The overall message a story puts forth is referred to as the theme. All stories have one or multiple themes. The theme can give a solid understanding of how the characters interact and how their decisions influence their individual traits. Writers will often elude to the theme repeated times throughout the body of the story. Major themes are those messages that are given off multiple times throughout the story. There can also be minor themes that are only a select time in the story.
When you are working on this and focusing on determining the theme of any passage start by understanding the setting of the story and the things that were taking place at the time in history. If it is a fictional story focus on character’s mindset as well. That can often lead you in the right direction. The next move is to relate to the protagonist of the story, what do you think their goal is? Is there any level of conflict or situations that would lead you to make other decisions? The last step is to look at the resolution of the story. Who wins and who loses?