Read the following instructions about Big Ideas and Themes:
A theme is a thought or idea the author presents to the reader that may be deep or difficult to understand. Themes are the underlying meanings of a story, universal truths or significant statements the author makes about society, human nature, life or living. Often the themes are closely tied to the changes the main characters are undergoing. Themes do not have to be morals or rules about how to live; they can simply be observations about the true nature of life and living.
Themes must be distinguished from big ideas. Big ideas are large, abstract topics that a story may cover. For example, “friendship” may be a big idea in a story. However, to say that a novel’s theme is “friendship” is not clear. You must determine the big ideas in a text before you can determine the themes.
The theme statement is the sentence expressing the specific observation the author is making about the true nature of friendship. For example, the themes may be, “Friends are a person’s most valuable possession,” or “Friends can never be trusted if their own interests are opposed to yours.” Theme statements should be specific and complete sentences. However, theme statements should not include the names of characters or specific events from the text. The characters and events make up your evidence. Theme statements should begin with the sentence starter, “In the text, the author reveals…”
When you are trying to find the themes of piece of writing, you should follow these steps:
1. Make a list of the “big ideas” that are in the text.
2. For each “big idea,” make a list of all of the important details from the novel that relate to that idea.
3. Determine what specific messages about the big ideas the author is sending to the readers through the characters and events.
4. Support the themes with specific evidence from the text.
Complete the Theme Analysis Summary worksheet from the class binder.
Complete the Theme Analysis worksheet from the class binder.