The second way one uses the word "thesis" is in reference to a major paper that one writes as a capstone for his or her bachelor's or master's degree. Whereas term papers are projects that last one term, theses are projects that last several terms. Theses are usually much, much longer than term papers, often stretching past two hundred pages. Perhaps counterintuitively, however, theses often cover much more specialized topics than term papers. For example, one may write a term paper on Herman Melville for a literature survey course, but one would be much more likely to write a thesis on homosexual symbolism in Herman Melville's Moby Dick or on some other extremely specific aspect of one of Melville's novels. In fact, one could write an entire thesis on a single paragraph of Moby Dick . The goal of a thesis is to expound fully one's opinion on a given subject and to confront and exhaust all the opposition to that opinion. Therefore, one usually specializes his or her thesis topic almost to the point of absurdity.
Here’s a working thesis with potential: you have highlighted an important aspect of the novel for investigation. However, it’s still not clear what your analysis will reveal. Your reader is intrigued but is still thinking, “So what? What’s the point of this contrast? What does it signify?” Perhaps you are not sure yet, either. That’s fine—begin to work on comparing scenes from the book and see what you discover. Free write, make lists, jot down Huck’s actions and reactions. Eventually you will be able to clarify for yourself, and then for the reader, why this contrast matters. After examining the evidence and considering your own insights, you write: