Credit: Carl Van Vechten, 1936
“When an idea is brought out in a literary work […] it is often given the name theme. This word refers to something laid down, a postulate, a central or unifying idea. Loosely, the theme of a work and its major idea or central idea may be considered as synonyms” (Jacobs and Roberts 363).
Idea and theme are synonyms and to find the theme of a story, we must look at statements made by the characters, figurative language used, characters representative of ideas, and direct and dramatic statements (Jacobs and Roberts 366-367). In doing this we can examine the meanings the author of the work has left for us to discover. So when we talk or write about the themes of the Harlem Renaissance, we turn to writers like Langston Hughes, for guidance. Continue reading
John Steinbeck (1902-1968) is a notable author of Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. His books are often set in California (especially Salinas Valley) and have a focus on the Depression era, the Dust Bowl and migrant workers. Mr. Steinbeck received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1940 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1962.
In “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck, setting helps to show the character of Elisa Allen as a hard-working woman who has, to this point, placed her attractiveness on the back burner. Continue reading
Ralph Ellison, 1961
Ralph Ellison (1914-1994), best known for The Invisible Man, was a novelist and critic, who also wrote an anthology of essays on the works of William Faulkner, Richard Wright and the music of Duke Ellngton. Mr. Ellison received the National Medal of Arts in 1985.
Symbolism in literature can possess a universal meaning, or one recognized in different stories, or a personal meaning, a meaning that only makes sense within that piece of writing.
Title: “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
Kate Chopin (1851-1904) was a St. Louis-born author of short stories and novels. One of her better-known works is The Awakening, in which “The Story of an Hour” appears. Kate Chopin is considered a fore-runner of feminism in literature.
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin utilizes a type of POV called limited omnipresent, which limits our understanding of a person’s thoughts and actions to only one major character, in this case, Louise Mallard, a woman who is shocked by news of the sudden death of her husband.
Title: “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman Continue reading