Call it the elevator speech of autobiographical essays -- your chance to quickly encapsulate the main point of your essay in one sentence. It’s your thesis statement, and don’t be surprised if it takes several revisions until you are satisfied with it. All essays are prone to taking twists and turns, and even though you know how your essay will end, you want to make sure that there is symmetry between your thesis and the body of your essay.
Focus on Your Mantra
Your thesis may focus on one guiding principle, belief or mantra that has served you well throughout your life experiences. Such a statement may have the underpinnings of a cliché, but you can make it work with some finesse. For example: “I’ve always lived my life by the mantra that honesty is the best policy, but this statement took on new meaning for me after I entered law school.”
Focus on a Pattern of Behavior
Your autobiographical thesis statement may refer to a pattern of behavior that you have repeated in your life. For example, “My urge to rebel against peer pressure is a mixed blessing that has fortified my individualism while also showing me that too much non-conformity can lead to a lonely existence.”
Match the Tone to the Essay
The body of your essay should amplify, explain and illustrate your thesis statement and the tone should be symmetrical. For example, a serious-minded, reflective thesis statement should be followed by an equally serious, reflective autobiographical essay.
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- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Tips and Examples for Writing Thesis Statements
- The New St. Martin’s Handbook; Andrea Lunsford and Robert Connors; 1999.
- The Scott, Foresman Handbook for Writers; Maxine Hairston and John Ruszkiewicz; 1991.
- Step by Step Writing; Randy Devillez; 1992.
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