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					Writing Groups
• Has the writer identified a specific symbol
  or group of symbols to analyze?
• Is there a clear discussion of the literal
  role of the symbol(s) in the text?
• Is there a larger association for the
  symbol (meaning) that is supported by a
  discussion of the text?
• Does the writer connect the symbol’s
  meaning to an interpretation of the
  story?
• When you finish…read the short story you
  picked up when you came in.
Theme
AP Literature & Composition
Short Story Boot Camp
Northrop Frye
• “educated imagination”
  – Where skills and knowledge
    meet creativity
    • Close reading practice, study
      of elements of fiction = skills &
      knowledge;
• Your theme…your
  interpretation
  – Don’t wander from the text
“First Day”
• Plot
  – Uneducated mother takes her
    daughter to the first day of
    kindergarten.
  – They are refused at one school and
    must go to another
  – A kind person helps the mother
    complete the forms
  – The mother leaves the child at school,
    telling her to pay close attention to
    the teacher
Thematic issues in the plot
• Why would a mother who
  cannot read do her
  utmost, facing obstacle
  after obstacle, to get her
  child into school?
• Is it possible that the
  people who truly
  understand the
  importance of education
  are the ones who haven’t
  had the benefit of one?
Character and Theme
• Who are the characters?
• How does the daughter
  develop and change?
• First day of what?
• Look at the roles in the
  story—major and minor.
  What’s happening among
  the characters?
• Role of community in
  raising children.
Setting and Theme
• Poor neighborhood in
  Washington, D.C.
• Details of the “preferred”
  school
  – Is the church important?
  – “rock”
  – How does the setting reveal
    Mom’s anxiety about leaving
    her daughter?
  – Back to the role of
    community?
Point of View and Theme
• Daughter is narrator
  recalling the incident.
  – “long before [she] learned to
    be ashamed of [her]
    mother.”
  – Look at this in the context of
    the story’s focus on
    education.
  – Does she seem “ashamed”?
  – What does this reveal?
     • Changing perspective
Symbols
• Shoes
  – “my greatest joy”
  – “when one is nicked at the
    toe…my heart will break.”
  – Relationship with Mom?
  – The change breaks her
    heart…letting go
Articulating Theme
• Subject and theme are not the same
   – Theme should be a complete statement or two
     detailing what the work says/reveals about the
     subject.
• Avoid clichés
   – Lazy; ignores the complexity
• Pay attention to contradictions
   – Shame vs. pride
• A Theme is not a moral
   – Theme is indirect
• Literary works almost always have more than one!
• Themes can be questions
   – Moral dilemma
   – Conundrum
       • Why must parenting always involve loss?
       • When do children appreciate and understand their
         parents?
“Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid
• Pg. 719
• Try to articulate at least
  three possible themes.
• Consider
  –   Plot
  –   Character
  –   Point of View
  –   Setting
  –   Symbols
Sources
Jago, Carol, et al. Literature
and Composition: Reading,
Writing, Thinking. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martin, 2011.

				
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posted:10/19/2012
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