Theme (theem): a common thread or repeated idea that is incorporated throughout a literary work. A theme is a thought or idea the author presents to the reader that may be deep, difficult to understand, or even moralistic.
In general, a theme is a message the author wants you to understand as a reader. Identifying an author’s themes lets you know what arguments the author is trying to make as well.
Common themes are good vs. evil, human nature, religion, social structure, authority, coming-of-age, human rights, feminism, racism, war, education, sex, friendship, love, compassion, and death. Most books deal with multiple themes, some more obvious than others. It gives you a general topic. However, these themes are general. You, as a reader, have to dig a little deeper to identify the author’s specific theme or argument.
As a reader, you can take a look at the context, setting, literary devices, and characters an author uses to analyze how an author develops or supports their argument/theme. Context, setting, literary devices, and characters are all tools to an author, and work together to leave readers with a developed or supported argument.
As we progress through The Great Gatsby, we will look at each of the above items to:
1. Help us identify Fitzgerald's argument.
2. Help us analyze how Fitzgerald develops this argument.
As you read chapter two in the assignment to follow, try to focus on what the central argument Fitzgerald is trying to make so far with his novel. The questions that will be asked are to get you to think about this.