The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Ch. 9 – 11)

I’ve been comparing The Hunger Games to the new Netflix original Cuties a lot these past few days. Possibly because I’ve been reading about both of them a lot. They’re on my mind. A lot of people are having very, very strong reactions to Cuties because it comes across as oversexualizing young girls and the images it displays are quite disturbing. However, that’s kind of the point of the movie. It’s trying to make a statement about how the sexualization of women in society can bleed into young girls’ sense of self worth and their actions to their detriment. It’s trying to call attention to what the director believes is a problem in society. The current role models for girls are overly sexual and teach girls to act in the same way. They don’t benefit these girls. Real harm can be done when children try to act like adults. It’s just taking that concept way too far. I haven’t watched the movie because of how gross and degrading many of the clips I’ve seen from it are.

I’m currently rereading The Hunger Games right now and I feel like there’s some ties between what I know about Cuties and The Hunger Games. Both are basically entertainment gone too far. There seems to be no limit for the directors of the games or the movie. Even children are subject to their advances. It’s gross and it’s degrading. But is this kind of a real-world example of what happens in The Hunger Games. People are so starved for entertainment that almost anything seems reasonable for release. Thankfully, as a society, we aren’t embracing Cuties like The Capitol embraces the Hunger Games. 

I also wonder if Panem slowly built up to releasing The Hunger Games by releasing similarly violent clips earlier on. I understand the games were meant to quell future rebellions, but what did the media look prior to the rebellions that made the television of the deaths of children seem like a reasonable option? Was it a slow build-up like in the case of rampant oversexualization of women and children? Or was it a sudden, jarring moment in popular media? And how did other countries react to it? There’s so much that we just don’t know about The Hunger Games universe that I’m absolutely dying to learn more about. Maybe some of my questions will be answered in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. 

Back of the Book (Amazon.com)

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to death before-and survival, for her, is second nature. Still, if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Disclaimer: My Chapter Thoughts DO INCLUDE SPOILERS. They assume that you have read ALL of The Hunger Games series (books 1-3). They will mostly contain spoilers, however, in the chapter that they are covering. 

Chapter Nine Thoughts

Watching Katniss interact with Effie and Haymitch is always a welcome source of humor in this chapter. Waiting for the games to begin is always frightening. You wait with trepidation to see what the arena will be like, whether or not Katniss will have access to a bow and arrow, how everything will go. Some comedic relief is always welcome when the suspense gets to be too much. Plus, I adore Haymitch. I can’t help it. He’s so grumpy and I love it. 

And of course I always wonder what he would have done if he had gotten Gale to work with instead of Katniss. Katniss is unable to cultivate any fake personality. She cannot be defined as witty, funny, sexy, or really anything else. She is just herself. I wonder if he would have played up on her hatred for The Capitol and what the games stand for if she had been male. I think Gale’s hatred would have been what makes him stand out, but people don’t enjoy those traits on behalf of a girl. It’s not sexy for a woman to be angry and hateful. Only men can play into that role, even in our media.

Thankfully, however, Cinna has a better view of Katniss than Haymitch does. She doesn’t need to be any of those things; she just needs to be herself. Dressed in her radiant gown and giving the audience honest answers should be enough. Her “role” in the games could just be her honest self. And I love that. He believes in her so much that it reminds the reader over and over again about how impressive Katniss is. She is the girl who sacrificed herself to save her sister. She is genuine. She is the girl on fire. 

At the beginning of her interviews, I also found her description of the difference in appearance between members of The Capitol and people in her district interesting. They prioritize different things physically. In District 12, it is an achievement to look old. So many people die young that the elderly are appreciated and respected. They are survivors. Weighing more is a sign that they can afford to eat well and is therefore better. Members of The Capitol try their best to look younger and thinner. 

It is very comparable to the society I live in where many people try to stay young and thin forever. We have constant access to food and healthcare. Looking old or plump isn’t a good thing. I wonder if people in the past appreciated heavier set bodies and elderly people more than we do now. Obviously we had closer familial ties in the past, but I bet that feeling of respect extended into what we prioritized in physical appearances.

When Rue comes out, looking so completely innocent, it makes me think about what would have happened had she and Katniss been the last remaining tributes. I don’t think Katniss would ever be able to bring herself to kill someone who reminds her so much of her sister. I don’t know if Rue would be capable of killing Katniss. I wonder if they would have separated and allowed the Gamemakers to eventually decide who wins. Maybe the Gamemakers would have had to bombard them with constant attacks in order to end one of their lives. Had something similar ever happened in previous games? Had anyone ever refused to kill another person before?

Chapter Ten Thoughts

Peeta gives me chills when he tells the audience that he has feelings for Katniss every single time I read the end of chapter nine. There is something about his confession that just blows me away. It’s definitely similar to how the audience felt about it. It just comes across as so brave to confess to something that can be used against you. It also benefits Katniss more than himself. Does he plan on her winning? Has he already accepted his own demise? I think so. Peeta doesn’t believe he can win. 

Of course, it is also admirable that Peeta would rather lose as himself than win acting as someone else. He doesn’t want the games to change him as a person. Do you think people in The Capitol ever think about the mental consequences of the games? Does it occur to them that such intense violence changes a person, usually for the worse? They sometimes see the results – such as with Haymitch’s drinking – but it seems like they usually blame something else for those harmful behaviors. They ignore the more dire consequences. It’s despicable. 

But we kind of do the same with real world celebrities. Fame of any form can have real negative consequences and yet most of those negative consequences are brushed under the rug. I wish we could all be more open and honest about the problems that plague us. It would help us all get the help we need. Thankfully we are seeing positive changes in our overall society regarding these mental issues and addiction issues. It seems like people are starting to get help for them. They’re being more honest with their fans. I wonder if books like The Hunger Games play a role in that. They make it so obvious that everyone has issues, particularly if they’re being watched 24/7. 

Chapter Eleven thoughts

The beginning of the 17th annual Hunger Game. It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for. The excitement, the drama, the intrigue, the suspense. It always makes me feel nervous, even when I know the ending of this book. How can Katniss possibly survive this? She is being pitted against dozens of other competitors. She is in unfamiliar territory. She is terrified. 

And I’m always terrified right alongside her. 

But, unlike myself, Katniss is equipped to handle the stress. During the sixty seconds when the tributes wait for the games to truly begin, she is already making plans to escape the Cornucopia. Her excitement at the sight of the bow always brings me a sense of foolish relief. She has to survive if there’s a bow there ready for her. 

At the same time, you know that she won’t be able to get it. Suzanne Collins likes to build suspense too much for that. Plus, it would be stupid to head straight for the heart of the Cornucopia. Katniss would likely die in the process. We can’t have the book end too soon! It would also be a much, much darker story if the main character died. It would be more reminiscent of classic dystopic fiction where the main character either dies or loses themselves to the overbearing, corrupt governmental system.

When another tribute lights a fire nearby to where Katniss is strapped to a tree, it always made me wonder about what other mentors were like. Did no one warn the girl? Fire is an easy way to give away your precise location. Did no one care to explain that to her? Or was she just so scared and cold that she forgot? I’ve always wanted to learn more about the other tributes. It is so horrible that The Capitol is so willing to throw away their lives. Some are even trained all their life just to die. They all had background stories and lives. How could their government just condemn them to death? 

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