to think of another topic sentence. I have a lot of ideas in my thesis, but its hard to work them into specific topics, because a lot match up well together.


  4. Thesis: Although the backgrounds of the two adolescent males in The Road and All the Pretty Horses differ they both develop into ethical human beings through their own rite of passage exemplifying that relationships can aid in survival.

    Topic #1:
    John Grady Cole, being a young cowboy deep in the heart of Texas, is susceptible to innumerable brutal sights transforming him into a rigid character of conscience.

    Topic #2:
    In a world of unreserved catastrophe, the boy in The Road is forced to mature at an early age with rapid pace to ensure his survival.

    Topic #3:
    On his quest to find a true home John Grady finds comfort in horses and his love interest Alejandra helping him survive the solitude of a cowboy lifestyle.

    Topic #4:
    Survival in the barren world of The Road would have proved impossible for the boy without the love and protection given to him by his father.

    -Aidan C.

  5. Thesis: In the two novels, In the Lake of the Woods and Going After Cacciato, O'Brien uses vivid imagery and unreliable narration to depict the horrors of war and the lasting effects of posttraumatic stress disorder.

    Topic 1: The use of vivid imagery in both novels creates a realistic picture of the Vietnam War in the readers mind, allowing for an understanding of the war and the soldiers that fought in it.

    Topic 2: O'Brien's use of unreliable narration, the mix of fantasy and reality, shows the deleterious effects of the war on both narrators.

    Topic 3: The images created by O'Brien's writing show the true nature of war and the horrors that are present in it.

    Topic 4: O'Brien's writing highlights the effects of the war on the narrators, showing how their posttraumatic stress weights on each of them.

    Jon Durgin

  6. Thesis: In the novels Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut emphasizes the point that fate cannot be changed and humans have the inability to change their world by displaying ideas of determinism and the flaws with mankind and the world leading to the destruction of the environment.

    Topic Sentence 1
    Vonnegut uses both the Tralfamadorians in Slaughterhouse-Five and Kilgore Trout's views of the world shows fate cannot be changed and mankinds inability to change the world

    Topic Sentence 2
    Throughout both novels, Vonnegut plays with the notion that people should accept deterministic views rather than trying to change the future for the better

    Topic Sentence 3
    Vonnegut relats humans to robots, programmed to act in irresponsible ways, lacking free will and uses war to display problems with the world and the destruction that has taken place by showing flaws in mankind and the world.
    (I feel like this can be broken up into two but im not sure how)


  7. Thesis: In both Julia Alvarez's novels, "In the Time of Butterflies" and "Before we were", The secrecy of dominican politics aid in the development of central characters, allowing them to realize that freedom comes at a cost. This motivates these central women to fight for not only thier lives but against political opression.

    Topic 1: In both novels, Alvarez creates a realistic world in which men are trusted with the political standings which leads women to be kept in the dark as far as the dictator and the countries corruption.

    Topic 2: The central women in either novel must fend for themselves as far as secrecy in the government, which leads them to gain independence, and mature as significant individuals.

    Topic 3: The level of maturity reached develops the knowlegde and expreience of loss for the main characters, as well as the comprehension that freedom comes at a high price.

    Topic 4: The women mayrts in "In the Time of Butterflies" as well as the struggling sisters in "Before we Were Free" both use their individuality and courage to defy the Dictator Trujillo unltimately fighting for their country.


  8. Thesis:
    In John Updike’s The Centaur and Rabbit Run, the protagonists’ constant examinations of the mysterious aspects of their lives, such as the role of death as a counterpart of life, the contrast between social standards and nature’s lack of restrictions, and the past’s powerful influence on the future, result in continued uncertainty instead of definite answers. This uncertainty shows that human life is made up of the unknown and that a uniquely human life comes from questioning rather than complacency.

    1. By questioning and confronting death, both Peter Caldwell and Rabbit Angstrom use the connection between life and death to examine their own mortality and continue their lives.

    2. The trend of self-scrutiny continues when the protagonists see the arbitrary restrictions of social institutions and wish to emulate the liberating mystery of nature.

    3. Though the characters begin by reminiscing and wanting to relive the past, the questioning of their lives transforms this nostalgic desire into a platform of the past from which they can learn and develop.

    4. Through Peter’s view of death, and invariably life, as a continuous journey and Rabbit’s melancholic flight from his current life, Updike shows that humanity is a constant struggle of uncertainty and mystery and that true human life is not about finding answers.

