Lesson Plan

Analyzing Theme in Fictional Texts


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Big Ideas




This lesson will build on students’ experience in identifying how different elements work together to develop the theme. Students will:

  • identify the theme of a fiction text.
  • explain how theme is developed through literary elements.

Essential Questions

  • How do strategic readers create meaning from informational and literary text?
  • What is this text really about?
  • How does interaction with text provoke thinking and response?


  • Characterization: The method an author uses to reveal characters and their various personalities.
  • Dialogue: In its widest sense, dialogue is simply conversation between people in a literary work; in its most restricted sense, it refers specifically to the speech of characters in a drama.
  • Theme: A topic of discussion or writing; a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work.
  • Moral: The lesson in a story.


60–120 minutes/1–2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills


“The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs is a commonly anthologized short story of high interest and suspense that uses several techniques readers may use to infer theme.

  • Alternatives include excerpts from Animal Farm by George Orwell and short stories such as “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe, and “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.
  • Teachers may substitute other texts to provide a range of reading and level of text complexity.

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Successfully navigating through this lesson will ensure students' understanding of theme and the ability to identify it in more difficult works.

Posted more than a year ago
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