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9.2: Conclusions

  • Page ID
    225935
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    WHAT IS A CONCLUSION?

    The conclusion is the last paragraph in the essay that brings the writer’s argument to a close and makes the reader reflect on the discussion in the body of the essay. Conclusions provide effective closure for the discussion in the body paragraphs but don’t simply summarize but rather look at the larger implications of the topic.

    WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

    So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view and to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. The impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay. Your conclusion should be the best part of your paper.

    The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, and its implications. The final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.

    HOW DO I CREATE ONE?

    1. Before you begin:

    Read your entire essay and think of your larger purpose. What exactly does your reader need to think about as you close your essay? Review your thesis so that you know where the paper started. This helps you review and sometimes re-envision your thesis leaving you with a stronger more articulated argument.

    1. What to avoid in a conclusion:
    • Avoid beginning with “in conclusion” or “finally.” Your reader should know the paragraph concludes the essay based on the content.
    • Avoid directly copying your thesis to your conclusion.
    • Avoid summarizing the whole paper.
    • Avoid introducing new ideas. If you find yourself introducing a new idea, then evaluate the significance of the idea to see if it instead deserves a body paragraph.
    • Avoid throwing the paper off balance by being excessively long or conversely ending with a conclusion that is under-developed and too brief.
    1. Decide on an effective closing approach:

    Authors use different types of conclusions for different kinds of essays. Below is a list of the more popular styles for conclusions but like with approaches for introductions, don’t feel limited to this list as there are many creative approaches you can use:

    • Reinforce the larger significance of the discussion showing your readers why the paper was important, meaningful and/or useful—answer the question “so what?”
    • Propose a course of action.
    • Make a prediction.
    • Challenge the reader to look to the future.
    • Establish a sense of closure in your essay by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word, phrase, reference or idea you used at the beginning.
    • End with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective.
    • Offer opinions that your reader might not have accepted earlier.
    • Consider the implications or outcomes of your argument.
    • Try to solve a problem you have raised.

    Example of conclusions

    Here are some example conclusions using some of the approaches listed:

    • Reinforce the larger significance of the discussion. Here is an example:

    Language is constantly changing. New words, influenced by our changing society, are continually enriching our vocabulary and our worldview. As a result, it is our task to keep up with the new and evolving terminology or we will be left out on a local and global level. As language unites us through newspapers, blogs, posts, emails, and texts, we must be open to new ways to connect through language and be ready to broaden the language we use. Having adaptable literacy skills is vital to remain in command of and an active participant in our ever-changing dialogue.

    • Make a prediction if the outcome is favorable or unfavorable. Here is an example:

    Great civilizations have left behind documents which are still used today in the court of law and which dictate our moral code. The oppressed have become free once they have harnessed the power of the written world. Frederick Douglass in his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, expressed how literacy gave him the ability to see the injustice of his condition, “The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers.” If we want to live in a society that seeks to uproot oppression and lives by a consistent moral code, the key is literacy. If not, if we fail to promote literacy, we will lose our voices and our abilities to oppose injustice and provide equal protection for our citizens.

    • Call to action. Here is an example:

    We must restructure our educational system and reexamine our educational values. Currently, the emphasis on standardized testing is not promoting the complex critical thinking and literacy skills needed to be successful in today’s society. Rather, our education system must be fully committed to teaching a rigorous curriculum of reading and writing skills so that our students are able to continue the push toward progress.

    • Challenging the reader to look into the future. Here is an example:

    Strong reading and writing skills are essential for human progress. A society which is literate will grow and thrive, creating a better world for our children. However, technology is causing our literacy skills to deteriorate as we passively watch and listen rather than read and write. Also, if money continues to dictate who receives quality education, a larger illiterate class will grow, and we will lose the vast potential of future generations. We need to ensure that active literacy is both encouraged and accessible to all or else we will not progress but rather devolve into a passive, ignorant, and apathetic society.