    - Chris

  9. Thesis Statement:
    In both of the novels by Ken Kesey, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion, the protagonists illustrate strong individuality from others by straying from the majority; this is greatly emphasized through the diverse types of music that the characters prefer and the use of first person narrators that are able to show their perspective on different ideas and events. Kesey’s use of individualism in these works directly relates to the radical, beat nik life of Ken Kesey himself.

    Topic sentence #1
    In One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion the characters of Hank, from Sometimes a Great Notion, and R. P. McMurphy, from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, both demonstrate individualistic ideas by parting from a bigger group or an authority.

    Topic sentence #2
    Kesey’s use of individualism in both novels is emphasized through the different musical examples hummed and preferred by the protagonists.

    Topic Sentence #3
    The use of the individual created in both of Kesey’s novels is accented by different first person narrators that are able to share their opinions on different ideas and events.

    Topic Sentence #4
    The theme of individuality shown in both of Ken Kesey’s works creates parallels to Kesey’s life in the beat nik generation.

    -Andrew Licht-

  10. In his novels The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner develops several male characters whose self-created worlds and sense of identity center around a rebellious, unstable, and elusive female character. Consumed by his own self-doubt, each male fails or has failed to acknowledge the fallibility and frailty of the female, and it is this eventaul realization that causes them great suffering.

    t.s. #1:

    In The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner develops the viewpoints of Benjy, Quentin, and Jason, three brothers whose fixation on their sister Caddy and her promiscuity ultimately leads to their individaul destructions.

    t.s. #2:

    In As I Lay Dying, Faulkner explores Darl's, Cash's, Jewel's, and Vardaman's reaction to their mother's death and the journey to bury her and in doing so, reveals the extent to which each was dependent on her psychologically.

    t.s. #3:

    In each their respective novels, Addie and Caddy must deal with the great extent to which they are depended on, as well as the unobtainable standards to which they are held, and it is this pressure that leads to their ulimate downfall.

    Possible/ probable areas of expansion

    - including seperate paragraohs to develop characters of Compson and Bundren families
    - descussing how this realiance on the female for self-identity, when the female herself is lacking the same, develops Faulkner's theme of "the effort to find a way of living in a universe which does not provide meaning" --- possibly a response to modernization? the decrease in the importance of family?


  11. Thesis:
    Both Keith from Falling Man and David from Americana represent what Don DeLillo believes to be wrong with America and represents with children what he believes to be right in that both men try to live up to what the American culture expects of them in a world of new technology that leads to dehumanizing and detrimental outcomes for them both unless they were to return to the child-like ignorance of expectation and reputation.
    Topic Sentence 1:
    Keith and David both tried and failed in their attempts at creating the traditional family that the American culture emphasizes due to their trying too hard to live up to the expectations that only led them to disappointment and separation.
    Topic Sentence 2:
    DeLillo’s on going theme of technology’s dehumanizing quality carries through in these novels showing that the further away we move from the basics the more we loose all that defines our identities.
    Topic Sentence 3:
    DeLillo conveys his belief that in order to recover what we have lost through society’s expectation and technology we must return to our natural, though sometimes disapproved of, instincts.
    Topic Sentence 4:
    It is the younger characters in these novels that carry the insight and human defining qualities because they have not been fully polluted by society and its rules.


  12. Thesis:Jonathan Safran Foer’s two novels, Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, utilize a frame-story to help connect the past with the present and show the constant struggle and state of loss man will be at, and the deliberation and self-reflection that one requires to continue on with life. Although these pieces of literature both occur in different time periods, they both take place in cruel times of war and calamity to contribute to the author’s focal message that death, disaster, and destruction will always be an inevitable part of life, but it is mankind’s duty to rejoice and understand that after every dark moment there will emerge a time of light.

    Topic Sentence Points:1. The use of a frame-story is highly prevalent and vital in both Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, for it helps relate the characters’ lives back to those of their ancestors, and this reflection helps them come to terms with the cyclical and inevitable nature of life and the losses that will follow it.

    2. War, a highly hackneyed archetype of death and destruction, is nonetheless used in both of Foer’s works numerously, in a sense portraying that moments of loss and defeat are a natural component of life.

    3. Overall, despite all of these two novels' differences, the main message that Jonathan Safran Foer was attempting to portray was that it is man’s obligation to not get caught up in prior events and apprehend that after every dark moment there will emerge a time of light.

    (sorry, I only have 3 topic sentence points...)

    -Ehsan Dadgar

  13. Thesis:
    In Alice Walker's The Color Purple and Meridian, while being guided by their religious beliefs, the main characters struggle against their past conscious and develop growing connections with other women in which empower them to find self worth.

    Throughout Meridian and The Color Purple, Meridian and Celie make references to God in belief that he will guide them through their hardships of gender, race, and social status.

