I noticed that theme is often confused with and stated as a topic, example: family relationships. Theme is not a topic, theme is what the author wants you to think about or to understand. It is the underlying meaning of the work and is often implied, rarely directly stated. It is a generalization about life, or an observation about the world.
To figure out the theme, first look at the topics that emerge in the story. Some of the topics in Sonny's Blues include drug use, family relationships, self-destructive behavior, and hope for redemption. Because a work can have multiple themes, these topics can be combined, or taken individually to write a theme. After you have noticed the topics that emerge, ask yourself, what is the underlying message or meaning about this topic and what evidence leads you to this conclusion. Use these together to write your thesis statement.
Some examples my students have come up with for Sonny's Blues include:
- While family relationships are often filled...
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