Advertisement

Conclusion

Your reader has just absorbed a lot of information and a lot of analysis. After this intellectual gauntlet, they may be a little disoriented. Now is your opportunity to grab them by the shoulders (but only if they give you permission) and remind them what the essay was all about. What were you trying to prove and how did you prove it? What do you want your reader to walk away with?

Provide a quick, tight summary of the essay's main points. The thing is though; you need to use original language. If you parrot exactly what you've said before, you're going to sound lazy. Bawk! Polly wants to repeat herself!

The conclusion is also a great place to make the reader feel like they've read something important. Why was your point important? You don’t have to have written a Nobel Prize-winning work for it to be valuable or informative. How could this essay help the readers better understand themselves or the world around them? Answer these questions after your quick sum-up and you're good to go.

Examples:

Daryl and Nadia have both written spirited indictments of what's commonly referred to as "partialing," the habit of eating just a portion of some communal food and leaving the rest behind. Picture someone who pulls off the top of a muffin in the office kitchen and leaves the “trunk” languishing in the box.

Imagine the little brother who takes a handful out of an individual CHEEZ-IT snack pack and leaves the half-full, deflated bag for someone else to deal with. That sort of thing. Now the two writers are trying to mount a rousing conclusion. Daryl fails—he merely rehashes his previous points. Nadia succeeds by briefly summarizing her previous points before explaining what is important about what might seem like a trivial topic.

Daryl's Painfully Horrible Example:

Partialing is inconvenient for the other people who are sharing food. Often they will be heading for a snack and find that they’ve been left with a crummy, discarded half-portion. This is not pleasant or appetizing. Also, partialing is quite wasteful; food left behind in the partialing process is thrown out 90% of the time. Finally, those 10% who persevere and eat the remnants of a half-eaten snack are more likely to catch illnesses from the perpetrator. In all, partialing is very bad.

Nadia’s Astonishingly Good Example:

I have here established the practical consequences of partialing—it is unappetizing, it is wasteful, and it makes us sick. But we are just talking about snacks, and similar dangers and inconveniences face us in virtually every arena of life. What's so important about partialing then? The practice also has a social dimension that is perhaps even more damaging than its practical consequences. Society itself functions because we can, most of the time, trust that other people will act in the interest of the community and do no harm to others—even when no one is watching. We know that most people who pass our car on the street won't break the window and rip out the stereo. Partialing is one of those minor daily acts that begins to erode that trust. The act forces us to imagine a world populated with sneaky, selfish people, fulfilling only their own needs and fulfilling them exactly, even if doing so inconveniences everyone else. How can we trust the fellow humans across the ocean to refrain from launching nukes at us if we can't expect someone to behave themselves in the kitchen mere yards away? Indeed, partialing inconveniences us, but it also makes us suspicious and isolated—and therefore less safe.