Lesson Plan

The Relationship Among Character, Plot, and Theme


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Big Ideas




This lesson builds on students’ understanding of how literature reflects real people, real conflicts, and universal themes. Students will: [IS.11 - Language Function]

  • analyze the development of character in a short story.
  • analyze how the conflict between characters advances plot.
  • explain the relationships among character, plot, and theme.

Essential Questions

  • How does interaction with text provoke thinking and response?


[IS.1 - Preparation ]

[IS.2 - ELP Standards]

[IS.3 - All Students]

  • Characterization: The method an author uses to reveal characters and their various personalities. [IS.4 - All Students]
  • Plot: The structure of a story. [IS.5 - All Students and Struggling Learners] The sequence in which the author arranges events in a story. The structure often includes the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution. [IS.6 - Struggling Learners] The plot may have a protagonist who is opposed by an antagonist, creating what is called conflict. [IS.7 - All Students] [IS.8 - Struggling Learners]
  • Theme: A topic of discussion or writing; [IS.9 - All Students] a major idea broad enough to cover the entire scope of a literary work. [IS.10 - ELL Students]


50–100 minutes/ 1–2 class periods

Prerequisite Skills


  •  “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker from In Love & Trouble: Stories of Black Women. Mariner Books, 2003. “Everyday Use” has strong main characters, a clearly defined plot (aspects of exposition, rising action, climax, and resolution are easily discussed), and a powerful main theme. The story elements are tightly intertwined, and it can elicit animated discussions about the meaning of culture and family heritage. Other examples with strong characters and interrelated theme include “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell, “A Worn Path” by Eudora Welty,  “The Sky is Gray” by Ernest J. Gaines, and the novel The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane.
  • “An Enemy of the People” adapted by Arthur Miller. Penguin, 1977. [IS.12 - All Students]
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. CreateSpace, 2009. [IS.13 - All Students]
  • three copies for each student of the Character Profile worksheet (L-L-7-1_Character Profile.doc) [IS.14 - ELL Students]
  • computer projection of the Sample Completed Character Profile (L-L-7-1_Sample Completed Character Profile.doc)

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