Squaring Your Introduction and Conclusion

The third and last part of The FAVORS Step-by-Step Squaring Process” is “Squaring Your Introduction and Conclusion.”

Within both “Squaring the Author’s Text Within Your Analysis” and “Squaring Your Analysis,” we have given much attention to developing the body paragraphs, but little focus to the introduction and conclusion paragraphs of an essay. These, too, are very important sections, so let’s focus more on their significance to an essay.

In the essay on “Chrysanthemums,” the student develops two different types of theses: one for the introduction and one for the conclusion. The student did not do this on purpose; but because of a lack of preparation and careful planning, the student ends up with this type of problem.

Let’s bring forward the introduction and conclusion paragraphs of the student essay on “Chrysanthemums.”

Table 21: Paragraph Comparisons, “Chrysanthemums” (Squaring Your Introduction and Conclusion Paragraphs Exercise)

Introduction Paragraph Conclusion Paragraph 
In “Chrysanthemums” John Steinbeck, the author, focuses on Elisa Allen, one of the main characters.  She is presented as weak in that her daily activity consisted of tending her garden of chrysanthemums; Steinbeck focuses on how they provide insight into Elisa and how she relates to them, religiously.  He implies that even though she fits a weak character, there are places in the narrative at the beginning that suggest some strong points and her longing towards the end.  There are a number of inferences that Steinbeck clearly illustrates how she is presented as weak and should therefore be discussed. Elisa is clearly painted as a weak character.  She is a lonely and detached woman.  The chrysanthemums created a distraction from her loneliness, her isolation because of the fence around her, and the feelings of inadequacy.  Towards the end she questions whether or not she is strong.  Steinbeck provides a clear insight into Elisa and her garden of chrysanthemums.  Henry places a protective hold on Elisa, just as she is possessive over her chrysanthemums. Elisa started out as strong, but ended up as weak and somewhat resentful to the fact.  

Here are some steps to consider as you revise the introduction and conclusion paragraphs of your essays.

Step #1: Highlight the thesis or theses of each paragraph. If you are working from a hard copy, use a highlighter. If you are working from a Word document, either apply shading or cut and paste both paragraphs into a different Word document.

  • Highlight those parts that appear to represent a thesis.

Step #2: Compare and contrast the introduction thesis with the conclusion thesis.  Determine if each thesis has parts.

  • Question #1: How many parts are in each thesis?
  • Question #2: Does each part of the introduction thesis correspond to each part of the conclusion thesis?

Step #3: Number the parts. If you are working from a hardcopy, use a different color ink. If you are working from Word, just apply underline to highlight the parts. Outline the different parts.

Introduction Thesis: These are the parts of the introduction thesis.

  • Thesis Part #1: She is presented as weak.
  • Thesis Part #2: He implies that even though she is weak, there are places in the narrative at the beginning that suggest some strong points and her longing towards the end.
  • Thesis Part #3: There are a number of inferences that Steinbeck clearly illustrates how she is presented as weak.

Conclusion Thesis: These are the parts of the conclusion thesis.

  • Thesis Part #1: Elisa is clearly painted as a weak character.
  • Thesis Part #2: Steinbeck provides a clear insight into Elisa and her garden of chrysanthemums.
  • Thesis Part #3: Elisa started out as strong, but ended up as weak and somewhat resentful to the fact.

Step #4: Outline the thesis rationalizations. Identify the reasonable explanations that support each thesis. Then outline them on a piece of paper or highlight them on the hard copy.

  • Rationalization for Introduction Thesis: her daily activity consisted of tending her garden of chrysanthemums;
  • Rationalization for Conclusion Thesis: She is a lonely and detached woman.  The chrysanthemums created a distraction from her loneliness, her isolation because of the fence around her, and the feelings of inadequacy.

Step #5: Conduct a Paragraph Assessment. Look for gaps. Table the parts. Develop two columns. Place the introduction thesis parts in one column and the conclusion thesis parts in the second column. Fill in the gaps. An example table is below.

