Chapter 8 Theme

Be sure to distinguish between your typical understanding of a story’s themes, plural, and a story’s theme, singular, the overall meaning of the text. As the book points out, you won’t be able to capture the entire complexity of the work in the one sentence, but you can articulate a meaningful interpretation that encompasses the whole story. The theme itself can work as your entire thesis as theme is a full sentence with a narrowed topic and a controlling idea. The narrowed topic will be the primary subject of the work. What the book calls “subjects” is very much like the elements you usually associate with themes, plural. Some texts call them sub themes. They include general subjects of importance that writers often use for their works. Notice the quote at the beginning of the chapter by Herman Melville: “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme.” Some of the sub-themes of Moby Dick include revenge, authority, gender, race, etc. However, many would choose revenge as the central subject of the book. After choosing the central subject of the book, you must then choose the next part of your thematic sentence, the controlling idea. When articulating that, ask yourself what it is you think the author may be saying about the narrowed topic, just like we do when we are typically establishing our thesis statements. It may also help to further narrow your topic. For instance, the book offers a possible interpretation of theme for Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home,” and the central subject that was narrowed to was “war.” That was narrowed further to “The brutal experience of war.” After that the question of what about the brutal experiences of war in this story is answered. The theme ends up looking like this “The brutal experiences of war can alienate a person from those – even family and friends – who are innocent of war’s realities.” For Moby Dick, it could be something like “Taking revenge can lead someone to destroying themselves instead of the target intended.” Read the chapter carefully, especially the list of pointers provided, and use the method we have been using to establish the thesis statement, just like I did above, to establish a theme for one of the stories assigned for the chapter this time. Choose a quote as evidence and do it just like any other discussion board. The response post can offer a competing theme or add more evidence to the original post’s interpretation

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