Themes and quotes

Writing final reports & themes

13 Most Common Themes in Fiction

With your classmates, think of example movies or novels for each of the following themes. Be prepared to share and discuss these examples with the class.

  1. Humans struggle against nature
  2. Man or woman struggles against societal pressure
  3. Man or woman struggles to understand divinity
  4. Crime does not pay
  5. Overcoming adversity
  6. Friendship is dependent on sacrifice
  7. The importance of family
  8. Yin and yang (opposites balance each other)
  9. Love is the worthiest of pursuits
  10. Death is part of the life cycle
  11. Sacrifices bring reward
  12. Human beings all have the same needs
  13. (add your own idea)

Adapted from John Howrey

Identifying Themes

Writing about the main themes and “Briefly describe what you learnt from the book”; this will be more important next semester, so this is a kind of practice for it. Use quotes to support your ideas.

Make a mind map to help you. Example:

Themes and quotes mind map, by Andrew Blyth 2016.

Themes and quotes mind map, by Andrew Blyth 2016.

  1. Use the 13 common themes in literature to identify the main themes
  2. Think carefully and identify your own sub-themes
  3. Find examples, and list the page numbers

Here is p7 from Different Worlds.

Graded Reader - Different Worlds, by Margaret Johnson, p6 extract

Graded Reader – Different Worlds, by Margaret Johnson, p7 extract

For example with the novel Different Worlds by Margaret Johnson:

The story Different Worlds shows many struggles people have in our lives. For instance, the main character, Sam, is deaf, but her mother and eventual boyfriend love music, and she listens to their music. It says “When I was a little girl, I liked to put my small hand on the front of Mum’s guitar while she played it. My hand moved a little because of the music. … She was happy that I could feel the vibration of her music when I put my hand on her guitar” (p.6). This tells us that life is not simple, but we can be happy living with difficult situations.

There are four parts to this paragraph:

  1. Introduce the theme (eg: #1 Humans struggle against nature)
  2. Explain the theme.
  3. Give evidence the theme is real (quote from the book, maximum 50 words)
  4. Interpretation (why it is important)

Rules of quoting > Very important

  1. Start with source (eg: The author writes / It says / Sam’s mother says / …)
  2. Comma
  3. “Open quotation
  4. Quote (exact words, long quotes can be made short. Cut bits out by replacing them with three dots).
  5. Close quotation”.
  6. Page number in parenthesis ( ).
  7. Period / full stop.


The author writes, “blah blah blah blah blah blah” (p.54).
Sam’s mother says, “Life’s short, so choose to be happy” (p.8).
Ron said to Sam, “blah blah blah blah blah blah” (p.61).
Sam said to Andrew, “blah blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah blah blah. … Blah blah blah blah blah blah” (p.62).