Motifs are recurring ideas/effects (image, sound, action, or other figure) that contribute to a certain theme or larger idea. 

Motifs are not merely symbols (physical objects) although the two are related.

Identifying motifs:

  • Are there certain ideas or images that keep coming up in the story?
    • Why has the author included these ideas repeatedly? What are they contributing to the story?
  • Consider a particular theme: are there certain ideas or images that are associated with that theme?
    • How are these ideas associated with particular themes? Why these ideas? How do they contribute to the theme?

Always answer the “why” questions