What's a theme? How is it supported (motifs, symbols, imagery)?
Examples of potential themes - what is Cisneros suggesting about these topics?
What could you argue - make a claim - about the following:
Loss of Innocence - Coming of Age
Individual Identity and Communal Loyalty
Estrangement and Loss
Alienation and Discplacement
Assimilation versus Cultural Traditions
Power of... Love/Language/Community/Family/Friendship
Escape and Return
Foreignness and Otherness
The Home vs. a House
Womanhood: Sexuality and Femininity
Dreams, Hopes, and Fears
Lure of Romance
Independence/Autonomy and Dependence/Oppression
Gender Roles: Sexual Inequality and Patriarchy
Religion and Superstition
What's a good introduction? Tell us what you're going to argue.
What's a thesis? A persuasive argument (not a topic sentence).
What's evidence? Textual support - specific examples!
What's a counterargument? Acknowledge your cases weakness - and make it a persuasive strength
What's a convincing conclusion? Some writing advice from Harvard, especially on what NOT to do:
- Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
- Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
- Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."