The Hunger Games
Throughout the novel The Hunger Games, Collins highlights particular qualities unique to or shared among the characters of the novel. Indeed, in case of the tributes, such qualities eventually determine whether they survive or die. Caldwell and Littleton noted that in order to create the characters of her novel, Collins relied upon specific diction or word choice. In such way, the author creates physical descriptions or images of the characters. She also characterizes different individuals through their dialogues or conversations. As result, that allows the reader to form personal conclusions and about the characters (Arrow 5).
The novel The Hunger Games opens with a dysfunctional Panem society existing between the imbalance of power and imbalance of food. The Capitol deprives the twelve districts of all the benefits of harvests and products, while the districts themselves function in the near starvation on substandard Capitol handouts. Their unusual culture, struggling in the contemporary American society, reveals its complexities through social habits best portrayed in its use of food (Pharr, Clark & Palumbo 73).
The Capitol government has created a perfect recipe for revolution by producing us versus them mentality between itself and the districts. The symbolic quality of food has a long lineage in the Western history that Collins fully explores in her novel (Pharr, Clark & Palumbo 73). Because this community has nearly absolute control over the outlying districts, Panem has arrived at the point of the present day America: there is food in abundance, but that bounty is only available to a certain percentage of the population. Pharr, Clark and Palumbo noted that food is a political and cultural status symbol in the Capitol (75). By learning to read her meals as narratives about the antagonist sending her to fight for her life, Katniss is adding arrows to her quiver to defend herself against this greedy government.
While the rebels who continue hungering for justice, Collins moves beyond recognizable food by playing with the multilayered meaning of the berries that are not food that began the insurgency. Nightlock is a symbol of revolt against the Capitol since the essential holographic map device for Katniss final mission will explode with a five-yard destruction radius when anyone in the squadron repeats nightlock three times. District 13 and its President Coin conduct the war against the Capitol. As a symbol of the rebel cause formed through her radical acts as a tribute and winner, Katniss needs more than ever to follow her fathers advice (Pharr, Clark and Palumbo 75).
In the Capitol, the hunger games are a phenomenon and spawning and fanatic, glitz, glamour, speculation, and excitement. The novel acts as the most effective mirror of our own culture that has been produced since the advent of reality television and social media coincided with the mainstream practice of fandom. The Hunger Games is a story about what happens when media content and consumption become tangled and when interpretation becomes reflexive or bidirectional rather than reflective.
To an extent, the hunger games phenomenon can be understood as being part of a larger cultural trend, the one that has become visible. The novel appeals to a very broad audience and, therefore, is a product of its era, just like every other cultural artefact. Henthorne (3) noted that appearance of the first volume of Collins series coincided almost exactly with the beginning of the world economic crisis that began in the late 2008. Thus, it can be said that the novel The Hunger Games represents a reaction to the crisis (Henthorne 3).
Realizing the significance of Collins work both as a literary text and cultural production, it should be mentioned that most chapters start by bringing into perspective a theoretical approach and then applying it to the trilogy. In such a way, the author addresses the issues that might be overlooked by the casual reader. That demonstrates why Collins work presupposes a careful analysis (Henthorne, 3). The author explains how gender can be understood as a social construct and then analyzes how gender relations are both structured and represented in the trilogy. Collins addresses such topic as using of gender differences by the Capitol to position people against one another. In addition, in the novel, romance is presented both inside and outside of the arena. The writer also shows how Katniss ultimately challenges the authoritarianism of both the Capitol and District 13 by refusing to perform any of the roles they assign her.
In The Hunger Games, the games themselves structure the effective capacities of the citizens of Panem. The goal of the hunger games as they are played out is to cultivate a public that obeys the power of the Capitol. Pharr, Clark and Palumbo noted that the games act both as a warning for everyone forced to participate and as an unyielding demonstration of the Capitols dominance over the entire population (98). Because the games encourage audiences to cheer for the success or failure of certain tributes, the game makers affect peoples feeling by structuring the narrative of the media event to evoke a collective emotional response that the Capitol desires. According to the novel, television is a primary technological apparatus through which the dispersed districts of Panem appear as a living and breathing public that is subsequently the primary subject of the Capitols exploitation (Pharr, Clark &Palumbo 99).
In the novel The Hunger Games, Katniss as the main character authenticates herself through her actions against the Capitols control over the districts, their citizens and even media reports of the events that take place in Panem. Some of these actions are motivated strictly by Katniss desire to survive and ensure her familys survival, while others are more politically motivated. Such combination of motives, rather than a single motive, makes Katniss rebel, since such internal complexity eludes the Capitols attempt to categorize her and thereby oppress. Garriott et al. noted that Katniss transgressive nature and authenticity catalyze the action of the plot, when she volunteers during the Districts annual reaping ceremony to replace her sister, Primrose, as tribute in the 74th Hunger Games. Since then, she has established her place in Panem (34).
In the novel, Collins explores the aesthetic dimensions of popular culture by creating the dystopian world of Panem, where television is the populations primary means of communication. Katniss volunteering in place of her sister Rue and the poisonous berries come to symbolize both the beauty and brutality of the hunger games for those watching the arena (Garriott, Jones & Elizabeth 34). That gesture honors Katniss not necessarily as a winner of the hunger games, but as an artist who has painted a picture of atrocity. The demonstration of Katniss ability to inspire the citizens of Panem, which was cultivated through her star status as a winner of the hunger games, initiates yet another transformation.
More than an artist, Katniss character changes into a symbol of revolution. In the same way, she uses Rue to make a statement about the hunger games. The character of Katniss is also used to represent the political struggle against the Capitol. She represents an unstable reality that leads to another realization, another lie and another murder. Echoing the Capitols inability to control the aesthetic potential of the hunger games, Katniss cannot control the production and consumption of her own persona by public. The struggle to view tributes as actual people rather than celebrities during the hunger games mirrors Katniss own struggle to preserve her humanity and reach aesthetic potential as a revolutionary symbol.
In the novel The Hunger Games, Collins does not just list the names of the characters of the trilogy but goes deeper to offer an in-depth analysis of symbolism of the main characters names and their origins. The names used by Collins are, therefore, symbolic and portray the events carried out during the revolutions. The roman names and those related to military, flowers and food symbolize the events associated with war and the levels of social interactions faced by the people throughout the novel. The technologically sophisticated Capitol with its video surveillance, smart technologies and tracking devices symbolizes a big contrast to the agrarian style and struggles that many districts endure. Their inhabitants are surviving by illegally hunting in the woods, or by trading, bartering and stealing.
In conclusion, the hunger games can be compared with the circus games practiced in the Roman Republic. They often took place in the large amphitheaters, lasted for weeks and were purely for entertainment. Setting up a discourse of resistance, the novel The Hunger Games raises moral paradoxes and dilemmas, and its secrecy both inhibits and supports the moral choices the characters face. Katniss and those who live in the districts know that secrecy is necessary for survival, and disclosing a secret means not only a possible detection by the Capitol but even death for breaking the law. Although the story presents the future world, the country of Panem exists as a closed world with no apparent outside communications, despite the state-of-the-art technology in the Capitol, the governing city.
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