Are books like The Hunger Games problematic or problem solving? I think it’s a hard call to make. On one hand, they tackle heavily violent scenarios. They describe scenes in which children are brutally killing other children. On the other hand, they go on to condemn that violence. Nothing about those scenes are good or wholesome. They are deeply problematic and one of the best parts of The Hunger Games is the fact that it is completely honest about that reality. In no way are they saying that violence is a good thing.
It’s a hard call to make and it was one I was thinking about in between chapters. The second time I read this book was at school. I believe I was in the eighth grade so I was fairly young at the time. And, of course, I had read it before already on my own. I know other schools ban books similar to this one and I’ve got to be honest… In my personal opinion, that’s really stupid. Teenagers have access to violence in all other popular media forms. They sing about it, hear about it from their friends, play games involving it, and watch movies where it’s nonstop. But they can’t read about it? I’m sorry. That doesn’t make much sense to me.
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.
I feel like any classic dystopic fiction would have killed off Katniss and Peeta with the berries. There would have been no victor for the 74th annual Hunger Games. There just would’ve been an overall feeling of emptiness. It’s strange the departure modern dystopias have taken from endings that were normally bleak and desolate. They inspire hope, not despair.
Katniss never would have lived and, if she had, it definitely wouldn’t have been in an environment where an attendant is trying to give her orange juice. She would have been a shell of herself. There would be nothing left except for what Panem wanted to make her into it.
I think part of that departure is due to the existence of Peeta. He is too pure for the games. He refused to allow them to change who he is as a person. A lot of that bled into Katniss as the games went on. Her burial of Rue, for example, was partially inspired by Peeta’s desire to show the Capitol that he isn’t their plaything. He’s a human being. He’s worth more than the death they wanted to give him.
That’s a powerful thing.
But it is strange to meet that the Capitol puts so much effort into saving Peeta’s life. It was obvious that they didn’t want two victors. Why not just let him die? They would have had Katniss. They only really needed one. I don’t think anyone could have blamed them for Peeta dying considering his condition at the close of the games. His heart stopped twice while they tried to heal him. Why bother at all?
After Katniss and Peeta are restored to their former selves, it’s strange that the Capitol wanted to reunite them on air. President Snow doesn’t believe in their love. Why bother with a tear-jerking reunion? He could have ended up disappointing the entire nation. What if Katniss let on that it was all for show?
Thankfully, Cinna’s careful design of Katniss’s girlish dress for after the games partially clues her into how much danger she is in for her maneuver during the games. Saving Peeta doesn’t come without a cost. She must convince the world she did it out of foolishness, not out of rebelliousness. Also thankfully, Haymitch is there to warn her, verbatim, of the danger she’s in.
It’s almost as if the games aren’t over for them. Katniss is in more danger than ever.
Although part of me always wondered why they didn’t play into allowing Katniss and Peeta to live. Why did no one ever say that they only were allowed to survive through the mercy of the Capitol? Why not use this as a moment to make the districts love Panem instead of hating and distrusting it? President Snow played this all wrong.
Caesar Flickerman is the most understated character in the world considering how ridiculous he is. I wonder if he really enjoys the game or is actually capable of understanding how horrible they are. He tries his best to make every tribute, and every victor, look good for the audience. Does he do that out of kindness for them or to save his own skin? I’d love to learn more about him.
How can you tell who has morals in this book? It’s next to impossible.
And how could you possibly condense everything Katniss and Peeta lived through into three hours of screen time? That sounds impossible, especially considering that there were so many more tributes to follow during the same time period. They were in the arena for weeks.
Although, I’ve got to say, I kind of want to see that version of the Hunger Games. It sounds like one untainted by the reality of the games. It’s all the drama and intrigue without any of the toil and struggle. The Capitol gets to focus on only the best parts of the games instead of just the grim reality. What if the director of the Hunger Games film had just released that version of the games? Would we all feel such hatred towards the leaders of Panem? Or would we want more?