    Meridian repeatedly refers back to events from the past which guilt her during her self reflection time throughout the book.

    In the Color Purple, Celie has a constant inner battle of accepting traumatizing events from her past which is a huge obstacle in her efforts of trying to find her place in a world full of power hungry men.

    Meridian's connection with the "Wild Child" helps her better understand herself through feeling included and obligated to fight for her own civil rights.

    Celie's relationship with Shug helps Celie gain self respect and ultimately find a purpose in life through their connection.

    #6 or Conclusion
    Celie and Meridian both find their sense of self worth through the females around them and their past experiences by relying on God to get them past their hard times.
    (Could this be the conclusion or should I make it a 6th paragraph?)

    -Sam Friday

  14. In both Farewell summer and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbuty, the main character challenges conformity and has a mixed conscience over the majority of the desicion they make.

    1. Guy Montag was a fireman who changed his opinion on his career and its ethics. this change caused a huge amount of inner tourmoil in Montag.

    2. Doug, the main character in Farewell Summer does not want to conforn and become an old person. he would be much happier as a child forever. This is a huge stepping stone in his development.

    3. Although Doug wants to stay the same and Guy wants to change, both of these characters are torn over their decisions in life.

    Greg F

  15. Thesis- In the two novels Drop City and The Tortilla Curtain, TC Boyle shows how the two main communities put up boundaries that detach them from reality and mirror their own feelings of fear and prejudice. These boundaries eventually lead to the destruction of their morals and sense of community.

    The community in The Tortilla Curtain put up a gate in their community because of their racist feelings towards immigrants and fear of them infiltrating their lives.

    The high-class community eventually put up a wall that totally surrounds their community because of their fear and opposition with nature.

    The inhabitants of Drop City live in the commune in order to escape from their own personal struggles living in society.

    The commune of Drop City migrates to Alaska in order to escape the trouble they are in in California with the law.

    Throughout the Tortilla Curtain, protagonist Delany gets more and more isolated from nature and racist as he starts to support the boundaries established by the communities. This eventually leads to his fear of nature and his strong racist feelings.

    The commune of Drop City eventually disintegrates as the inhabitants realize they cannot hide from the outside world, and the morals they have started with disintegrate into madness.


  16. Thesis: In Nabokov's novels Lolita and Ada or Ardor Lolita and Van, the major characters in each novel, grow up while missing the parent of the opposite sex, which greatly impacts their relationships as they grow older and how they cope with emotions. Nabokov explores the idea of children growing up without an adequate or conventional family structure, while making use of doubles and illustrating the key role families have in the future relationships of their children.

    1: Lolita, although she has a strong influence from her mother, grows up without a father and when Humbert Humbert enters her life as a father figure she is unsure about how to interact with him leading to a dangerous relationship with a man much older than her.

    2: Ivan Veen, Van, grows up without a stable mother and without that source of passion and warmth that every growing child needs. As a result, he grows up almost backward in some senses and he yearns for some sort of female presence in his life, which he finds in Ada, his sister.

    3: Lolita and Van manage their emotion in completely contrasting ways; Lolita keeps her emotions insides her, a result of growing up without a father, and Van's emotions are at times so passionate that they almost overflow out of him making him somewhat impulsive, a result of growing up without the calming effects of a mother.

    4: Nabokov uses doubling in creating two versions of the missing father/mother figure for Lolita and Van, both of whom react differently upon encountering these characters which is a direct result of not having the parent they are missing. ----> (I know I need to reword this, but that is kind of the main idea I'm going for. Maybe I should add a bit about how they reacted to the mother/father figures and make this topic sentence actually two sentences???)

    Ginny Cousens

  17. Thesis- In both For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway uses vivid description and nature to provide an idea of the brave and loving man and the influences of women during the Wars of the early 1900's.

    Topic 1:
    In both For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms, the male character becomes reliant on alcohol, women, and war to survive during this day and age.

    Topic 2:
    The treatment of women and the female characters Hemingway creates are displayed powerless compared to the stature of a man like Hemingway.

    Topic 3:
    Hemingway uses several assets of nature to set scenes and also describe moods of individual characters.

    Topic 4:
    The actual fighting of the war exemplifies the true heart and shaping of an American man throughout the early 1900's.


  18. Thesis:
    In Herzog and Humboldt's gift, Saul Bellow uses different narrative styles to characterize Moses Herzog and Von Humboldt as people who are trying to find fullfillment in their own lives, and need others help to get there, and to show that when they find this fullfillment, they will have found themselves.

