It works for Luke Skywalker... and Neo... and Barack Obama...
A paradigm some teachers use for wrestling literature into submission is a checklist for heroes. Students may not see many of the different strata of a great story. They might miss the symbolism or the message or how the story applies to their own lives or the lives of others. Now I'm not necessarily endorsing the checklist (often called the Monomyth as laid out by Joseph Campbell), and I'm certainly not saying it's the only way to get the most out of the layers of stories that twang something deep inside us but we can't quite articulate why they do so. Generally, though, stories of heroes which last from generation to generation tend to deal with many of the issues in this list:
• Oracle of conflict
• Significant birth (often miraculous)
• Hiding of the child/exposure
• Rescue and rustic rearing
• Preparation and Meditation, withdrawal
• Call to adventure
• Departure on Quest
• Road of Trials/Tests/Tribulations
• Ritualized (often) death or scapegoating
• Descent into the underworld
• Atonement with Father/God (apotheosis)
Think about it in terms of significant figures from history, and it after a while you begin to say, "Yeah, yeah... I see that. Yeah, it's just like Jesus, or King Arthur, or..."
Read the rest at Denny's place.