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Political Plunder: Hunger Games.

By JlMulliner09 Jan 12, 2011 662 Words
Political Plunder.
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 Hollywood fashion obsession, but the characters are not entirely 2-dimensional. The stylists are shallow, but they are human. Cinna, her main stylist, doesn’t fit the stereotype at all, and he assists Katniss in her rebellion against the Capitol. There is an ongoing commentary on poverty in the books. There is discussion of abuse of power during wartime. “If I held them [the berries] out to defy the Capitol, then I am someone of worth.” Katniss begins to recognize her faults: “I’m selfish. I’m a coward….No wonder I won the Games. No decent person ever does” (CF p. 117) This is a book series about the plight of the oppressed poor against the Masters of War, “those who use their brains to find amusing ways to kill us” (CF, p. 236). The story focuses not on those who are ready to fight a new rebellion (Gale and Peeta), but on the young woman who isn’t: Katniss. Here’s the political key to The Hunger Games, “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” No, that Plutarch quote that Rowling used isn’t found anywhere in the books, even though we do have a key character named Plutarch Heavensbee. “Yes, everyone in the districts will be watching to see how I handle this death sentence, this final act of President Snow’s dominance. They will be looking for some that their battles have not been in vain. If I can make it clear that I’m still defying the Capitol right up to the end, the Capitol will have killed me … but not my spirit. What better way to give hope to the rebels? [...] I will be more valuable dead. They can turn me into some kind of martyr for the cause”…. (p. 243-44,

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