In his play, Our Town, Thornton Wilder uses a unique structure in comparison to other plays. He keeps the setting to a minimum, only including the crucial pieces of scenery. He does not introduce complex characters, which would lead themselves to be analyzed for the understanding of his points. Instead, simple characters are used to make Wilder's points clear and concrete. There is no defined plot, which also means the action has no expectation, suspense, or anticipation. By using this structural technique, Wilder relies on and refers to the reader's past experiences and ability to relate to the situations mentioned in the play. He creates scenes that are universally understood by any person in any town. This approach gives the play an overall positive tone because a person enjoys reading a piece of literature that can be related to his or her own life. The person will understand and appreciate the work on a deeper level. .
Wilder's basic theme is made up of three interlocking acts, which signify the major stages of human life. In the first act, he dwells on the commonplace and emphasizes birth, early morning, and the beginning of a young love, which later develops into marriage. Each scene portrays a predictable, unimportant event. The full significance of these minor events later becomes clear as Wilder explains that people live the first part of their lives without realizing the importance of the small events.
The second act represents the next cycle of daily life. People mature, their lives change greatly, and they get married. Love and marriage are the key focus of this act. He describes the wedding of one young couple, whose love began in the first act, and explains the details and traditions of the one wedding as the details and traditions of all weddings. He does this in an effort to continue universalizing his play. .
Following the natural order of human events, Wilders presents the idea of death in the third and final act.