Getting to Know Yourself and Others

Understanding Theme and Moral


  • Controlling idea or central insight of a story.

  • Broad idea, message, or lesson that the author is trying to get across to the reader. The message could touch on topics dealing with life, society, or human nature.

  • The theme of a piece of fiction is its view about life and how people behave.

  • Theme is not presented directly. It can be found from the characters, actions, and setting that make up the story.

Tips on Finding Theme

  • Title: Read the title because sometimes it tells you a lot about the theme. (For example, a story with the title “Growing up in Toronto” gives you a pretty good idea about the theme of the story!)

  • Patterns and Symbols: Be aware of the repetition and symbols because these sometimes lead to the theme

  • Allusions: An allusion is an indirect reference to something. (For example, in the Harry Potter novels, we know that people are referring to Lord Voldemort, even if they only mention the name “You Know Who” or refer to him as “He".)

  • Details and Particulars: Do they have a greater meaning? For example, if the main character only wears black, might that mean something?