Table 22: Theses Comparisons (Squaring Your Introduction and Conclusion Paragraphs Exercise)

Parts Introduction Thesis Conclusion Thesis 
 #1  Refers to title of the story No reference to title of the story
 #2 Refers to name of author Refers to name of author
 #3 She is presented as weak in that her daily activity consisted of tending her garden of chrysanthemums; Elisa is clearly painted as a weak character. She is a lonely and detached woman. The chrysanthemums created a distraction from her loneliness, her isolation because of the fence around her, and the feelings of inadequacy.
 #4 He implies that even though she fits a weak character, there are places in the narrative at the beginning that suggest some strong points and her longing towards the end. Towards the end she questions whether or not she is strong.  . . . Elisa started out as strong, but ended up as weak and somewhat resentful to the fact.
 #5 There are a number of inferences that Steinbeck clearly illustrates how she is presented as weak. No reference to the word “inferences”

Step #6: Parallel the sentence lines. For rows #1 and #2, you can easily and quickly rectify apparent gaps by developing sentences that are similar to each other. Add these types of references to paragraphs that lack them.

  • For where there is no reference to the title in either the introduction thesis or the conclusion thesis, add a reference.
  • For where there is no reference to the author in either the introduction thesis or the conclusion thesis, add a reference.

Step #7: Square the theses. Make sure that the conclusion thesis is congruent with the introduction thesis.

The conclusion thesis must have the following:

  • the same shape of ideas with no deviation
  • the same angle in reference to approach and method
  • the same parallel lines in terms of thesis sentence structure

Sub-steps

Choose a thesis. If your introduction paragraph has more than one thesis, then choose one thesis that will be the best guide for your paper. In the case of the student essay, row #3 introduction thesis appears to be the most suitable in contrast to row #4 introduction thesis. The row #4 thesis represents a contrast within its thesis; it doesn’t set boundaries. The following is the most appropriate thesis.

  • She is presented as weak.

Keep the thesis rationalization. Doing this is dependent upon the explanation. As long as the explanation is not ambiguous, then keep it and continue through the process. However, if the explanation is ambiguous, either change it or continue through the process and change it later.

  • Ambiguous? If the explanation is ambiguous, change the statement. Examine each word to make sure that a double meaning cannot be derived from the word. Be certain that the explanation is also suitable to the thesis.
  • Unambiguous? If the explanation is not ambiguous, then consider examining each word to make sure that a double meaning cannot be derived from the word. Be certain that the explanation is also suitable to the thesis.
  • The student essay explanation is not ambiguous. Therefore, we can keep it.
  • Explanation: her daily activity consisted of tending her garden of chrysanthemums;                      

Number. Number the parts of the thesis you have kept. Outline them on a separate sheet of paper. The thesis we are keeping is three-part.

  • Elisa is presented as weak.
  • Elisa is presented as weak by the author (implication).
  • Elisa is presented as weak because her daily activity consisted of tending her garden of chrysanthemums.

Define the word. Define how you will apply a particular word to a character. For example, if you write that the author’s thesis is strong, then define how you will use or apply “strong” in your paper. Consult a dictionary for each type of word or the word you use to classify a character, idea, statement, or opinion. Then develop an explanation that either confirms your perception of the character or an explanation that prompts a need to substitute a different word. A standard dictionary defines “weak” in the following ways:

  • not strong or fit
  • easily defeated
  • lacking strength of character
  • lacking skills or abilities
  • not working to full capacity
  • synonyms: feeble, frail, debilitated, decrepit
  • Question #1: How will you use the word throughout the body paragraphs? What will be your method?
  • Question #2: How will you use the word to characterize a character in the narrative, essay, or argument? What will be your method?
  • Question #3: Is this the most appropriate word to characterize Elisa, based upon how the author presents this character?
  • Explanation: Elisa is not the type of character who is not strong or fit, who is easily defeated, who lacks strength of character, who lacks skills or abilities, who doesn’t work to full capacity; who is feeble, frail, debilitated, or decrepit. Therefore, who is Elisa? It is not clear that you cannot use this thesis. You must reexamine the character or your focus.

Reassess the Character. Perform a character reassessment by reexamining sections of the narrative. Restudy your annotations. Search for deeper meanings that you didn’t see before. Here is a character assessment of Elisa, which will possibly lead to a revised thesis.

