Essay on Themes

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Topic:
Essay on Themes
By now you should have your own personal narrative (text #1), your identification of at least 3 (or 5, if you have added your concepts from Chapters 9-11) concepts from the textbook (text #2), your interview with a classmate (text #3) and your interview with someone outside of class (text #4).  By considering all of these texts, you should be able to identify at least one theme.  In the simplest terms, a theme is something that your story and your interviews have in common; details about the communication that both you and your interviewee described.  For example, “All three narratives describe how the people involved tried to be nice to each other because it was a holiday gathering.”  The theme would then be: People try harder to be nice to each other at holiday gatherings.  This could lead to another theme, such as, “Bottled up aggression often explodes before the gathering ends.”
After considering Specific Themes (things your narratives have in common) consider any general ideas about human communication that rise out of the narratives.  For example, a student who wrote about an argument he had with his adopted mother when she found out he had contact with his birth mother determined that “something that causes conflict can often lead to greater intimacy.”  This is a general, abstract theme that could be applied to many, many different situations, but rose out of his analysis of the conversation with his mom.
General Themes can be ideas about communication that have been heavily researched, and therefore you may find a great deal of published information about, or they can be “new” ideas that have not yet been identified by researchers.  Consider the possibility that your theme, or themes, could be added to a future interpersonal communication textbook, as an idea that would help someone else better understand their communication.
Another way to think of a general theme is as “the moral to the story.”  What does your story say about communication in general?  What is something that other people could learn about communication by hearing your story?
For this homework assignment, begin by simply comparing and contrasting your narrative and the interviews, and try to identify three things they have in common (specific themes).  From there, try to describe a general theme.  Here is a list of general themes that students came up with last semester:
In interpersonal communication, “it takes two to tango.”
Children raised by single parents long for the missing parent.
You need to forgive, because everyone makes mistakes in relationships.                                                                    Hiding how you really feel leads to problems in relationships.
Sharing one’s spiritual viewpoints with a close relative will raise a high level of    emotions.
We often end conversations with haptics.
Bridging communication gaps between parent and child requires self-control and    patience.
Feeling needed is a basic human instinct.
When parents divorce, older siblings become leaders to younger siblings.
A parent can help a young child overcome adversity and grow from it.
Passion influences our behavior.
Commitment is a choice.
Confront conflicts when they first come up.
Be careful what factors you use to judge a new acquaintance.
Sometimes it takes a stranger to get you to see a flaw in yourself.
Signs of an abusive person are: over protectiveness, aggressiveness, and jealousy.
If someone hits you once they are likely to keep hitting you.
We tend to avoid what we are afraid of, and avoiding conflict leads to more conflict.
It takes a village to raise a child.
Being yourself leads to true friendship.
“Daddy’s little girls” can be overprotective of Daddy.
Accepting other people’s differences leads to knowledge about life.
Parents have trouble trusting their children to make good decisions.
Trust occurs as a process over time.
Just because you’re related doesn’t mean you have a relationship.
Listening is a good way to develop trust.
Emotional support allows a relationship to grow.
A near death experience can help you appreciate your relationships.
Trust is the most important aspect of friendship.
You can’t run away from a tough situation.
Think things over before you react to your emotions.
We fail to listen when we are too focused on our own thoughts and feelings.
As you can see there is a great variety to these themes.  Your theme will be unique.  On the surface it may not sound deep, or important, but what matters is that your theme emerges as a result of the entire process up to this point, so it will be meaningful to you.
Once you identify specific and general themes, write an essay following this format:
I. Introduction (preview)
A. Provide a brief overview of your story and the interview
B. List all of the specific things that all three of your narratives have in common (specific themes).
II. Body
A. Explain your specific themes using references to the narratives.
1. Specific Theme 1
2. Specific Theme 2
3. Specific Theme 3
4. Etc
B. Explain a General Theme
1. Overview of theme
2. How did you discover it?
3. How can you apply it to future experience?
III. Conclusion (summary)

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