English

What is the thesis of the essay "A non-smoker with a smoker" by Phillip Lopate?

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asked by Shila
  1. I didn't find that essay online. However, the thesis sentence is often the last sentence of the first paragraph. Does that seem to be the thesis?

  2. D: okay

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    posted by Shila
  3. I found a link for the essay but it won't let me send links on here. :(

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    posted by Shila
  4. Please copy and paste the last sentence in the first paragraph.

  5. This is the FIRST PARAGRAPH:
    Last Saturday night my girlfriend, Helen, and I went to a dinner party in the Houston suburbs. We did not know
    our hosts, but were invited on account of Helen’s chum Barry, whose birthday party it was. We had barely
    stepped into the house and met the other guests, seated on a U-shaped couch under an A-framed ceiling, when
    Helen lit a cigarette. The hostess froze. “Uh, could you please not smoke in here? If you have to, we’d appreciate
    your using the terrace. We’re both sort of allergic.”

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    posted by Shila
  6. Thanks -- but that doesn't seem to be the thesis.

  7. worldtracker. org/media/library/College%20Books/Patterns%20of%20Exposition/Patterns%20of%20Exposition .pdf
    essay starts on page 113

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    posted by Shila
  8. I'm sorry, but I couldn't access it.

    What is the rest of the essay about?

