Suppose you are taking a course on 19th_century America, and the instructor hands out the following essay assignment: Compare and contrast the reasons why the North and South fought the Civil War. You turn on the computer and type out the following: The North and South fought the Civil War for many reasons, some of which were the same and some different.
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.
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