    Practice

    Analyze these conclusions and describe the different approaches each one used:

    CREATIVE APPROACHES FOR CONCLUSIONS:

    • Reinforce the larger significance
    • Propose a course of action
    • Make a prediction
    • Challenge the reader to look to the future
    • Link the last paragraph to the first
    • End with a quotation
    • Offer opinions your reader might not have accepted earlier.
    • Consider the implications or outcomes of your argument
    • Try to solve a problem you have raised

    (1) The Simpsons has a great impact on its viewers, making the show a part of America’s collective consciousness. While the Simpsons themselves have both positive and negative qualities, these negative qualities—these flaws—make them more human to us, more believable as a family. The positive qualities they exhibit, although not always as prevalent, give us both hope and make us believe in the goodness of modern humankind. We watch the Simpsons because they are a reflection of ourselves with all of our quirkiness and imperfections. The negativity in each show does not so much cause us to think of and feel evil or malice, but adds to the general enjoyment and provides material that leads to the discussion of a moral.

    (2) So what are we to do in such a dangerous world? While our access to the Internet seems like any other natural right, it in fact carries a great deal of responsibility. And as much as we would like to extend that responsibility to everyone, we must realize that not everyone has the experience to act reasonably in such a dangerous domain. Currently we restrict the right to vote to persons over the age of 18 and the right to drink alcohol to persons over the age of 21 since we assume they are not ready to sensibly partake in these activities. We live in a time when freedom is more precious than ever. It is natural to want to extend freedoms and rights to as many people as possible, but we have to think of their safety. Just as no one has the right to put others’ lives in danger—in a car on the freeway or a plane in the sky—children should not have unmonitored access to the internet if they are endangering themselves. We must help minors help themselves.

    Analyze these conclusions and describe the different approaches each one used:

    CREATIVE APPROACHES FOR CONCLUSIONS:

    • Reinforce the larger significance
    • Propose a course of action
    • Make a prediction
    • Challenge the reader to look to the future
    • Link the last paragraph to the first
    • End with a quotation
    • Offer opinions your reader might not have accepted earlier.
    • Consider the implications or outcomes of your argument
    • Try to solve a problem you have raised

    (3) If young children do not realize that their parents speak from firsthand experience of their own youth, how can parents convince their children of their wisdom? The answer lies in the trust that must be established in the family. Parents need to make conscious efforts to set time aside to connect with and bond with their children even when children reach the ages when they seek more independence. Parents need to share their life stories with their children, even the ones of poor decisions and regret, so children can learn from their elders and avoid similar pitfalls. Children learn from and respect honesty and will trust and relate to their parents more if they are allowed to see that they too make mistakes. If children have learned to trust their folks, they will heed them, whether or not they understand the source of their knowledge.

    (4) Challenges to homophobia and the rigidity of gender roles must go beyond the visible lesbian and gay movement. Lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals alone cannot defuse the power of stigmatization and the license it gives to frighten, wound, or kill. Literally millions of us are needed on this front, straight and gay alike. We invite any heterosexual unwilling to live with the damage that “real men” or “real women” messages wreak on them, on their children, and on lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals to join us. We ask that you not let queer jokes go unchallenged at work, at home, in the media, or anywhere. We ask that you foster in your children a genuine respect for themselves and their right to be who and what they wish to be, regardless of their gender…We ask that you invite your lesbian, gay, and bisexual friends and relatives into the routine of your lives without demanding silence or discretion from them…We ask that you stand with us in public demonstrations to demand our right to live as free people, without fear. We ask that you respect our dignity by acting to end the poison of homophobia” (Vasquez 165).

    Answer

    (1) Reinforce the larger significance
    (2) Propose a course of action and offer opinions your reader might not have accepted earlier
    (3) Try to solve a problem you have raised
    (4) Propose a course of action


    This page titled 9.2: Conclusions is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Skyline English Department.

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