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Thesis that makes a specific claim about a theme in Alexie’s novel

For your final essay, you will analyze a theme in Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues, and support your

analysis with outside research. You can address any theme that interests you, but the following questions/topics

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might help you get started. The answer to any of these questions can be your thesis.

1) How does Sherman Alexie depict life on a reservation? In other words, what is he asking outside readers

to understand about life on a reservation?

2) What is Robert Johnson’s role in the novel? Is he there to teach the characters or the readers something?

3) What is the effect of Alexie’s use of magical realism? What idea, theme, or message does it help


4) How does each character cope with particular challenges they face on or off the reservation? (The best

papers will focus on one character and trace his or her development, rather than trying to talk about


5) There are many references to Rock & Roll and Blues throughout the book. What purpose do these

references serve? Do they symbolize something? Do they help Alexie convey something about Native

American culture?

Tips for writing a successful essay:

• Think of a creative title for your paper that reflects your argument.

• Make sure that your introduction is developed (4-5 sentences). Depending on your paper topic, you

could provide some background on Sherman Alexie, Native American history, Robert Johnson, rock &

roll, etc.

• Craft a thesis that makes a specific claim about a theme in Alexie’s novel (see the prompts above). Your

thesis statement should be placed at the end of your introduction.

• Use transitional topic sentences to begin each of your body paragraphs. These topic sentences should

state the main idea of your paragraph and tie back to your thesis. Do not begin paragraphs with

quotations or summary.

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