  9. Last Saturday night my girlfriend, Helen, and I went to a dinner party in the Houston suburbs. We did not know
    our hosts, but were invited on account of Helen’s chum Barry, whose birthday party it was. We had barely
    stepped into the house and met the other guests, seated on a U-shaped couch under an A-framed ceiling, when
    Helen lit a cigarette. The hostess froze. “Uh, could you please not smoke in here? If you have to, we’d appreciate
    your using the terrace. We’re both sort of allergic.”
    Helen smiled understandingly and moved toward the glass doors
    leading to the backyard in a typically ladylike way, as though
    merely wanting to get a better look at the garden. But I knew from
    that gracious “Southern” smile of hers that she was miffed. As soon as Helen had stepped outside, the hostess explained that they had just moved into this house, and
    that it had taken weeks to air out because of the previous owner’s tenacious cigar smoke. A paradigmatically
    awkward conversation about tobacco ensued: like testifying sinners, two people came forward with confessions
    about kicking the nasty weed; our scientist-host cited a recent study of indoor air pollution levels; a woman
    lawyer brought up the latest California legislation protecting nonsmokers; a roly-poly real estate agent admitted
    that, though he had given up smokes, he still sat in the smoking section of airplanes because “you meet a more
    interesting type of person there”—a remark his wife did not find amusing. Helen’s friend Barry gallantly joined
    her outside. I did not, as I should have; I felt paralyzed.
    For one thing, I wasn’t sure which side I was on. I have never been a smoker. My parents both chain-smoked,
    so I grew up accustomed to cloudy interiors and ever since have been tolerant of other people’s nicotine urges. To
    be perfectly honest, I’m not crazy about inhaling smoke, particularly when I’ve got a cold, but that irritating
    inconvenience pales beside the damage that would be done to my pluralistic worldview if I did not defend
    smokers’ rights.
    On the other hand, a part of me wished Helen would stop smoking. That part seemed to get a satisfaction out
    of the group’s “banishing” her: they were doing the dirty work of expressing my disapproval.
    As soon as I realized this, I joined her in the garden. Presently a second guest strolled out to share a
    forbidden toke, then a third. Our hostess ultimately had to collect the mutineers with an announcement that
    dinner was served.
    At the table, Helen appeared to be having such a good time, joking with our hosts and everyone else, that I
    was unprepared for the change that came over her as soon as we were alone in the car afterward. “I will never go
    back to that house!” she declared. “Those people have no concept of manners or hospitality, humiliating me the
    moment I stepped in the door. And that phony line about ‘sort of allergic’!” Normally, Helen is forbearance personified. Say anything that touches her about smoking, however, and you
    touch the rawest of nerves. I remembered the last time I foolishly suggested that she “think seriously” about
    stopping. I had just read one of those newspaper articles about the increased possibility of heart attacks, lung
    cancer, and birth deformities among women smokers, and I was worried for her. My concern must have been
    maladroitly expressed, because she burst into tears.
    “Can’t we even talk about this without your getting so sensitive?” I had asked.
    “You don’t understand. Nonsmokers never understand that it is a real addiction. I’ve tried quitting, and it
    was hell. Do you want me to go around for months mean and cranky outside and angry inside? You’re right, I’m
    sensitive, because I’m threatened with having taken away from me the thing that gives me the most pleasure in
    life, day in, day out,” she said. I shot her a look: careful, now. “Well, practically the most pleasure. You know
    what I mean.” I didn’t. But I knew enough to drop it.
    I love Helen, and if she wants to smoke, knowing the risks involved, that remains her choice. Besides, she
    wouldn’t quit just because I wanted her to; she’s not that docile, and that’s part of what I love about her.
    Sometimes I wonder why I even keep thinking about her quitting. What’s it to me personally? Certainly I feel
    protective of her health, but I also have selfish motives. I don’t like the way her lips taste when she’s smoked a
    lot. I associate her smoking with nervousness, and when she lights up several cigarettes in a row, I get jittery
    watching her. Crazy as this may sound, I also find myself becoming jealous of her cigarettes. Occasionally, when
    I go to her house and we’re sitting on the couch together, if I see Helen eyeing the pack I make her kiss me first,
    so that my lips can engage hers (still fresh) before the competition’s. It’s almost as though there were another
    lover in the room—a lover who was around long before I entered the picture, and who pleases her in mysterious
    ways I cannot.
    A lit cigarette puts a distance between us: it’s like a weapon in her hand, awakening in me a primitive fear of
    being burnt. The memory is not so primitive, actually. My father used to smoke absentmindedly, letting the ash
    grow like a caterpillar eating every leaf in its path, until gravity finally toppled it. Once, when I was about nine,
    my father and I were standing in line at a bakery, and he accidentally dropped a lit ash down my back. Ever
    since, I’ve inwardly winced and been on guard around these little waving torches, which epitomize to me the
    dangers of intimacy.
    I’ve worked hard to understand from the outside the satisfaction of smoking. I’ve even smoked
    “sympathetic” cigarettes, just to see what the other person was experiencing. But it’s not the same as being
    hooked. How can I really empathize with the frightened but stubborn look Helen gets in her eyes when, despite
    the fact we’re a little late going somewhere, she turns to me in the car and says, “I need to buy a pack of cigarettes
    first”? I feel a wave of pity for her. We are both embarrassed by this forced recognition of her frailty—the
    “indignity,” as she herself puts it, of being controlled by something outside her will.
    I try to imagine myself in that position, but a certain smugness keeps getting in the way (I don’t have that
    problem and am I glad). We pay a price for our smugness. So often it flip-flops into envy: the outsiders wish to be
    included in the sufferings and highs of others, as if to say that only by relinquishing control and surrendering to
    some dangerous habit, some vice or dependency, would one be able to experience “real life.”
    Over the years I have become a sucker for cigarette romanticism. Few Hollywood gestures move me as much
    as the one in Now Voyager, when Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes, one for himself, the other for Bette Davis:
    these form a beautiful fatalistic bridge between them, a complicitous understanding like the realization that their
    love is based on the inevitability of separation. I am all the more admiring of this worldly cigarette gallantry
    because its experiential basis escapes me.
    The same sort of fascination occurs when I come across a literary description of nicotine addiction, like this
    passage in Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance: “Over and over again I gave them up, a hundred times over the
    years, but I always went back. For in my dreams, sooner or later, I struck a match, brought flame to the tip, then
    took in all my hunger for existence with the first puff. I felt impaled on desire itself—those fiends trapped in my
    chest and screaming for one drag.” “Impaled on desire itself”! Such writing evokes a longing in me for the centering of self that tobacco seems to
    bestow on its faithful. Clearly, there is something attractive about having this umbilical relation to the universe—
    this curling pillar, this spiral staircase, this prayer of smoke that mediates between the smoker’s inner substance
    and the alien ether. Inwardness of the nicotine trance, sad wisdom (“every pleasure has its price”), beauty of
    ritual, squandered health—all those romantic meanings we read into the famous photographic icons of fifties
    saints, Albert Camus or James Agee or James Dean or Carson McCullers puffing away, in a sense they’re true.
    Like all people who return from a brush with death, smokers have gained a certain power. They know their
    “coffin nails.” With Helen, each cigarette is a measuring of the perishable, an enactment of her mortality, from
    filter to end-tip in fewer than five minutes. I could not stand to be reminded of my own death so often.

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    posted by Shila
  10. answer asap

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    posted by Shila
  11. Thanks. Reading . . .

  12. kk

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    posted by Shila
  13. The thesis is that there are pros and cons to smoking, but this author finds more against it.

    Note that this essay was written more than 15 years ago when smoking was still allowed on planes.

  14. so what do i write for the thesis? and whats the tone?

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    posted by Shila
  15. I didn't find any one sentence that I can identify as the thesis.

    I told you what I think the thesis is.

    I think the tone is one of despair.

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