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The play's major, unifying theme is the shame of taking life for granted and not appreciating every moment of every day. During the course of the play, Wilder points out that life is fleeting, and death often comes unexpectedly; therefore, it behooves people to live their lives to the fullest every moment and to let family and friends know that they are loved and appreciated.
Closely related to the major theme of the play, the minor theme emphasizes the pattern of life. People are born, form a daily routine, marry, have children, grow old, and die. The structure of the play supports this important theme. The play opens at dawn (the birth of a day) with a discussion about the twins born in Polish town. Act I then quickly begins to describe the insignificant details of the daily routine in Grover's Corners, closing at night with the patrolling of the constable. The second act is devoted to love and marriage, with the wedding of George and Emily. The Stage Manager points out that the natural outcome of a marriage is to have children. Act III is set in a cemetery and centers on death. Emily has died prematurely, giving birth to her second child. And the pattern of life goes on.
The mood of the play is very calm and ordinary, to the point of seeming almost boring. As a result, Wilder uses the mood to emphasize the theme of his play, that people are not excited about living. Most people, just like the Gibbs and Webbs, go through life experiencing the day to day with little joy or sorrow. They simply let life pass them by smoothly and predictably.