    In Herzog, Bellow uses the narrative device of flashbacks to show the tragedy in Moses's life that has led him to where he is, and how he must work through them to find happiness in his life.

    In Humboldt's gift, Bellow Uses a split protagonist narrative to characterize both Von and his best friend Citrine as writers who are struggling to have success, and how Von must work through his own pride to find success.
    (I need help revising this one)

    In both novels, the characters Von and Herzog both have a major flaw that keeps them from achieving the fullfillment they desire.
    (I want to include Herzog's depression, and Von's pride in this statement, but I'm not sure how to word it.)

    Despite using different narrative styles in both novels, Bellow effectively portrays the characters struggles by having support characters to help them work through their problems.


  19. In Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth the protagonists’ respective reactions to the standards of society, such as views on money, social etiquette, and the value of love versus security, show an interesting contrast in the effect that society has on the thinking and behavior of its members. This difference of thinking and behavior shows that character strength and happiness result from bold decisions rather than contentment.

    1)Both Newland Archer and Lily Bart are essentially controlled by money, both in the manners they act and the ways they judge their peers.

    2)The standard for social etiquette set by New York society requires a certain level of manners, which must be upheld, and these standards and the extent of effect they have on the respective characters are the drive behind each characters actions and desires.

    3)Character strength and morality is revealed when Newland and Lily make the decision to pursue love or security. This decision inherently decides their capability to achieve happiness.

    4)Audacious decisions, like Newland’s forbidden love for Ellen, are the only way a character can find resolution and happiness, and passivity, like Lily letting Lawrence slip away, essentially accepts eternal unhappiness.


  20. Thesis:
    In Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees and The Poisonwood Bible, the main female characters must adapt to a new environment by overcoming social obstacles of being the minority and by overcoming their isolated feelings of themselves, emphasizing the natural changes that occur through life whether expected or not.

    Topic Sentences:
    1. Taylor's feelings of isolation at home impact the way she interacts with the people she meets in her new environment by maintaining a distant relationship with these new people.

    2. The Price family go on a journey to Congo hoping to change the people there, but instead, by being the minority in their new community, they are the ones being influenced.

    3. The changes in government and values affect the way the female members of the Price family lead the rest of their lives by realizing they are not as superior as they thought and that they need to embrace the culture of the native people.

    4. Eventually, a family is created where Taylor finally feels like she belongs, and doesn't feel isolated or part of the minority group.

    --Marissa S.

  21. Thesis:

    Russell Bank’s novels The Sweet Hereafter and Rule of the Bone exhibit the significance of the developing years of childhood and how it conflicts with the importance of a community, which ultimately has the effect of the loss of innocence in children during these crucial years.

    Topic Sentences:

    1. Just as Nichole’s dream of becoming a singer served as a representation of hope for not only her but also for the entire town of San Dent, the lives of all the children represented the future generation of the town, and it was the need for a close-knit community after the accident that would make this possible.

    2. Nichole was robbed of her childhood dreams not only from the physical damage of the accident, but also from the pressure of the community for her to testify her alibi under a lawyer, which, as a result, led to her false claims and the loss of her innocence.

    3. Bone’s corrupted, drug-filled childhood served as significant years which shaped the direction he took his life, which was all caused by the negative influences in his community in which he was guided under.

    4. Unlike Nichole, Bone was raised with almost no innocence at all due to the influences from his community, which later caused him to feel a need to protect and preserve Rose’s innocence.

    -I'm thinking about possibly talking about the idea of the broken family instead of the community
    -might break these down into 6 topic sentences rather than 4 to make it more organized, or combining the same ideas into paragraphs organized differently than how I have them now
    -I feel shaky about these...Ms. Coppens are you staying after Thursday?


  22. Thesis:

    In his novel "The Fourth Hand" as well as "The World According to Garp," John Irving illustrates an undying love between a parent and their child through an obscure and untraditional relationship that in the end, redefines the characters' moral being.

    Topic Sentences:

    1) Both Jenny and Patrick Wallingford display characteriscs and traits that are often odd, and defiant to normal behavior.
    2) Through these strange behaviors, Jenny and Wallingford are able to express a love for their children that no other person could surpass, therefore proving their undying compassion.
    3) It is the perpetual and unbreakable love for their children that changes who Jenny and Wallingford are, as well as who their children are, ultimately making each character more perfect in themself.


  23. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and The Dharma Bums epitomize a breakthrough in the American culture and protest conformity and the bland middle class life during the 1950’s, including an alternative approach to discovering one’s quest for enlightenment. Through a spontaneous lifestyle and rejection of middle class values, these characters were labeled as pioneers of a counterculture, which ultimately reflects the life of Kerouac himself.


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