Part of creating an effective essay about a work of literature involves answering the “so what?” question! Answering the “so what” question means asserting the significance of your argument. The conclusion is an excellent place to answer the “so what” question.
In your conclusion, consider the implications of your argument that might extend beyond the points you already discussed in your essay. Answering the “so what” question about your thesis statement gives readers an understanding of why your argument is important in a larger context, either inside or outside the text.
Ask yourself- why your argument matters to you or why it might matter to your reader.
For example, if your main argument (thesis) is that Enkidu and Gilgamesh are similar and different, why does that matter? Why does it matter that we compare and contrast these characters? What does a compare and contrast enlighten readers or shed light on the topic?
Topic: compare and contrast Enkidu and Gilgamesh
Thesis: In Books 1-8 of Stephen Mitchell’s Gilgamesh, the two main characters, Enkidu and Gilgamesh, have similarities and differences.
So what? Analyzing the similarities and differences of Enkidu and Gilgamesh shed light on the value of friendship and the psychological concept of the alter-ego.
Topic: Explicate Ninsun’s speech
Thesis: Ninsun’s prayer, in Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Gilgamesh, is an important part of the text.
So what? Analyzing Ninsun’s prayer allows readers to see how, in this text, prayers are answered. In addition, her act of praise and petition is not very different from the act of prayer practiced by many other religions. Critically examining Ninsun’s prayer to Shamash characterizes her, not as a goddess, but as a mother, helping readers to recognize two universal messages in this speech: the love of a mother for a child and the love between the god(s) and humans.
To answer the “so what” question in your conclusion- ask yourself….
How does my argument affect how I approach this text or how might my argument help someone else appreciate this text?
The answer to the “so what” question is perhaps the most difficult point to make in your essay. It requires you to think critically and make a personal connection with the text. It forces writers to step out of the events in the story and look at the larger message of those events. It is deeply personal, and the answer to “so what” will be unique and different for each of you.
This is a sample of the format it supposed to be in: