How To Write A Conclusion For A Book Essay

The conclusion of the essay

The function of the essay's Conclusion is to restate the main argument. It reminds the reader of the strengths of the argument: that is, it reiterates the most important evidence supporting the argument. Make sure, however, that your conclusion is not simply a repetitive summary as this reduces the impact of the argument you have developed in your essay. The conclusion provides a forum for you to persuasively and succinctly restate your thesis given the reader has now been presented with all the information about the topic. Depending on the discipline you are writing in, the concluding paragraph may also contain a reflection on the evidence presented, or on the essay's thesis. The nature of the reflection will depend on your topic (Woodward-Kron, 1997) but questions such as these may be considered:


What is the significance of your findings?
What are the implications of your conclusions for this topic and for the broader field?
Are their any limitations to your approach?
Are there any other factors of relevance that impact upon the topic but fell outside the scope of the essay?
Are their any suggestions you can make in terms of future research?

The conclusion should match the introduction in terms of the ideas presented and the argument put forward. Sometimes you will find that the process of writing has changed what you have argued and so it will be necessary to go back and reword the introduction. Finally, the conclusion is not the place in your essay to introduce new information or new ideas: these should be in the body of your essay.

Essay Question:: Italy on the eve of 1860 has often been described as an unlikely nation. Why?

Before 1860, only a tiny minority of the population believed that Italy could ever become a unified nation under one Italian ruler. Yet, despite this belief and the many obstacles blocking the path to unificationsuch as differences and suspicion between the many regions of the peninsula, the lack of planning and common goals that saw many uprisings fail and the divergent views and politics amongst the men who fought for unity,the Piedmont region emerged "...as the nucleus around which the rest of Italy could gather" (Mack Smith, 1959: 17). On March 17, 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed. Italy was no longer a geographical expression, it was a nation.reference to essay question
reiteration of thesis point
overview of main arguments explaining the obstacles to Italy's unification
concluding comment and reference to essay question

1 This essay has been adapted from material developed by R. Woodward-Kron, E. Thomson & J. Meek (2000) Academic Writing: a language based guide (CD-ROM), University of Wollongong



© Copyright 2000
Comments and questions should
be directed to Unilearning@uow.edu.au

 

Writing a Conclusion

It’s important to write a good introduction. It’s important to keep things organized in the main body of your writing. And it’s important to write a good conclusion. In a nonfiction piece, the purpose of a conclusion is to tie things up, summarize what has been said, and reinforce the main idea. In a creative writing piece, it also helps tie things up and might also leave the reader thinking or wondering.

A good way to get started writing conclusions is to give yourself a starting point. You can begin with any of the following: to sum up, in conclusion, in summary. Make sure these sound appropriate and fit well with what you’ve written. As you grow as a writer, you might want to leave these behind and try other strategies.

Use what you’ve written to help you write your conclusion. You can often rephrase what you included in your introductory paragraph. If you began with, "The colors of autumn make it my favorite season," then you can include a similar sentence in your conclusion. For example, "It is the orange, red, and brown of the leaves that make me love the fall."

You can also end with a question. This may or may not be effective, depending on the content and style of your writing. For a story about a boy who gets a new puppy, you might end with, "Can you imagine all the wonderful things to come?" For a piece on the importance of brushing your teeth, you might make the reader think with something like, "You don’t want all of that on your teeth all night long, do you?"

However you choose to write your conclusion, be sure that it fits well with your piece. It should flow naturally and remind the reader of the wonderful things you’ve written.

Time4Writing provides practice in this area. View our coursework available in Middle School Advanced Essay or browse other related courses.


What is a conclusion?

  • A conclusion is what you will leave with your reader
  • It "wraps up" your essay
  • It demonstrates to the reader that you accomplished what you set out to do
  • It shows how you have proved your thesis
  • It provides the reader with a sense of closure on the topic

Structure

  • A conclusion is the opposite of the introduction
  • Remember that the introduction begins general and ends specific
  • The conclusion begins specific and moves to the general

Essay Structure

  • So, if we use shapes to demonstrate the essay’s content, it would look like this:

Introduction

Thesis statement

Body of Essay

Rephrased thesis statement

Conclusion


What to include

  • Your conclusion wraps up your essay in a tidy package and brings it home for your reader
  • Your topic sentence should summarize what you said in your thesis statement
    • This suggests to your reader that you have accomplished what you set out to accomplish
  • Do not simply restate your thesis statement, as that would be redundant
    • Rephrase the thesis statement with fresh and deeper understanding
  • Your conclusion is no place to bring up new ideas
  • Your supporting sentences should summarize what you have already said in the body of your essay
    • If a brilliant idea tries to sneak into the final paragraph, you must pluck it out and let it have its own paragraph in the body, or leave it out completely
  • Your topic for each body paragraph should be summarized in the conclusion
  • Your closing sentence should help the reader feel a sense of closure
  • Your closing sentence is your last word on the subject; it is your "clincher"
    • Demonstrate the importance of your ideas
    • Propel your reader to a new view of the subject
    • End on a positive note
  • Your closing sentence should make your readers glad they read your paper

Strategies for an effective conclusion

  • Play the "So What" Game.
    • When you read a statement from the conclusion, ask yourself, "So what?" or "Why should anybody care?"
    • Ponder that question and answer it
      • Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass
      • So what?
      • Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen
      • Why should anybody care?
      • That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally.
  • Return to the theme or themes in the introduction
    • This brings the reader full circle
    • If you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding
    • Refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words, or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction
  • Summarize
    • Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in the paper
  • Pull it all together
    • Show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together
  • Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for the paper
  • Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study
  • Point to broader implications
    • A paper about the style of writer, Virginia Woolf, could point to her influence on other writers or later feminists

Concluding strategies that do not work

  • Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase
  • These may work in speeches, but they come across as wooden and trite in writing
    • "in conclusion"
    • "in summary"
    • "in closing"
    • "as shown in the essay"
  • Stating the thesis for the very first time
  • Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion
  • Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of the paper
  • Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper

Ineffective conclusions

  • "That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It"
    • Restates the thesis and is usually painfully short
    • Does not push ideas forward
    • Written when the writer can’t think of anything else to say
    • Example
      • In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
  • "Sherlock Holmes"
    • State the thesis for the first time in the conclusion
    • Writer thinks it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in suspense and then "wow" them with the main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery
    • Readers want an analytical discussion of the topic in academic style, with the thesis statement up front
  • "America the Beautiful"
    • Draws on emotion to make its appeal
    • Out of character with the rest of the paper
  • "Grab Bag"
    • Includes extra information thought of or found but couldn’t integrate into the main body
    • Creates confusion for the reader

Conclusion outline

  • Topic sentence
    • Fresh rephrasing of thesis statement
  • Supporting sentences
    • Summarize or wrap up the main points in the body of the essay
    • Explain how ideas fit together
  • Closing sentence
    • Final words
    • Connects back to the introduction
    • Provides a sense of closure

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