How to Arrive at a Thesis Statement

Arriving at a thesis statement/writing an effective thesis statement requires a lot of preparation, planning and thinking before you’re able to write one.

The screenshots below take you through this process:



In this image, you can see that the question has been deconstructed and that I’ve STARTED to apply my chosen text (The Road) to the question.

I’ve started to think about what my essay might be about…



In this image, I’ve applied the text more directly and gathered my evidence base together. I’ve chosen a few RELEVANT quotations and made sure that I’ve applied my question deconstruction to my annotations. Please note that I’ve referred to ‘the ways’ and my annotations in green demonstrate my thinking around the ‘attitudes’. I’d already defined ‘particular groups’ as parents- motherhood and fatherhood.



My final image is two versions of my thesis statement. Both work equally well but you can clearly see that they have been constructed out of my planning, my collection of evidence and my question deconstruction.

Make sure that you use these processes in planning for your next in-class assessment, your Semester 2 examination and your terminal examinations in the summer.











The Road- Modelled Response to a Comprehending Question

Here are the notes from the whiteboard from today’s lesson. Please use them in your planning and preparation for your assessment on the 24th August:


Section One: Short Answer Response Notes

Comprehension section: Suggested 60 minutes allocated for three questions = 20 minutes per question and 200-300 words per question.

Respond in one paragraph in the following format:

INTRODUCTION – 2-3 sentences introducing argument. Restate the question being asked and summarise main point.
P – POINT (Your main idea)
E – EVIDENCE/ EXAMPLE (Direct quotes or indirect quotes [paraphrasing]).
A – ANALYSIS (Elaborate on what you have written to support your answer).
CONCLUSION – 2-3 sentences concluding your answer.


Step One: Deconstruct the Question


Analyse how the man and boy’s relationship with the world is represented in this extract.


Step Two: Plan


Step Three: Write


INTRO: In Cormac McCarthy’s novel, The Road, conflict between the man and the boy occurs in moments where their contrasting perspectives of the world around them becomes clear. The man has memories of the old world, unrecognisable to the boy, whereas the boy is a creature born into this world of chaos.


POINT: Despite the narrative constructing an ever-present familial bond between the man and the boy, they are challenged as they encounter a multitude of moral dilemmas in the apocalyptic landscape in which they seek to survive.


EVIDENCE: An example of this complex relationship is:

1. In the interactions between the man and the boy after the man shot the person from the convoy in the woods. The boy asks, “Are we still the good guys?” (p.80).

  1. “A formless music for the age to come. Or perhaps the last music on earth called up from out of the ashes of its ruin” (p.81).



1. This demonstrates the way that the man often blurs the lines between being a “good guy” and a “bad guy,” because of his dedication to his son. The boy questions their morality, because of the murder, but the man feels justified, as his priority is the safety of the boy.


1. The man and the boy perceive the world differently, because of their relationship with it. The boy sees a clear divide in this world between good and evil, and he judges the actions of the man according to this. The man sees this division in the world, but excludes himself from blame, because of his “good” intentions. The characters’ relationship with the world is shaped by their experiences in it and the man has experienced more hopelessness and loss than the boy can yet imagine.

The Road- Comprehension Activities

The Road: Comprehension Questions


  1. How is The Road allegorical, more specifically an example of a religious allegory?
    Refer to the following themes: spirituality, morality and familial love. Include appropriate examples from the text to support your answer.


Allegory: A narrative with two levels of meaning: The surface (characters, setting, plot, etc.) and the symbolic (deeper ideas embedded within).




  1. Do you think the dystopian, apocalyptic context of the novel provides commentary on the contemporary context in which we read it? Why or why not? What is it commenting or warning us of?




  1. What predictions would you make about our future? Is Cormac McCarthy showing us a world that is a projection of our own? What ever-present threats exist in our own context?



Dystopian and Apocalyptic Fiction

Use the image below as a STARTING POINT for your exploration of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is of central importance that you are able to apply the conventions of the genre to a reading of this text.

To what extent is The Road a dystopian and apocalyptic text? How does this text meet this criteria?

Writing an Engaging Opening to a Narrative

Please look carefully at the opening to a narrative response below and please note the annotations:

The main teaching and learning points are listed below:

  • The opening sentence orientates the reader to a possible/potential location for the narrative and gives us the temporal context for the narrative- it’s early morning and daylight is breaking.
  • The young man is ‘crumpled’ much like the newspapers he’s covered with. The newspapers are symbolic of being discarded, they are worthless and forgotten about… much like him.
  • the setting also works on a symbolic level as it’s clearly an abandoned building. The young man is also constructed as abandoned.
  • The cold which ‘knifed’ him is used metaphorically here. It’s an intertextual reference to a Wilfred Owen poem ‘Exposure’ but it’s used her to show how punishing the winds are. They are cutting and cold.
  • The ‘furtive’ attempt at finding shelter is meant to show how secretive his quest to find shelter is. The word renders him invisible.
  • ‘Any shelter’. I shorted the syntax here to echo his desperation.
  • The question ‘Why?’ is deliberately left open-ended to get the reader to ask what the question might be… and what the possible answer might be to it.
  • ‘Cocoon’ is used ironically here. Cocoons are meant to a place of comfort but his cocoon is anything but.
  • The verb ‘staggered’ gets the reader asking questions about why the young man is staggering.

In short, the paragraph above is designed to get the reader asking questions, it’s meant to engage them and immerse them in the narrative. The next part of the narrative would need to pick up the pace…


Please note the dot points below which represent feedback on one of the student presentations. You will need to use this feedback to modify your own presentations to ensure they are as effective as possible.

  • Comparing the voices in Murdeball and one other text on disability.
  • Starts clearly enough. Could speak a little slower.
  • PPT slides could stay visible slightly longer and would need more explanation.
  • Pace is a little too quick for me.
  • Images look OK and are well selected. Well-chosen quotations from the text also.
  • Effective knowledge of the text.
  • Moved on to masculinity- ‘Macho man thing’. Quite a brief clip but well chosen.
  • Could’ve spent a little longer constructing the masculine stereotype.
  • Second clip was more effective- slightly longer which gives a little more context.
  • Insight into the clip but could’ve been more precise in analysis, the word ‘chick’ for example objectifies women. Be braver in terms of exploring how gender is constructed here.
  • Moved onto the ‘Diving Bell and the Butterfly’.
  • Make sure you mention that this text is a memoir.
  • Remember to leave slides long enough on the screen for people to absorb content.
  • Effective quotation from the text.
  • Try and analyse the language choices a little more. This would offer more insight into text construction.
  • Texts are linked well and effectively.
  • Presentation from both students of a high quality.
  • Well organised.
  • Well planned.
  • Could be more concise in places. Began to ramble a little towards the end. Think you lost a little bit of focus on the text’s construction.
  • Liked how the links were exemplified at the end, though that slide had perhaps too much information.
  • Knew texts well and offered insight.
  • Both spoke clearly.
  • Structured clearly.
  • Memoir not book!
To improve:
  • Slow down a little more and keep some of the slides on the screen for a little longer.
  • Pace of delivery could be slower at times.
  • Text construction could be privileged a little more. Could offer more insight into language choices (dialogue and text) in places.