Concluding Paragraphs

H o w    t o    W r i t e    a    C o n c l u s i o n    P a r a g r a p h

your thesis in
a single sentence.

Restate the main ideas
of your essay. Draw connections
between them, showing how they work
together to prove your thesis (3-5 sentences).

Draw conclusions. Expand on the ideas in your essay.
Show why your essay matters by connecting to larger themes
in the novel or in real life. You might choose to mirror your introduction:
if you summarized the beginning of the novel, now summarize the end (in a way
relevant to your paper, of course). If you described a character at the beginning
of the novel, now describe the character at the end. If you began your essay by connecting to the world, connect back to the world in your conclusion. Try to leave your reader thinking about something additional to your argument*. (3-6 sentences).

PLEASE AVOID beginning your concluding paragraph with a sentence that starts with “In conclusion…” – it is uninteresting and gets used far, far too often.

* In regards to the “leave the reader thinking” task – a good conclusion *can* bring up a piece of evidence that you didn’t have time for in your essay, or one that didn’t merit a full conversation, if it might encourage your reader to see a part of the novel/play/poem in a new light. For instance, if you had just completed an essay on Life of Pi in which you made an argument about the line between man and animal, you could end by reminding the reader of the scene at the zoo with the two Mr. Kumars when they marvel at the zebras. Even *these* two minor characters seem to recognize the importance of the animal world – AND it is one that ends up making a later appearance on the lifeboat.

Sample “reverse funnel” conclusion paragraph:

     Tim O’Brien uses Mary Anne Bell as a representation of the changes soldiers make when they go to war. Her drastic change from her arrival as a pretty, innocent woman to a soldier who loses herself completely to war shows that war is a difficult environment to adapt to. As he shows in various other chapters, Mary Anne’s transformation is not unique. Jimmy Cross never fully recovers from the horrors he saw, and Norman Bowker finds the return to “normal” life to be an impossible burden. Typically, soldiers who come back from war experience a transformation where they find their own world and their own experiences no longer seem familiar to themselves. Soldiers struggle to first adapt to a life of war and then to adapt back to a normal lifestyle. Those adaptations, according to O’Brien, are where soldiers suffer the deepest tragedies of wartime.