Why is this thesis weak? Think about what the reader would expect from the essay that follows: most likely a general, appreciative summary of Twain´s novel. But the question did not ask you to summarize; it asked you to analyze. Your professor is probably not interested in your opinion of the novel; instead, she wants you to think about why it´s such a great novel_what do Huck´s adventures tell us about life, about America, about coming of age, about race, etc.? First, the question asks you to pick an aspect of the novel that you think is important to its structure or meaning_for example, the role of storytelling, the contrasting scenes between the shore and the river, or the relationships between adults and children. Now you write: In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain develops a contrast between life on the river and life on the shore.
The thesis statement usually appears near the beginning of a paper. It can be the first sentence of an essay, but that often feels like a simplistic, unexciting beginning. It more frequently appears at or near the end of the first paragraph or two. Here is the first paragraph of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s essay The Crisis of American Masculinity. Notice how everything drives the reader toward the last sentence and how that last sentence clearly signals what the rest of this essay is going to do.
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