Theme:      Life lesson, meaning, moral, or message about life or human nature that is   

                  communicated by a literary work.  A theme is not a word, it is a sentence.

                  You don’t have to agree with the theme to identify it.



Examples:  Money can’t buy happiness.

Don’t judge people based on the surface.  

It is better to die free than live under tyranny



Directions:  Read the following passage and identify the theme of each short story below. 


Passage 1


In his sophomore year of high school, Michael Jordan tried out for the varsity basketball team at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina.  But at five feet and eleven inches tall, the coach believed that Jordan was too short to play at that level, so Jordan was cut from the team.  Jordan didn’t let this obstacle defeat him.  In fact, it pushed him to work even harder.  He trained vigorously and grew another four inches the following summer.  When he finally made the varsity squad, Jordan averaged 25 points a game and went on to become one of the greatest basketball players in history. 


What is the theme of the story?

What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?


Passage 2


1.  Katie Clean invited Messy Missy to her house to work on their biology project, but Katie Clean had no idea what a visit from Messy Missy entailed.  First of all, it was raining and Messy Missy neither bothered to take her boots off nor thoroughly wiped them on the doormat.  Then Messy Missy ate a bag of hot chips on Katie Clean’s white bedspread without asking, and Messy Missy is a sloppy eater, so hot chip powder got all over the bedspread.  Katie Clean tried to be polite and ignore Messy Missy’s sloppy behavior, but then Messy Missy threw her chip wrapper on the floor.   Offended, Katie Clean pretended that she was sick and asked Messy Missy to leave.  The next day Katie Clean asked the teacher if she could work by herself.  After explaining her situation, the teacher allowed Katie to work alone.  Messy Missy would have finished the assignment by herself, but she spilled grape soda all over her assignment.


1.  What is the theme of the story?


2. What happens in the story that leads you to believe this?



Passage 3

Tammy and Sammy were both students in Mr. Morton’s reading class.  Mr. Morton wasn’t too strict about deadlines, and Sammy took advantage of that.  He did all of his homework in his other classes but never bothered to complete Mr. Morton’s reading assignments, figuring that he could complete them later.  Tammy, on the other hand, completed each assignment Mr. Morton assigned the night that he assigned it.  She had to stay up a little later, but she didn’t want to get a penalty for turning in her reading work late.  Tammy knew reading was a core subject and that she had to keep “C” average for the entire year or she would have to go to summer school.  When the end of the quarter came, Tammy and Sammy had both planned on going to the Enchanted Castle amusement park, but Mr. Morton called Sammy’s mother, and she grounded Sammy until he turned in all of his work.  That weekend was horrible for Sammy.  He stayed up until 2:00 AM each night and still couldn’t complete all of the assignments.  The whole while, Tammy had a great time eating pizza at Enchanted Castle, watching movies late at night, and enjoying her weekend free of stress and pressure.  At the end of the quarter, Sammy was lucky to squeak by with a “C” minus in reading while Tammy earned an “A.”  Sammy still hasn’t learned his lesson and probably won’t complete this activity either.


What is the theme of the story?