AP Lit Chapter 4 Notes: Theme

Topic: EntertainmentGames
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Last updated: May 4, 2019
Theme
A piece of fiction is its controlling idea or its central insight. To determine, just ask the texts general purpose.

Themes only exist when
1. The author has seriously attempted to record accurately or to reveal a truth about it.2. The author has deliberately introduced as a unifying element about life that the author illuminates.

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Rich Stories
May give us many and complex insights into life.

Abstract Statements
Cannot sum up stories and leave out the greater importance.

Authors Purpose
Is to give insights into human or worldly nature and also to explore the readers emotions, senses, and imaginations.

Story Writers
Intend to reveal life, not to compliment it.

Implied Themes
Are much better not explained or explicitly written out.

Moral vs. Theme
Moral is much more a preaching purpose, while theme is more enjoyable. Thematic writing prevents all literature from being a didactic pronouncement of life.

Moralizing leads to oversimplifying and conventionalizing.

Literary Fictions Purpose
To expand life’s perception, and not to create moral codes for society. Think of a story as revealing, and not teaching.

Commercial Themes
Represent life as what we want it to be, and not how it is.

POV
Reading literary fictions even with themes that you don’t agree with can show how others see things.

Stating a Theme
It may be difficult to put all of the ideas and reveals about theme into words. Putting them into words can reveal aspects of the story once not open to us. The ability shows understanding of the story.

Many do not find out the whole point of a fiction.

1. Theme must be expressible in a statement withe a subject and a predicate.
Theme must be a statement about the subject.

2. Theme should be a generalization about life.
Do not use names of characters or refer to precise places or events. This will make it specific, and not general.

3. Be careful to make larger generalizations than is justified.
Terms like all, and always should be used carefully. Use may, can and not will and must.

Stories may occasionally be universal.

4. Theme is the central and unifying concept of a story.
(a) It accounts for all major details. (b) The theme cannot be contradicted by any detail of the story. (c) Theme cannot rely on supposed facts–facts not actually stated or clearly implied.

5. There is not one way of stating the theme.

It is not a guessing game. It presents a view of life, and it can be stated in more than one way.

6. Avoid any statement that reduces the theme to some familiar saying we hear all our lives.
The theme cannot be simplified in a lazy shortcut such as “You can’t judge a book by its cover”. If only saying are pushed into new texts, the perception is often missed. Avoid cliches.

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