Tutor profile: Alyssa G.
What are the elements of a strong thesis statement?
A strong thesis statement must be specific, argumentative, and defensible. This means that it should focus on a precise rather than broad idea about the subject matter, one must be able to argue the opposing side, and there must be evidence to support the claim. A thesis statement should also include the identification of a greater significance, or the answer to the question: "Why is this important?" This helps to take a thesis statement beyond a simple comparison or assertion and broadens the implications of the essay. If a thesis statement meets each of these qualifications, it is likely to succeed.
Subject: US History
The American institution of slavery was formally abolished by the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Identify and explain the shortcomings of the 13th Amendment and the ways in which it has historically allowed forms of slavery to continue in the United States.
The 13th Amendment states that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States" (U.S. Const., amend. XIII). The wording of this amendment thus creates an exception, allowing slavery to continue as a punishment for a crime. Shortly after the ratification of this amendment, Black Codes, similar to the prior Slave Codes, become prevalent in the Southern states. These statutes criminalized Black individuals disproportionately for minor and subjective violations. Once deemed criminals, former slaves could once again be legally exploited for free labor. The legacy of slavery and the Black Codes can be found in prison labor and the disproportionate incarceration of Black people today.
Toni Morrison was a prolific and masterful author whose works brought to light important questions about race in America. In her short story Recitatif, she establishes that one of the protagonists is white and the other is Black, but purposefully neglects to specify which race belongs to which character. What is the narrative effect of this choice, and how does it lend to readers' understanding of the short story?
In Recitatif, Toni Morrison uses the characters of Twyla and Roberta, who are distinguished by class and by race, to comment on racial stereotypes and cause readers to introspectively examine their own perceptions of race. As readers make assumptions about the race of Twyla or Roberta based on events in the text, Morrison calls upon them to consider the basis of these assumptions when there is no definitive answer to the question of which character is white and which is Black. Thus, the subject of the short story becomes the reader themself as their biases are revealed.
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