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Main Idea, Central Idea, and Theme

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by

Shelly Hosler

on 28 July 2015

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Transcript of Main Idea, Central Idea, and Theme

The Tell-Tale Heart
by Edgar Allen Poe

Challenge:

What is the main idea of The Tell-Tale Heart?

The main idea of a fictional text is basically one sentence that sums up the whole story.

In a short piece of fiction, it is a combination of the
important
character(s)
,
the problem
, and
actions to solve the problem
.

For example:
Cinderella is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, but she is kind and patient so her fairy godmother saves her and she lives happily ever after with the prince.
Main Idea
Theme
Cinderella

Main Idea:

Cinderella is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, but her fairy godmother saves her and she lives happily ever after with the prince.

Central Idea:
The story of Cinderella reveals that people who are kind and patient are often rewarded for their good deeds.

Theme:

Kindness or Patience
Central Idea
The central idea is the central, unifying element of the story, which ties together all of the other elements of fiction used by the author to tell the story. The central idea can be best described as the dominant impression or the universal, generic truth found in the story.

For Example:

The
Central Idea
of Cinderella might be:

The story of Cinderella reveals that people who are kind and patient are often rewarded for their good deeds.
Whats the difference?

Main Idea, Central Idea, and Theme in Fiction
The theme in a story is its underlying
message, or 'big idea.' In other words, what critical belief about life is the author trying to convey in the story? This belief, or idea, transcends cultural barriers. It is usually universal in nature. When a theme is universal, it touches on the human experience, regardless of race or language. It is what the story means. Often, a piece of writing will have more than one theme.

Theme and Central Idea are basically the same thing, however there is one key difference:

Theme is usually only one word!

For example:

The
theme
of Cinderella might be:
Kindness or Patience
Let's Compare
We Need Details!
Central Idea
&
Theme
Detail #3
Who are the
characters
in the story?
Detail #2
Main Idea
Supporting Details
Find textual evidence to support the
main idea
Detail #1
*Find textual evidence!
What was the
conflict
in the story?
*Find Textual Evidence!
How was the
conflict solved
?
*Find textual evidence!
But wait! What kind of details do we need for the main idea, and what kind of details do we need for the central idea?
Full transcript