A thematic thread, or thematic patterning, means the insertion of a recurring motif in a narrative. For example, various scenes in John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men are about loneliness. Thematic patterning is evident in One Thousand and One Nights, an example being the story of "The City of Brass". According to David Pinault, the overarching theme of that tale, in which a group of travelers roams the desert in search of ancient brass artifacts, is that "riches and pomp tempt one away from God". The narrative is interrupted several times by stories within the story. These include a tale recorded in an inscription found in the palace of Kush ibh Shaddad; a story told by a prisoner about Solomon; and an episode involving Queen Tadmur's corpse. According to Pinault, "each of these minor narratives introduces a character who confesses that he once proudly enjoyed worldly prosperity: subsequently, we learn, the given character has been brought low by God ... These minor tales ultimately reinforce the theme of the major narrative".
Some common themes in literature are "love," "war," "revenge," "betrayal," "patriotism," "grace," "isolation," "motherhood," "forgiveness," "wartime loss," "treachery," "rich versus poor," "appearance versus reality," and "help from other-worldly powers."