Panem is what remains of North America as we presently know it after some kind of environmental tragedy stuck (HG p. 18) - perhaps an intended reference to climate change? In response to catastrophe, there’s always a government ready and willing to save the day by taking away people’s freedoms. This is what the Capitol does in Panem, a world split into 13 districts that exist on the land that remains. Panem, as we know it, is post-rebellion. We’re quite some time removed from whatever catastrophe put the world in the shape it’s in, but we’re just 74 years removed from a revolution that was quelled with horrific force by the Capitol. As a yearly reminder not to get out of line, two children from each district are selected for The Hunger Games – thrown into an arena where they are expected to kill each other, and the last kid standing wins. You should be thinking both Roman gladiator games and The Running Man at this point. The Games are a smart move on the Capitol’s part. J.K. Rowling says that she was exploring in her Harry Potter books the problem of an oppressed group splintering into factions and in-fighting. In The Hunger Games, The Capitol has guaranteed this will happen before it can even develop organically by pitting District children against District children. We see this happen at the start of the 75th Games. You’d think that the remaining victors would decide to band together, say “Screw the games,” and refuse to play once in the arena. Instead, they immediately return to violence against one another (CF, p. 276). On the other hand, it might not be such a smart move. When people can fight in freedom, they fight. When they’re forced by the State to fight, they just might join together and tell the State they won’t have it. There is satire galore in these books, and fashionistas get the worst of it. Katniss, our heroine, is set up with a team of them to get her presentable for the Games. The descriptions are thick with parody of...
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