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What Should a Thesis Statement on an Essay About a Short Story Look Like?

by Kristie Sweet, Demand Media

    Papers about short stories, also called literary analysis essays, allow writers to explain the basic elements of the story and make a deeper statement about the plot, characters, symbolism or theme. Writing such an analysis lets you learn more about the story and gain an appreciation of literature in general. One of the most significant portions of the literary analysis is the thesis statement.

    Definition

    In any essay, the thesis statement establishes the purpose of the paper for the reader. A good thesis fits the assignment length, makes a statement about your overall point and includes the specific concepts you will give to support that idea about the story. The thesis must relate to the specific assignment about the short story such as the argumentative point you want to make or the element you want to explain. Place the thesis at the end of the introductory paragraph of the analysis.

    Focus

    State your point in specific terms in your thesis statement. Narrow your focus to a subject that is easy to write in the allotted word count. For instance, saying a character is "interesting" or that many symbols appear in the story does not give your reader a clear idea of what you will discuss. Instead, choose a words that emphasize your point, such as how a character's flaw causes his downfall or how a particular set of symbols illustrate the theme of the story.

    Purpose

    The thesis for a literary analysis should set up the organization you will use in the body of the paper. Think about if you want to compare or contrast characters or situations, explain a causal relationship between events in the plot, relate how a character fulfills a certain role or discuss how elements such as the setting illustrate the theme. Write your thesis with language like "differences," "similar," "cause," "effects" and the element or elements you will cover such as "theme," "character" and "setting."

    Subpoints

    Add subpoints to your thesis to set up the ideas you will explain in support of your thesis. For a typical essay of 500 to 750 words, you probably want to add three subpoints. These may list the characters, symbols, plot elements, similarities, differences, causes or effects you will discuss. Write these subpoints in the same order in your thesis that you will present them in the body of the paper. List these points after your main idea in your thesis. For example, a good thesis might be, "The man in Jack London's 'To Build a Fire' fails in his mission due to his overconfidence in himself, his disdain toward nature’s power and his inability to retain his composure."

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    About the Author

    Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

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