Choosing Your Topic and Identifying Your Thesis

I need help with a Writing question. All explanations and answers will be used to help me learn.

This work has 2 part, first one is chose a topic and identify a thesis to finish an outline. ( I will upload an outline format, please follow the outline format to finish the outline). Second, use the outline that you finished, to write an essay with MLA format. (I will upload the requirement about the essay)

For this Essay , you will choose between two below topics—analysis of setting to illustrate a theme or analysis of characterization to illustrate a theme. You may use anyone of the short stories we have read. The topics are explained, and information is given below to help you formulate a thesis for each topic.

Option 1: Analysis of Setting to Illustrate a Theme

Setting is a description of where and when the story takes place. It refers to the natural or artificial scenery or environment in which characters in literature live and move. What is the time period, the location, the time of day, the season, the weather, the type of room or building? What is the general mood, and who is present? Such things as time of day and the consequent amount of light at which an event occurs, the flora and fauna, the sounds described, objects in a room, the smells, and sounds are also part of the setting.

When analyzing setting, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How is the setting created? Consider geography, weather, time of day, social conditions, etc.
  • What role does setting play in the story? Is it an important part of the plot or theme? Or is it just a backdrop against which the action takes place?

Consider the time period, which is also part of the setting, and ask yourself the following:

  • When was the story written?
  • Does it take place in the present, the past, or the future?
  • How does the time period affect the language, atmosphere or social circumstances of the short story?

In order to create an argument about the function of the setting in a particular work, you need to identify the principal settings and to see how they work. Here are some steps you can take:

1) Read the story and mark references to setting. Start with the place and time of the action and then focus upon recurrent details and objects.

2) Think about what the story is about. What happens? What is its point or theme? Is it a story about love, jealousy, pride, determination, hypocrisy, gain, or loss? What is the main experience here?

3) Look through your setting notes and see if they fall into any pattern. What are the interesting shifts and contrasts?

4) Determine how the setting relates to either the main point of the story (step 2) In other words what does the setting have to do with the theme or the story’s main point? What are its effects? Whatever you decide here will be your tentative thesis statement.


Characterization deals with how the characters in the story are described. Short stories usually focus on one central character or protagonist. Character refers to the qualities assigned to the individual figures in the plot. Consider why the author assigns certain qualities to a character or characters and how any such qualities might relate to the story’s main point or theme. Ask yourself the following:

  • Who is the main character?
  • Are the main character and other characters described through dialogue – by the way they speak (dialect or slang for instance)?
  • Has the author described the characters by physical appearance, thoughts and feelings, and interaction (the way they act towards others)?
  • Are they static/flat characters who do not change?
  • Are they dynamic/round characters who DO change?
  • What type of characters are they? What qualities stand out? Are they stereotypes?
  • Are the characters believable?


Note that each sample thesis below contains a/an

  • element of fiction that the writer will explore (character or setting)
  • theme that is revealed by the element of fiction
  • title of the literary text
  • author of the literary text
  • strong verb

You may or may not use one of the below thesis statements, but the best thesis statements will include all the characteristics mentioned above and illustrated in the samples. Some of the sample statements also preview the subpoints that will be developed in the body to support the main claim made by the thesis. You may or may not include subpoints as part of your thesis.

  • Flannery O’Connor uses (setting or characterization) in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” to suggest that modern American society needs salvation. (The body will explain how three characters, or three traits of one character, reveal this theme.)
  • In “A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty creates a fictional character in Phoenix Jackson whose determination, faith, and cunning illustrate the indomitable human spirit. (The body will address each of the three characteristics mentioned in the thesis to support the stated theme.)
  • Flannery O’Connor’s characterization of the Grandmother in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” illustrates the negative effect of the selfishness upon one’s family. (The body will develop three of the Grandmother’s character traits to explain the theme).
  • In Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday Use,” Dee exhibits arrogant behavior that reveals the negative consequence of a superficial education about her heritage. (The body will explain three ways that Dee’s arrogance illustrates this theme).
  • By using the character of the Mother as a foil to the protagonist (the Grandmother) in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor illustrates the theme that modern women seem to take a passive role in the way they live and die. (The body will show how three ways the Mother is opposite from the Grandmother reveal this theme.)
  • The Misfit’s character in Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” reveals that a person’s environmental influences may cause a person to develop a negative, even psychotic, personality. (The body will examine three environmental influences that lead to him becoming a mass murderer.)
  • Flannery O’Connor uses setting in “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” to suggest that modern American society needs salvation. (The body will develop three parts of the setting (or three aspects of one setting) that reveal this theme.)
  • A close look at the details of setting in “The Story of an Hour” reveals the theme that social institutions, such as marriage, suppress women’s development of a personal identity. (The body will examine three details of the setting that illustrate this theme.)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne uses setting in “Young Goodman Brown” to illustrate the dangers of pride (or hypocrisy). (The body will examine three details of the setting that illustrate this theme.)
  • In “A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty uses three major obstacles as part of the setting to illustrate the human spirit’s ability to overcome challenging environmental barriers. (The body will examine three details of the setting/obstacles that illustrate this theme.)
  • By making objects—such as a butter churn and dasher, benches for the table, and quilts—an essential part of the setting for “Everyday Use,” Alice Walker shows that the value of a person or thing is not based in money. (The body will explain how these three objects reveal this theme.)

Below are thesis templates that you may find helpful in identifying and articulating your thesis.

  • (Author) develops the character of (character’s name) in (literary work) to develop the (theme of blank).
  • (Author) (shows, develops, illustrates) the (theme of blank)in the (play, poem, story).
  • In (title of work), (author) uses (characterization or setting) to (define, strengthen, illustrate) the (theme of blank).