Chapter 6: One Last Time Before You Go: The Conclusion and Final Review
The common belief that goldfish have three-second memories is most likely a myth, but the metaphor still works for describing the problematic repetition inherent in the five-paragraph essay. It is highly unlikely you will be writing for goldfish at any point in your scholarly career, and it is equally unlikely that readers of your work will possess three-second memories. Your readers do not need to be reminded repeatedly of your essay’s focus and purpose.
The audience of your midterm essay, similar to the audience of our analysis of “The Ultimate Communications App,” will certainly not need to be reminded of your thesis in your conclusion—they will not have forgotten it since reading your introduction. This type of essay simply isn’t long enough for the focused reader to forget its purpose. Nor do you have the space in a short essay such as this one to repeat your thesis at the expense of examining different aspects of the text under analysis. Rather than treating your conclusion as if it is a return to your thesis, consider it as a final questioning and presentation of your thesis from the new position you have arrived at through your analysis.
Your thesis identified a focus (first storey) and built an interpretive claim (second storey) around that focus with an eye to making a final claim about what text is really doing. In your conclusion, you have arrived at the point where you can confidently make your final claim about the entire text. Essentially, your conclusion should justify your particular reading and make a final declaration on the benefit and consequence of discussing the text in the way you have. Remember that you are inviting others to discuss and debate this text with you, so your conclusion is not intended to shut down all future conversation on the essay, nor is it a final proclamation of your reading as the “right” and “only” reading of the text. While you do not want to end your essay with an arms-in-the-air disavowal of everything you have done or a pleading “What do you think?” to your readers, you do want your readers to consider the implications of your reading of this text upon their understanding of it. You want your readers to recognize your interpretation as a valuable contribution to the ongoing scholarly conversation.
In many ways, your conclusion is your own assessment of the writing you have completed to this point. You cannot write a conclusion without first reassessing your essay as it now stands. For the purposes of demonstration, let’s review our analytical essay-in-progress on Justice’s “The Ultimate Communications App” and determine exactly what we have left to say.