Theme In Fiction: So Different From Non-fiction

Theme is why fiction matters, because it is the quality that gives the story a universal appeal. Some say theme is what the story is about, but that is too ephemeral a definition, which may get confused with the idea or the plot.

Theme enriches and inspires the reader while saying something profound about the human condition. Theme is the abstract concept behind the story forming the story’s heart and soul that the exposition, dialogue, and action reflect every chance they get.

Theme is not the characters or the plot or the original idea that started the story. For example, a writer may begin with the idea of exploring family relationships between women, but as his story progresses, his theme may shape up as forgiveness and understanding between different generations of females.

Theme is implied, sometimes without the writer’s knowing of it at the start; however, more experienced writers usually work on their theme harder than any other part of the story once they catch on to what it is they are writing about.

In non-fiction, the writer is advised to hone in to his theme and begin referring to it right at the first paragraph. In fiction, on the other hand, the theme usually blossoms through the writing as the story progresses.

An experienced and capable author never pronounces what his theme is about inside his story. For a story to be successful, its theme needs to stay invisible but hinted at with subtlety through other devices of fiction.

Theme is most visible in the protagonist’s greatest choice in a story. The easiest way to pinpoint a theme is to put it in question form. Here the question to ask is: what is the protagonist’s biggest emotional decision to resolve the story’s conflict?

For example, if we take Charles Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities” the main identifying theme may take the form of this question: Can one sacrifice his life for the one he loves? In the same story, many smaller themes are interwoven as well, like life and death, resurrection, revolution, justice and revenge, war and peace, and power or abuse of power, since many works of fiction carry several supporting themes that wrap around the main theme.

If the theme envelopes an emotion, its power becomes universal. When the writer creates and dramatizes his theme through an emotion, his expression of the truth leaves an unforgettable impact on the reader. Thus an ambitious writer may choose an emotion as the major part of his theme.

Another common technique is hinting at the theme in the dialogue, but the risk here is in becoming too obvious. Although this may be done successfully by an experienced author, the beginning writer should try to stay away from blurting the theme out through the dialogue.

A much used way to demonstrate a theme is through the actions of the protagonist and the antagonist, with the antagonist showing the dark side of the theme and the protagonist the positive side.

Communicating both sides of the argument equally, sometimes through both the antagonist and the protagonist, may define the theme with more impact. In Les Misérables, our softer side may stick with Jean Valjean, but we also see the righteousness in Inspector Javert.

One other way to emphasize the theme is through all the characters in a story, with each character representing an aspect of the theme, as in Godfather stories when the theme of power is presented with each character representing another facet of power.

Referring to the theme in recurring images, props, colors, settings, and situations may also be used in the presentation of the theme. The color red in the movie American Beauty gives an important tip-off in presenting the main theme of the story as it plays to the viewer’s emotions each time it is shown.

Even when the plot is about something out of the writer’s imagination that may not emotionally involve us, the story becomes unforgettable if the theme makes itself known. We may not care for Luke Skywalker’s intergalactic triumph as much as we care about good winning over evil. Theme is very important to the overall success of any piece of fiction. When handled deftly, it will become a faithful servant to any writer.

A Book Review of Atomic Farmgirl: The Hanford Nuclear Site and the Tragedy of the Downwinders

Atomic Farmgirl is a well-written account of the life of a downwinder’s family and her neighbors in the Palouse Hills of eastern Washington State. A downwinder is a person who lived in the area where iodine-131, Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s nuclear waste, was released in the late 1940s through the 1950s. After the Freedom of Information Act was passed and the Spokesman Review started researching the releases and comparing them with the wind patterns, this information became available to the populous at large.

This downwinder’s story is open, honest, and filled with excellent examples of character development. The author, Teri Hein, paints a picture of life in small town farm communities in eastern Washington. She covers the rolling hills, harvest time, wheat, Steptoe Butte, loess, bird-hunting, small schools, churches, football, basketball, baseball, parades, horses, and the list of goes on – joyous memories of growing up in a small farming community. However, some looming treachery began to emerge. First, her father, then a neighbor boy, another childhood friend, a neighboring mother, and the list grew over two decades. These people, the ones she knew most closely began to get sick and most died. They contracted thyroid disease or cancer in one of its many forms – leukemia, lupus, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and more. Eventually, Teri became aware that something unique and sinister was occurring in her neighborhood, as seven of the ten farm families within a square mile had come down with the diseases. In most of those families it was multiple members with thyroid disease or cancer. Her book covers the lives of those victims.

Like Teri, I grew up in one of these small towns – Oakesdale, just 25 miles southwest of Teri’s beloved Fairfield. If you draw a 100-mile line between the Hanford site and Fairfield, Oakesdale will be bisected by that line, a line which also represents the prevailing southwesterlies. The experience of my neighborhood is congruent to that of Teri’s neighborhood.