  • Elisa is an expert in the art of gardening.
  • Elisa is a diligent gardener.
  • Elisa is a teacher. She can teach gardening.
  • Elisa’s relationship with the other characters in the narrative is centered on her relationship with the chrysanthemums.

Locate the evidence. Since you are revising the thesis, you will either continue using the support you already have or use new support. Make sure that the support, whether old or revised, matches each part of your thesis.

  • Narrator’s Presentation of Elisa: Elisa is an expert in the art of gardening: “Elisa watched them for a moment and then went back to her work. She was thirty-five. Her face was lean and strong and her eyes were as clear as water. Her figure looked block and heavy in her gardening costume, a man’s black hat pulled low down over her eyes, clod-hopper shoes, a figured print dress almost completely covered by a big corduroy apron with four big pockets to hold the snips, the trowel and scratcher, the seeds and the knife she worked with. She wore heavy leather gloves to protect her hands while she worked.”
  • Elisa is a diligent gardener: “Elisa cast another glance toward the tractor shed. The strangers were getting into their Ford coupe. She took off a glove and put her strong fingers down into the forest of new green chrysanthemum sprouts that were growing around the old roots. She spread the leaves and looked down among the close-growing stems. No aphids were there, no sowbugs or snails or cutworms. Her terrier fingers destroyed such pests before they could get started.”
  • Elisa is a teacher: “While the man came through the picket gate Elisa ran excitedly along the geranium-bordered path to the back of the house. . . . The man stood over her. ‘I’ll tell you what to do,’ she said.  ‘You remember so you can tell the lady.’ ‘Yes, I’ll try to remember.’  ‘Well, look.  These will take root in about a month.  Then she must set them out, about a foot apart in good rich earth like this, see?’ She lifted a handful of dark soil for him to look at.  ‘They’ll grow fast and tall. Now remember this: In July tell her to cut them down, about eight inches from the ground.’ ‘Before they bloom?’ he asked. ‘Yes, before they bloom.’ Her face was tight with eagerness. ‘They’ll grow right up again. About the last of September the buds will start.’ ”
  • Elisa’s Relationship with the chrysanthemums and other characters: ‘ “ ‘You’ve got a gift with things,’ Henry observed.  ‘ “ ‘Some of those yellow chrysanthemums you had this year were ten inches across. I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big.’ ” ’ “Her eyes sharpened. ‘ “Maybe I could do it, too. I’ve a gift with things, all right. My mother had it. She could stick anything in the ground and make it grow. She said it was having planters’ hands that knew how to do it.’ “

Rewrite the thesis (introduction). In many cases, you will only have to rewrite the thesis. In this case, we have to create a new thesis. Consider the following.

  • In my paper, I will discuss how Steinbeck presents his character Elisa as an expert in the art of gardening. Steinbeck presents Elisa as a diligent gardener; she also has teacher-like qualities as she explains to another character the process of rooting the sprouts.  Elisa’s relationship with the other characters in the story is centered on her relationship with her chrysanthemums. I will present evidence that supports each part of my thesis. 

Develop topic sentences.

  • 1st Topic Sentence: Steinbeck presents Elisa as an expert in gardening.
  • 2nd Topic Sentence: Steinbeck presents Elisa as a diligent gardener.
  • 3rd Topic Sentence: Steinbeck presents Elisa as having teacher-like qualities.
  • 4th Topic Sentence: Steinbeck presents Elisa’s relationship with other characters in the story as centered on her relationship with the chrysanthemums.

Square the introduction thesis with the conclusion thesis. Make sure that the conclusion thesis has this four-part structure. Do the following:

  • Remove the present conclusion thesis.
  • Type your new introduction thesis at the end of the Word document.
  • Type the new topic sentences at the end of your Word document.
  • When it is time to write the new conclusion, let the new thesis and the new topic sentences be your guide for creating the conclusion. 
  • Do not repeat word-for-word the thesis and the topic sentences in the conclusion thesis.

The most important thing to remember is to ensure that the ideas expressed within the conclusion thesis are congruent and parallel to the ideas expressed within the introduction thesis. The introduction paragraph is the guide, not the conclusion. A conclusion only concludes ideas.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements
  1. Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: