Project #84603 - Conclusion

What makes a good conclusion?

There are a few answers to that question.  Probably the more accurate question is this: What are the characteristics of a good conclusion?

1. Closure

The first characteristic of a good conclusion is that it provides closure, meaning that the reader is satisfied that the essay feels finished, that all that was promised in the introduction and thesis has been accomplished in the essay, and the essay feels complete.  There is a feeling that comes with this closure, and that feeling is hard to achieve if you open up new topics in the conclusion.  It shouldn't start new things; it should tidy up all that has been begun in the essay. One trick to provide this feeling of closure is to do what is called a circular conclusion, where you remind the reader of the introduction and bring some kind of closure to what it (the introduction) provided for the essay.  To use our Introduction Quiz intro as an example, the writer might refer back to that anecdote/description of the science room at the Alternative Education Program, stating something to the this effect:

"When we have schools that all emulate the AEP, ADHD will no longer be seen as a disease but as the first clue of what was wrong with our educational system in the first place, problems that we that we had been denying existed, problems that our children, particularly those diagnosed with ADHD have been made made scapegoats for.  Then we will no longer be blaming our children for being children. If our schools look more like AEP, we will have finally corrected the most serious problems in our schools.   Our children will be learning the way humans were meant to learn, dynamically, joyfully, wonderfully."

2. Unity and Coherence

A good conclusion often helps to make sure that the reader remembers how the thesis was developed throughout the paper.  This means that it makes references to the thesis as well as some of the most important support points made and examples used in the body of the paper.  This doesn't mean that the conclusion is a simple summary, but it does use elements of summary.  What you are trying to do is to hit the high points of the paper, emphasizing your most effective points and examples as necessary.  That doesn't mean that you are just repeating or referring to these points; you are bringing these points together to recreate their power. By the way, please don't think that this means that you wait until the conclusion to bring the argument of your paper together.  You construct your argument through each paragraph of the paper, but the conclusion is the final place to emphasize those points and make sure that they cohere (come together) forcefully for the reader.  Do not contradict your main point in the conclusion or leave your reader confused.  The idea is to end on a strong, clear, consistent note.

3.  Force/Power/Emphasis

What are most people talking about as they exit a movie theater?  If it is a good film with a strong ending (or a particularly weak one), they are probably discussing the ending.  Like the viewer of a film, your reader will probably remember what he or she read last, and that is the conclusion.  You need to make it strong, make it forceful.  If it is forgettable, your point might be as well.  Avoid the wishy-washy or fence sitting kinds of conclusions, "Everyone has his or her own view on this," or "People disagree." If you have a worthwhile point to make in your paper, it is worth making sure that your reader will remember it.  Emphasize that point well.  (Realize that is different from being extremist. You can have a strong, well thought through point without it falling one extreme side or the other of the argument.  For example, compromise can be the result of strong logic and ethics.  Stating that it doesn't matter what people think about your paper's topic isn't.)

4.  Balance and Appropriateness: Fits the Size, Purpose, and Type of Essay

There are different kinds of conclusions just as there are different kinds of introductions.  The secret is to use a conclusion that fits the paper.  One good rule to follow is the rule of balance.  This means that you don't write a conclusion that is far longer or far shorter than the average size of other paragraphs in the paper.  (It should be about the average length of the paragraphs throughout the paper.) Common types of conclusions include predictions (what does the future hold, given the paper topic), calls to action (now we must do something about this topic), circular conclusions (that harken back to the introduction, as exemplified above), and retrospectives (narrative conclusions that look back on a personal incident from a future time (and a more mature viewpoint) where the writer will draw conclusions about it).  You might use any of these in your Personal Legend paper, but I suspect that the retrospective conclusion might be one of the most common.

Below are three conclusions for the same Personal Legend paper. Read all three and then:

1. Identify what kind of conclusion each one is. 

2. Explain what you like and don't like about each conclusion, trying as much as possible to use the criteria above (not just personal preferences that might not use significant criteria).

3.  Pick the conclusion you like best and explain why you would use it in your paper.

4.  Copy and paste that conclusion into your answer and revise it, explaining why you made the changes that you did.

Conclusion One: Those fishing trips that I took with my dad ended five years ago when he died in in an automobile accident.  He was an independent long haul truck driver, and he died coming home one night to be with us the night before Christmas Eve, 2009.  I suppose that part of my desire to became a park ranger is a tribute him, to those wonderful times we spent in the boat, cracking silly jokes, listening to my dad's stories about growing up on a cattle ranch in Wyoming, or having long philosophical discussions that often ended with us thoughtfully listening to the breeze on the water.  Along with that, however, I would like to be a part of of those good times for families who continue to come to parks today.  I could live a good, contented life, living my Personal Legend, guiding families to the best fishing holes, telling them stories about the land, and maybe slipping in a few silly jokes that my father once told me, sharing my love of the land with generations to come.

Conclusion Two: My dad taught me the importance of the water, the land, and the sky, and he taught me how fragile their health could be.  We often talked about the dangers facing Blue Lake, clear cutting, mining, development, over fishing, the degradation of the watershed that feeds the lake.  I would be sad sometimes, thinking about future generations, families who couldn't fish this lake because it was polluted or because it was fished out.  I've been thinking a lot about the future of our lands, and I'm not ashamed to admit that tears well up in my eyes, when I read that the Colorado River no longer flows to the ocean or when another salmon run has ended on another river.  I want to work as a park ranger to make sure current environmental trends don't lead to their seemingly inevitable future scenarios, and kids like my little two-year-old Toby can enjoy a fishing trip with me in a few years...or 40 years from now. That is my Personal Legend.

Conclusion Three: My Personal Legend started when my dad, who was half Nisqually, taught me the traditional ways of our tribe, as many as he knew, and when he told me honestly about the good and the bad of the world. Dad would show me both the beautiful, unspoiled waters of Blue Lake, and the pollution caused by too many motor boats on the lake ten years later.  We would walk through the old growth timber, and we would walk through the clear cuts that damaged the watershed.  I remember when he wiped a tear away after looking at the clear cut area he used to hike with his dad up to spirit falls, a sacred site. Since that time, Blue Lake has gone from a pristine lake where we always caught our limit to a lake where there are very few fish left and which is closed halfway through the season because of water quality.  It is time to take action.  I feel that I have a calling to become a park ranger, to protect our valuable natural places so that we still have places for families to go.  I'm not just going to tell good stories at the campfire circle.  I want to tell the truth about destruction of our air, land, and water before it is too late.  We have to act now so that I can take my boy Toby out fishing with me, 4 years and 40 years from now.

Subject English
Due By (Pacific Time) 10/03/2015 12:00 am
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