2 What is a Theme?Theme: Life lesson, meaning, moral, or message about life or human nature that is communicated by a literary work. In other words… Theme is the general, underlying truth of a text.
3 ThemesA theme is not a word, it is a sentence. You don’t have to agree with the theme to identify it. Examples - Money can’t buy happiness. - Don’t judge people based on the surface. - It is better to die free than live under tyranny.
4 Identifying ThemesThemes are not explicit (clearly stated). Themes are implied. Themes develop over the course of a story, play, and poem. Themes are bigger than the text.Big World of the Theme.Applies to the “Real” World.SmallWorldof theText
5 Got it—themes are about the big picture Got it—themes are about the big picture. How do I move from the small world of the story to the big picture to construct and analyze a relevant statement of theme, though?
6 Step 1: Start by identifying thematic topics a text explores. Let’s think back to “My Papa’s Waltz”The whiskey on your breathCould make a small boy dizzy;But I hung on like death:Such waltzing was not easyWe romped until the pansSlid from the kitchen shelf;My mother’s countenanceCould not unfrown itself.The hand that held my wristWas battered on one knuckle;At every step you missedMy right ear scraped a buckle.You beat time on my headWith a palm caked hard by dirt,Then waltzed me off to bedStill clinging to your shirt.Thematic Topics:Dominance / Abuse / Love / Pain / Resilience / Etc…
7 Step 2: Ask yourself, what universal truth does the text convey about this thematic topic? The complete-sentence answer to that question leads you to theme.Example:Thematic topic: PainQuestion: What universal truth does “My Papa’s Waltz” convey about Pain?Answer (THEME!): Pain can come from the people who are supposed to protect you.Theme check:Does this statement of theme make a point about life, written in a complete sentence?Do I need to make inferences about “My Papa’s Waltz” as a whole to arrive at this theme?Does this theme focus on the BIG picture?
8 Dominance/ Abuse / Love / Pain / Resilience… Step 1 & 2: Now you try.Dominance/ Abuse / Love / Pain / Resilience…In your groups, choose a different thematic topic for “My Papa’s Waltz” and write down a theme. We will share and workshop our thematic statements in 10 minutes.Remember the following:Thematic topic:Question: What universal truth does “My Papa’s Waltz” convey about this idea?Answer (THEME!):Theme check (answer each question for your statement of theme):Does this statement of theme make a point about life, written in a complete sentence? Why?Do I need to make inferences about “My Papa’s Waltz”as a whole to arrive at this theme? How?Does this theme focus on the BIG picture? Why?