How theme develops over the course of the story

How theme develops over the course of the story

I can analyze how the theme of a story develops over the course of the text.

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How theme develops over the course of the story

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Students practice analyzing stories to infer the theme. They will read two short stories in this lesson: Kate Chopin's "A Pair of Silk Stockings" and Jack London's "To Build a Fire." The lesson guides them through the process of analyzing the characters and plot to determine the theme.


CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.6.2; CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.7.2; CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.8.2

Learning objective

Students will be able to analyze a story to identify the theme and explain how it is developed throughout the story.


Begin by explaining what a theme is and compare it to a thread in a woven tapestry. Explain that the theme is the common 'thread' throughout the story, of the important message that the writer wants to convey to the reader.


Provide some examples of different themes, then explain the difference between a theme and a moral or lesson to ensure that students don't confuse the two. Go over the steps needed to analyze a developing theme in a story. Explain that a plot chart can help review the events in a story and keep track of the specific details that make up the overarching theme.

After this, read Kate Chopin's short story, "A Pair of Silk Stockings." Together, model with students how to use a plot diagram to review important events. Then go through the story and analyze the character and the changes she goes through to determine the theme. Have students identify the "common thread" of the story.


Students respond to 10 questions in which they review key concepts and apply learning to the short story "A Pair of Silk Stockings" as read in the lesson.


To close the lesson, students read Jack London's "To Build a Fire." You may choose to have them work independently or in pairs or groups this time. They will follow the same steps to determine the theme of this story. A printable worksheet is provided for students to use as a study guide where they can take notes as they go along.

Read our blog post to learn more about reading comprehension exercises!

Instruction materials

Printable worksheet

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