# Literary Analysis Tool: Character and Theme

Summary

This pair of graphic organizers is intended to scaffold students through the process of tracing and summarizing the development of theme and/or character in a literary text of any length. It asks students to locate and cite text-based evidence as they read and make a claim about theme and/or character development at the end of their reading. This tool was created for any students in grades 6-12, while the instructional protocols and/or text itself can be selected to meet the learning needs of diverse populations.

Learning Objectives

• Students will be able to successfully identify and explain the development of theme in a literary text.
• Students will be able to successfully identify and explain the development of character in a literary text.
• Students will be able to support their claims regarding theme and character development in a literary text with evidence from the text.

Background for Teachers

Character Development: how a character grows and changes throughout a literary text as a result of actions, interactions, dialogue, and experiences.

Students will use the resource to trace the development of a character. In each chapter/section of a literary text, the author works to develop the character through his or her actions, interactions, dialogue, and experiences. Students will identify quotations or experiences, through direct and indirect characterization techniques employed by the author, that will help them to trace the development of the character.

Theme: is the life lesson or the message about human nature the author conveys in the text

Students will use the resource to trace the development of a theme. In each chapter/section of a literary text, the author works to develop the theme through character actions, interactions, dialogue, and plot. Students will identify details or “wise words” that will help them to trace the development of the theme. "Wise words" refer to dialogue and interactions in the plot that move the development of the theme forward.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students must have a working knowledge of theme, how to identify theme, and methods authors use to develop theme over the course of a literary text.

Students must have a working knowledge character development and of direct and indirect characterization techniques used in literary texts.

Instructional Procedures

Teachers may use either the character or theme analysis tool separately or simultaneously; however, we recommend beginning with character development for students who have little experience with the literary analysis process.

Step 1: Select a literary text appropriate to your population. It may be any length.

Step 2: Introduce the Analysis Tool and explain its purpose (with the learning objectives) to students.

Step 3: As students/teacher read the text, model how to complete the first box on the Analysis Tool.

Step 4: As students/teacher read the text, students may work to complete the remaining boxes individually, in groups, or as a class with teacher support, as necessary.

Step 5: Students work independently to complete the final summary statement of the theme or character development.

Options for Differentiation

Scaffolding Strategies

• Use a text that is less challenging, as this tool may be a cognitively challenging task.
• Use one of the Analysis Tools at a time.
• Model and use teacher think-aloud to guide students' thinking.
• Modify the phrasing/vocabulary within the document to meet the needs of your population.
• Allow students to complete the final summary task in a small group or in pairs.

Extension Strategies

• Students select their own texts to use with the tool.
• Students engage in a longer writing task that utilizes the information gathered on the Analysis Tool.
• Use this tool as a practice component to prepare for standardized assessment tasks.

Assessment

This resource is intended to be used as a skill-building tool, not as a summative assessment of learning in a unit. However, an extension writing task that asks students to use the evidence and summary statement from their work with this tool could be added.

Materials

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