Theme Theme is: • The central, underlying, and controlling idea or insight of a work of literature. • In a fable, the theme is the moral. • In a parable, the theme is a teaching. • In fiction and nonfiction, the theme is a view about life and how people behave.
Identifying Theme Identifying the Theme To identify the theme, be sure that you’ve first identified the story’s plot, the way the story uses characterization, and the primary conflict in the story. Use these steps to determine the theme for a work: 1. Summarize the plot: Identify the exposition, the conflict, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution (or Somebody Wanted to But So) 2. Identify the protagonist or main character. 3. Identify the insight or truth that was learned about the subject. • How did the protagonist change? • What lesson did the protagonist learn from the resolution of the conflict?
Common Themes • Culture: Values, Beliefs, and Rituals • Conflict and Change • Social Justice • Decisions, Actions, and Consequences • Utopia and Dystopia • Identity • Freedom and Responsibility • Good vs. Evil • Relationships • Survival • Courage • Childhood • Growing Up And many, many more . . .
The Ant and the Grasshopper In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest. "Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?" "I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same." "Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper. “We have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew: It is best to prepare for the days of necessity. • Source: http://www.knowledgerush.com/books/aesopa10.html
The Ant and the Grasshopper • Use the steps to determine the theme. • How does this theme relate to the real-world? Now You Try . . . • Read the two Aesop’s fables. • Use the steps to determine the theme of each fable. • What place do those themes have in modern society?
Read the following. Identify the theme in each. The Fox and the Grapes The Wind and the Sun The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the Sun said: "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin." So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveler wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on. Kindness effects more than severity. One hot summer's day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch. "Just the thing to quench my thirst," quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: "I am sure they are sour." It is easy to despise what you cannot get.
Tasks Block 1 Block 2-4 Read “Gombei and the Wild Ducks” Identify the stages of plot Identify how the character changes. Determine and write the theme. • Read “The Dustman and the Cadi” • Identify the stages of the plot. • Identify how the character changes. • Determine and write the theme.
Gombei and the Wild Ducks • Gombei decides to trap 100 ducks so that he doesn’t have to work, but they begin to pull him into the air. He turns into a duck and is trapped. He realizes the error of his ways, transforms back to a human and changes the way he lives. • Gombei and the wild ducks • Gombei changes from greedy to compassionate • Freedom is a great and joyous gift (stated) • Treat others the way you would want to be treated (implied)
Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People and Warby Yukio Tsuchiya • What political or social themes exist in the story? • What words and phrases helped to reveal the theme? • Are the themes stated or implied? • What words and phrases helped to reveal the character’s feelings toward the particular theme? • What did the author do to help convey the theme (illustrations, dialogue, simple sentences, the use of literary techniques, etc.)? • What historical event connects with the text? What are the connections? • Reflect on the story we just read. What are your thoughts? What are your emotions? Do you think the theme is still relevant today? If yes, can you give examples?
Background Information • Hiroshima: the first city destroyed by a nuclear weapon • On August 6, 1945, the Japanese city of Hiroshima was destroyed by a nuclear weapon, an atomic bomb dropped by the United States. Three days later, a second atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki; five days after that, Japan unconditionally surrendered to the United States, bringing an end to World War II. • The atomic bombs killed several hundred thousand people, many instantly in the nuclear fire, many later with burns, injuries and radiation sickness, and still many others, over the years, with cancers and birth defects. These deaths continue to this day. Like most of the cities bombed in World War II, the majority of the inhabitants were women, children and the elderly. • Before the war began, bombing cities was considered an act of total barbarism; there were no “conventional bombs” and it certainly was not considered “conventional” to target civilian populations for mass destruction. But this ideal was shattered early in the war, and eventually all sides engaged in mass bombing raids against cities and civilians. • After the Nazis conducted their massive bombing raids against London, the British retaliated by developing incendiary bombs, fire-bombs designed to burn down cities. British and American bombers dropped these bombs on 5 German cities, killing hundreds of thousands of German civilians in Hamburg, Dresden, Kassel, Darmstadt, and Stuttgart. In March, 1945, the U.S. fire-bombed the city of Tokyo, killing at least 100,000 people. • By the time the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, 50 million people had already died in World War II. The bombing/murder of civilian populations had occurred so many times that it was no longer even regarded as unusual. I believe this is perhaps the greatest tragedy of the war, and it set the stage for the Cold War and the nuclear arms race that followed. • When you view these images of Hiroshima, remember that there is a good chance that a nuclear weapon may now be targeted on your own city and home. And consider that modern nuclear weapons are generally 8 to 50 times more powerful than the first atomic bombs that destroyed the Japanese cities.
Here’s Your Task … Working with your group, you are going to answer the following questions: • What political or social themes exist in the story? • What words and phrases helped to reveal the theme? • Are the themes stated or implied? • What words and phrases helped to reveal the character’s feelings toward the particular theme? • What did the author do to help convey the theme (illustrations, dialogue, simple sentences, the use of literary techniques, repetition, rhyme, rhythm, etc.)? • What historical event connects with the text? What are the connections? • Reflect on the story we just read. What are your thoughts? What are your emotions? Do you think the theme is still relevant today? If yes, can you give examples? Once you have answered these questions to the best of your ability, you are going to create a visual that will display all of your answers (in an abrreviated form). Your poster board should be neat, free of spelling and/or grammar mistakes, and should be colorful and aesthetically pleasing.