The teaching of "theme" in prose literature
Murphy, Thomas Joseph
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The purpose of this study is twofold: to review current professional opinion regarding the teaching of theme in prose literature in the secondary school today; and to construct a four-week unit for use in the teaching of theme in the eleventh grade. The writer hopes to indicate through this study the recommendations of the authorities in the field of language arts concerning procedures of developing skills and understandings necessary to discern theme in prose literature. In order to develop a deeper appreciation of prose literature, pupils must increase their awa reness of the levels of meaning in literature and, through practice, their skill in relating plot, character and detail to theme. The work done in the field of teaching theme in prose literature is often only a part of a broader study of fiction. Few units have been built around the levels of meaning in prose literature. In trying the unit approach, the writer hopes to bring to the attention of teachers of the language arts the advantages of using units on theme in prose literature. The unit should be of practical help. This study is limited to the teaching of theme in short stories and novels. The review of professional literature is concerned with current recommendations of the authorities. The unit is designed for the eleventh grade but has not been tested. It can be evaluated properly only when it is used in an actual classroom. The unit developed is a specific study of theme in short stories and novels. Fifteen short stories and the novel The Old Man and the Sea were selected for examination because their themes were appropriate and interesting for pupils in grade eleven. The use of details to determine theme is stressed. The unit is planned for twenty fifty-minute periods.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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