Tony’s Thesis

Tony’s Thesis: An example of using a thesis statement

On the page about using a thesis as a form of mental processing, I mentioned my son’s tenth grade experience. His tenths grade teacher gave students the assignment of choosing one author and reading several books by this author. My son, Tony, chose H.P. Lovecraft, a Rhode Island author who wrote very early horror stories.

Tony and I had joined a group that walked through an area of Rhode Island near Brown University. The leader of the group pointed out the houses where Lovecraft had once lived, and some of the houses he wrote about. When asked to write a list of questions about what they read, Tony listed at least ten or fifteen questions. The question he finally chose to work with was “Why does Lovecraft write about real people, real places, and actual historical events? His chose this question because, he had a good idea about the answer.

Before I go any further I need to explain that Tony is severely dyslexic. In tenth grade he was probably reading at third grade level – not nearly enough to read high school material. His writing skills were even worse. I read many of these books to him. Others we found on tape so he could listen to them. When it came to writing, he dictated and I typed on the computer.

Tony’s Question: Why did Lovecraft use real people places and events?

Tony’s thesis: Using real people, places and events so people would think the story really happened and get more scared when awful things happened.

He began to list examples that supported his thesis. Slowly, he added to his thesis. Reading about real people, and people we never heard of that could have been real made it easy to believe they were real true. Even the people who were pretty likely to be fictional appeared to realistic most of the time. But there were the horrible monsters or indescribably strange things happening that really were scary.

By the time he was ready to write the paper, the title was “The four levels of reality in the writing of H.P. Lovecraft.” The four levels were

  1. The historically real people, places and events
  2. The people, places and events that were apparently real
  3. The people, places and events that were fictional
  4. The things and events that were so terrifying that they couldn’t even be described

The paper began with an introduction, had four main sections – one for each of the above with quotes from several books to illustrate what he was describing, and ended with a conclusion. It was far better though through and organized than many college papers.

Not only did Tony learn an excellent lesson on how to write a good paper, but I also learned a lot that I wish my teachers had taught me.

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