What are the themes in the book Echo Under Story, which was written by Katherine Silver?

Determining theme is significantly different than listing single word topics like “Love”, “Relationships” or “Happiness”. Apply the “The author believes that…” strategy to construct a thoughtful, relevant thematic statement that rises above a single word and instead reflects a consistent concept throughout the novel.

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Considering theme, one often begins to think of single words statements such as “Love”, “Family” or “Friendship”. However, these are not themes, they are topics. A theme should never be a single word, but rather an overarching statement about a text as a whole. Here is the strategy I provide...

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Considering theme, one often begins to think of single words statements such as “Love”, “Family” or “Friendship”. However, these are not themes, they are topics. A theme should never be a single word, but rather an overarching statement about a text as a whole. Here is the strategy I provide to students in my English classes.

Begin by listing all of the possible one-word topics that apply to the novel. For example, I will use the classic and well-known text, To Kill a Mockingbird. Some common topics addressed throughout the novel are “Racism”, “Perspective”, “Bravery”, “Injustice”, “Family” and “Radicalism”. There is no limit to how many topics there may be, and thinking of several will help you to narrow down a precise theme that applies to the whole of the text you are analyzing. Once you have all of your one-word topics, select the one that you believe applies most accurately and consistently throughout the novel.

The next step is the simplest. Write out the sentence starter “The author believes that…” and consider, based on the events in the novel, character actions, and any underlying emotion, what the author truly wants you to believe about that topic in his or her work. You can write several ends to that sentence in order to refine exactly what the theme is. In our example, I would choose the topic “Bravery”. Ultimately, the author (Harper Lee) believes that bravery can be displayed simply by opposing common belief. There are several pieces of evidence in the text to support this, most notably Atticus Finch’s defense of Tom Robinson. After crafting your thematic statement, eliminate the text “The author believes that…” to determine the theme. In this case, I would have said that a theme in To Kill a Mockingbird is that bravery can be displayed simply by opposing common belief. Applying this strategy to Echo Under Story should help to efficiently and effectively determine a theme, as well as identify any relevant textual evidence.

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