For scholars, the hardest aspect of literary analysis is the discening of theme. To interpret the nebulous meaning of a work of literature can be a frustrating and stymieing task. It's hard to know where to begin when teacher asks, "Now, what is this author SAYING to us?"
Most often the scholars will resort to a simple moral of the story, lesson, or instruction, relying on their grade school Aesop lesson to attach meaning to the material. It can be aggravating for the teacher, then, to hear such things as "Never take your wife on safari" in response to an intricate Hemingway story. Well, no longer!
This packet of three handouts emphasizes a "theme equation" that leads the scholars to find the theme statement of universal truth in the material (i.e. the observation that the author is making about life or humanity).
It focuses on the equation: "life topic + author's view = theme."
The first page walks the scholar through the process of using the equation, the second page has a "theme cloud" of life topics that the scholar will use to find said theme, and the third page is a worksheet to apply to whatever material is at hand.
It's simple and it works. Here are some examples of themes that 7th grade scholars formulated on their own from various stories:
A truly good person puts others before themselves, no matter the circumstances.
If you were not in a war when it ends, it's over. If you were in a war, when it ends, it's never over.
Sometimes the small victories count the most.
Fear can bring out an odd side in people.
One can hope for something with all one's heart, but that hope may never be fulfilled.
Consequences of bad choices surface eventually.
People may go to the extreme to find a place they can belong.
Friendship is bonded by trust.
Even small things can be a turning point.
If the truth is worth telling, it's worth making a fool of yourself to tell.
These themes came unaided from the minds of seventh graders who were trained to find the universal truth in their literature using the Theme Equation.
Just think what your scholars will come up with!