Quick Write

theme is the main idea or underlying meaning of a text which may be stated directly or indirectly.

An issue is an important topic or problem for debate or discussion.

Write down two to three important themes, issues, or events from the chapters for today to discuss with the class.

Introduction to Literary Analysis

Literary Analysis Prompt


Write an essay about a theme or issue explored in the novel. For this essay, apply your analytical skills to develop a detailed and rigorous argument. Pick something that you find interesting or intriguing from the novel and develop it into a thesis driven essay. The significance or meaning of the topic, in other words what the passage is saying is the central part of this paper. Focus on details, patterns, anomalies, and binaries you notice as evidence to support your thesis’ claims about the ideas that the text is communicating. Identifying the ideas will be the challenging part, because it requires you to move beyond the details to the significance (or the so what question).

You will have to include outside research, one to two articles, public or scholarly to help develop and support your thesis. You need to paraphrase and quote passages from the text to support your claims.

Summary vs Analysis

Summary – shortened version of what happens. The story condensed into a paragraph, or a chapter condensed into a sentence. A scene condensed into a sentence.

ex: Nadia was assaulted at the bank.

Ex: Nadia sleeps with the musician.

Analysis – Breaking things down to component parts to understand why things are happening and what it means.

Ex: Why was the scene of Nadia assaulted at the bank included in the story. Why did the author include it?

Ex: What does Nadia sleeping with the musician reveal about her character? What does this say about her?

  • Characters
  • Plot, story
  • scenes
  • lines
  • themes
  • metaphors

Exit West

Write a short summary of a chapters so that it will be easier to find key scenes. This will help everyone when we begin looking for scenes to analyze.

Themes and Topics

  • War
  • Death
  • Drugs, drug use
  • Family
  • Sexual assault
  • Dating, relationships
  • love, lovers
  • Unhappy with circumstances
  • Jobs, careers, loss of
  • No named characters
  • cell phones
  • internet
  • “sex”
  • normal city life
  • “Doors” passages
    • Australia
    • Tokyo
    • San Diego
    • Dubai
    • unnamed
  • assault at the bank
  • death of characters
  • family sacrifice, father not leaving
  • Escaping their war torn home


Themes or Issues

What themes or issues have we talked about in the novel? Are there any we have not mentioned yet in class?

Focused Reading and Analysis

Now that you are deciding on a theme or issue to write about from the novel, your reading should be more focused. Every time something related to your topic comes up in the book you should be annotating it. Write down notes about your topic. Write the next reading journal or journals with your topic in mind. Use the rest of the novel and writings to help you begin analyzing the text in relation to your essay. Go back and annotate, underline, and highlight all the references to your theme so that you will have more moments to help you think through the topic.

Sample Essays

The Misfits

Loving a Broken Girl

The Hidden Complexities of Clemencia