The novel The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games is set in an unspecified future time, in the dystopian nation of Panem, where the population is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year, two young representatives aged 12-18 from each district are selected randomly to participate in The Hunger Games. The televised games are broadcasted for all of Panem to see, as the 24 participants are fighting to their death until there is only one remaining. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her little sister Prim’s place, when Prim is selected as District 12’s female representative. Katniss heads to the Capitol, where she will be trained to kill all the other tributes and be the victor of the 74th annual Hunger Games. The Hunger Games portrays strong and relevant morals and ideas throughout the novel, such as proving that sacrifice is the foundation to maturity, that being yourself will get you further than being someone you’re not, and that wealth doesn’t define power.
The Hunger Games is set in a very segregated society, divided between the people who have money and the people who don’t. The Capitol, who host the games, have more money than all the districts combined; giving them ultimate power over all of the citizens in each of the districts across Panem. Meaning that while the Capitol holds majority of Panem’s wealth, they can decide on which districts to give it to, leaving some districts wealthier or more privileged than others. When certain districts have more financial advantage over the others, in the hands of the Capitol, they have more opportunities to train their tributes to do well in The Games. This results in leaving the poorer districts disadvantaged and left with little chance in doing well, as Katniss says “The less money, the smaller the chance. We weren’t trained like they were Peeta.” This theme of class within societies, shows a prime example of issues with segregation that people face, and being advantaged or disadvantaged within a nation. I think that this theme heavily relates to society, with the way the author has chosen to portray this theme throughout the novel showing a more exaggerated play on the society that we live in. In today’s world, segregation and class based on wealth is hugely prominent in many places all over the world and can be seen almost anywhere that you go. I find it extremely unfair and saddening to be living in a world where individuals or groups are separated based on their wealth or status and can further link this theme to the world that I live in. The districts remind me of the ‘factions’ in Veronica Roth’s ‘Divergent.’ Although the factions in Divergent are divided by personality and the districts are divided by wealth, the same segregation and categorising is evident in both novels.
A significant theme that was presented to us through the character Katniss Everdeen was identity and being forced to change yourself while being watched by millions of people of the public. Before the Games, Katniss was a hunter in the poor District 12, Katniss was always focused on keeping herself and her family alive, and wasn’t very concerned of the way that she was being portrayed by those around her. As the novel progressed, we saw that after Katniss was thrown into a completely new environment; on television in The Games, with millions of people scrutinising her every word, she was forced to play a whole new version of herself on camera. Katniss struggled when she was faced with this challenging and demanding world that she wasn’t expecting; and soon learned that manipulating her public image and portraying a different exterior than herself, was the only way to survive in these Games. Katniss was assigned many upon many beauty stylists, to change her appearance in order to portray the image that they wanted her to show to the viewers watching the Games, and she had to follow through with this new persona, having to play the boy crazy Katniss for the cameras so that she could sell herself to the viewers. All of this is all too new and overwhelming for Katniss, and she asks for advice from her stylist, Cinna. Cinna reminds her "remember, they already love you. Just be yourself." Sadly I can relate to this strong recurring theme of changing your identity to my own life, and can personally understand some of the struggles that Katniss may have felt as she was trying to stay alive in this challenging world. I feel sorry for Katniss, as she makes a desperate attempt to fit in and to be liked by the public. I have found myself in similar situations to Katniss’s, changing myself to get in with the ‘cool kids’ or to make myself ‘popular.’ The Hunger Games strongly proves that changing yourself to fit other people's standards won’t get you anywhere, and that you get further just by being yourself.
It is very clear that in The Hunger Games, wealth means power. In the novel, the main source of power is the government of the Capitol. The Games are the most obvious example and a perfect display of the Capitol’s dominance. The citizens of the entirety of Panem are nothing more than players in a game of life or death. It disgusts me how the Capitol uses their leadership for bad rather than good, by taking advantage of their power. All that the Capitol care about is money, and they favour the richer districts and pity the poorer. The Games are broadcasted live on television, proving the tributes are giving up their lives for no more than the entertainment of the Capitol. This shows that the Capitol thinks they are worth more and are superior, and that they are more important than the rest. We can tell the Capitol think highly of themselves, as they say “look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift up one finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just like we did in District 13.” I feel bad for the children raised in Panem who will grow up believing the more money you have, the more powerful and relevant you are. Throughout the novel, I begin to recognise the small ways the districts resist the kind of power that the Capitol represents. An attempt to resist the power was when Katniss covered Rue’s, a tribute from District 4, dead body in flowers. As Katniss explains, “ I want to do something, right here, right now, to shame them, to make them accountable, to show the Capitol that whatever they do or force us to do that there is a part of every tribute they can’t own. That Rue was more than a piece in their Games. And so am I.” Another attempt to resist the power was when District 12 gives Katniss their salute during the reaping. Although small, these symbolic gestures show that humans standing together represent power, despite how rich they might be. The relationship between the government and the public in The Hunger Games reminds me of the United States and Donald Trump, as many citizens of the USA don’t agree with the decisions that he makes for the country. Multiple protests have been made against Donald Trump, which proves that when people come together enforcing something they believe in they are powerful, and that money isn’t power. I can also relate this to myself and to being a teenager, as often we are judged based on how much money we have or don’t have, and even discriminated or categorised accordingly.
To conclude, The Hunger Games is an intriguing and powerful novel that is rich in themes and moral challenges, that Suzanne Collins has made not only very relatable to the audience but also relatable to society. Through Katniss Everdeen, the themes, and the plot the author has presented us with the striking message that being yourself will get you further than pretending to be somebody you’re not, and that we often fall guilty of judging people’s worth based on their wealth. The author has portrayed the eminent theme of identity and changing yourself to fit other people's standards, very prominently through the character Katniss as we follow the challenges she faces when she is thrown into the spotlight. These theme and morals helped me to learn and understand the true meanings of them, and their importance in my life.
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