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Kennedy, X.J., and Dana Gioia. “Theme.” Literature: an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing, Pearson, 2016. Plot versus Theme   The theme of a story is whatever general idea or insight the entire story reveals.  A summary, a brief condensation of the main idea or plot of a literary work, may be helpful, but it tends to focus on the surface events of a story.  A theme aims for a deeper and more comprehensive statement of its larger meaning.  For the meaning, we must look to other elements in the story besides what happens in it.  Great short stories, like great symphonies, frequently have more than one theme. Summarizing the Theme   In many a fine short story, theme is the center, the moving force, the principle of unity. Clearly, such a theme is something other than the characters or plot of a story.  Sometimes you will hear it said that the theme of a story is “loss of innocence” or “the revolt of the downtrodden.” Although such general descriptions of theme in a short phrase can be useful, we suggest that you work to become more specific.  Try to sum the theme up in a short sentence that gives a fuller and more vivid sense of whatever truth or insight you think the story reveals. Crafting that sentence, you will find yourself looking closely at the story as you attempt to define its principal meaning. Finding the Theme   Look back at the title of the story. From what you have read, what does it indicate? ...
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