Understanding the overall theme of a body of work takes time and is not always an easy experience.

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?

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Printable Identifying the Theme of a Story Worksheets

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Main Theme

What is the main theme of the story?

Determining Theme

In this assignment, you will read a short story and determine the theme.

Title of Book

Find three quotes that illustrate each theme of the story.

Common Themes

Remember, a topic is not the same as a theme. Friendship is a topic. Real friendship lasts forever is theme. Follow the example.

Identifying Theme

Read the story. Identify the theme. Then say what happens in the story that tells you that this is the theme. Remember, a topic is not the same as a theme. A theme takes a position on a topic.

Theme Worksheet

The theme of a story is the message that an author wants to convey through the story. Remember, a topic is not the same as a theme. A theme takes a position on a topic.

Identify the Theme

Read the story. Identify the theme. Then say how the theme is developed in the story.

Theme Worksheet

The theme of a story is the message that an author wants to convey through the story.

The Fox and the Chickens

Read the story. Identify the theme. Then say how the theme is developed in the story.

Recurring Theme

The theme of a story is the message that an author wants to convey through the story. A recurring theme is a message that occurs in more than one literary work.

How Theme is Developed

Read the assigned text. Fill out the graphic organizer below to help you understand how the theme is developed through each of the identified story elements.

What's the Theme?

Read the story. Identify the theme. Then say how the theme is developed in the story.

Universal Themes

A universal theme is a concept that everyone can relate to. Because it has to do with what it means to be human, universal theme transcends gender, culture, and geographical differences.

Expressing Theme

Some of the lines below are single-sentence summaries of stories. Some are expression of theme. Can you tell the difference?

Icarus and Daedalus

Read the story. Identify the theme. Then say what happens in the story that tells you that this is the theme. Remember, a topic is not the same as a theme. A theme takes a position on a topic.