One cold winter morning in the mid-fifties we awoke to a freshly fallen cover of snow. It was dotted with beautiful pink spots like some miracle, but it was not from nature, nor from heaven. I believe it was one of the many releases of radioactive toxins from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. We frolicked in that snow, made snow angels and snowmen. Within the year, my closest neighbors Tom Crossett and Ray Ebert developed thyroid disease. Subsequently, Tom’s sister Suzy Crossett, my cousin Susan Gregory, Tom’s closest friends Danny Horn and Mike Lamb, my closest friend John Rogers, and three of the four Byrum brothers have all died of cancer, long before their time. Consequently, Teri’s account is deeply poignant to me. Although I knew some of her older friends, I’ve never met Teri Hein, but I feel as if I’ve known her all my life. Teri filets her soul open to the world and exposes every nerve.

I highly recommend Atomic Farmgirl: Growing Up Right in the Wrong Place. Everyone should be aware of this tragedy.

C.R. Gibson First 5 Years Memory Book, Record Memories and Milestones on 64 Beautifully Illustrated Pages – Bella

C.R. Gibson First 5 Years Memory Book, Record Memories and Milestones on 64 Beautifully Illustrated Pages - Bella

Price: $29.95


Bella baby memory book features beautiful pearlized paper accented by fabric flowers, ribbon and foil stamping. These sweet touches add sweetness and delicate elegance to the memory book. Bella, by C.R. Gibson, has beautifully decorative interior pages to record memories and milestones of baby’s first 5 years. Archival quality pages that are acid-free and lignin-free that will preserve your precious memories. This memory book is 9″w x 1-1/8″h, and arrives gift boxed, perfect for self purchase or gift-giving. Interior pages will include: All About Mommy/Daddy; Family Tree; Baby Shower list for guest and gifts; All about me, the day I was born; Baby’s tiny hand and foot prints; The World Around Me; Homecoming Day; The Price of…; Watch Me Grow Monthly Calendars; Immunization Chart; All My Firsts; New Adventures; Holidays and Celebrations; Some of My Favorites; First Day of School; Letter from Mommy; Letter from Daddy. The name C.R. Gibson has been synonymous with quality for more than 140 years. Starting with the creation of the very first baby book in 1898, along with timeless baby keepsakes, families around the world have depended on C.R. Gibson as their number one provider of products that celebrate life’s most cherished moments. Understanding the importance of preservation and craftsmanship, C.R. Gibson products offer a tradition of excellence and quality. C.R. Gibson sets a standard for style that reflects today’s top fashions while creating a timeless treasured keepsake.Decorative, memory book to record memories and milestones of baby’s first 5 years. Pages Include: All About Mommy, All About Daddy, Our Family Tree, Pregnancy Chronicle, Baby Shower Guest/Gift List, My Arrival, Introducing Brand-New Me! Birth Certificate
Pages Also Include: Hospital Bracelet, Handprints, Footprints, Birth Announcement, Newspaper Announcement, Homecoming, Visitors/Gifts, Adventures in Parenting, The World Around Me, Growth Charts, Immunization Chart, Dental Chart
Pages Also Include: Milestones 1st-12th months, All of My Firsts, Giggles and Grins, My First Haircut, My First Vacation, Holidays and Celebrations, Some of My Favorites, 1st-5th Birthday pages, My First Day of School, Funny Stories & Sweet Memories
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WITHit LED Book Light by French Bull-Raj LED Book Reading Light

WITHit LED Book Light by French Bull-Raj LED Book Reading Light

Price: $14.99


The LED Reading Light by French Bull is the perfect LED book light that fits e-readers and books. This book reading light was designed to reduce light glare with a specially designed neck. LED reading lights powered by two CR2032 coin cell batteries (included).LED reading light features a clip that attaches easily to e-readers and books
Our book light features a neck designed to fully illuminate screen while reducing glare
Portable reading light clip was specially designed to securely attach to all e-readers
Reading light is powered by two CR2032 coin cell batteries (included)

Naomi Home Kids Toy Sling Book Rack, Cream/Natural

Naomi Home Kids Toy Sling Book Rack, Cream/Natural

Price: $19.99


The Naomi kids toy sling bookrack is a great addition for any nursery play area or book nook store and display five levels of your children s favorite books for easy access and cleanup in this colorful bookshelf available in three finishes of natural white or espresso the sling bookcase will fit into any decor fabric choices include bright primary colors of red yellow blue and green as an accent cream for a more subtle look or add a splash of pastel color featuring sea green aqua blue yellow and orange sit back and watch you foster your child s love for reading as they run and pick their favorite storybook from the bookrack it makes reading time more fun.Product dimensions 24 wide x 10 25 depth x 24 inches height
The innovative design allows books to be displayed by the front or back to make them easier to identify by kids
Easy storage and organization

Book Light for Reading in Bed | Clip on LED Reading Light & Flexible Bookmark | Batteries Included | Great Birthday Gifts for Book Lovers | Blue

Book Light for Reading in Bed | Clip on LED Reading Light & Flexible Bookmark | Batteries Included | Great Birthday Gifts for Book Lovers | Blue

Price: $9.99


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