Publication date: September 14th, 2008
Genre: Adventure, love, science fiction, Alternative history
The hunger games (2008) written by Suzanna Collins are a young-adult novel. The story takes place in Panem, which was composed by 13 districts before the government of the capitol completely destroyed the whole ruble district 13. The purpose of this act was to show its ultimate power to the rest of the 12 districts. The story also describes the bloody annual event implemented by the government, where they randomly pick up 24 teenagers who fight to their death. Among them, we find our main character from District 12, Katniss Everdeen who has been forced to take charge of her family after her father’s death.
Our story has many interesting characters, but I would like to take a closer look at our main characters:
Katniss Everdeen (she is a major, limited character) was very attached to her father, who taught her a lot of his habits and skills as well, like shooting with bow and arrow, fishing, hunting and using the woods to her benefit. Katniss was so close to her father she followed in his footsteps and became a hunter. She is one of the tributes in the yearly event “Hunger Games”. Katniss loves her sister more than anything, and would do everything for her. “I protect Prim in every way I can, but I’m powerless against the reaping”(1.63). In fact on the reaping day her beloved sister Prim was picked to be a tribute ( picked to represent dictrict 12 in the games) , but Katniss without hesitation volunteers as a tribute and takes her sisters place. This has created great attention and sympathy, which has contributed to her celebrity. This act could be a reflection of what Haymitch was teaching her as her coach. She also gets a nickname from her stylist Cinna and gets known as the girl on fire. Katniss’s environment has strongly affected her personality to the se. nse that she avoids all warm and fuzzy emotions, because all her focus was on feeding and protecting her family. Furthermore I would like to pointe out that Katniss lives a very hard life, which contains poverty and starvation. This has developed her personality to be a pragmatic character and also a survivor. However her protective instinct named above, are not only limited to Prim and her mother, but also to her surrounding as well. In fact she said“ protection Peeta.
Peeta Mallark (round character) is Katniss’s co-tribute in the games. It’s obvious that Katniss doesn’t want him to fight against him. Maybe because he saved her life when her father died? He gave her two laves of bread that actually saved her, and her family’s lives. Peeta has been in love with Katniss ever since she sang a song in class. She means everything to him. But this feeling is not actually mutual, although Peeta was a symbol of hope for Katniss. Due to the fact that he helped her to feed her family, which was her main worries. Actually he was the person that gave her courage to carry on her path, just like when Rue died in her arms.
Rue is a 12-year-old girl from District 11. She is a hunter as well, just like Katniss. She likes to climb from tree to tree, and she is also really good at it. Katniss acts as Rue’s protector, and they even become allies. Katniss was treating Rue as is she was her little sister. Based on these feelings, and the strong relationship that has been bullied during the fight. Katniss was ready to do anything in her power to save Rue. Unfortunately, Rue dies and this was a reflection point in Katniss’s life.
The author was very selective in every part of the book, even the names of the characters were carefully chosen. With a deep look to those we find symbols, like the name Prim that means “first” in Latin. In fact she was chosen fist in her first year on reaping day. Katniss got a gift from the mayor’s daughter, a mockingjay pin. The Mockingjay in this novel symbolizes rebellion and resistance. As Katniss says they’re “ something of a slap in the face to the capitol” (3.55). By the way, the mockingjays is a mix of jabberjays, which is a genetically engineered bird that was used as a spy by the capitol, and female mockingbirds. Furthermore, we observe that Madge has given this very pin to Katniss. And as we see the author has chosen Madge, which is Greek for pearl. Perl symbolizes knowledge, wisdom and it also symbolizes god. In fact, the twelve gates of New Jerusalem are made of pearls; may this be a symbol for the 12 districts? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Katniss are good with arrows, when she is named after an arrow shaped green plant. Rues death has strongly affected Katniss’s feeling. She surrounded Rue with white flowers, which symbolize Katniss’s rebellion and anger against the Capitol. By burying her, she showed everyone that Rue was a human being and she deserved to be buried. It’s also a rebellion act, because she is supposed to celebrate another tributes fall, but instead Katniss mourn her death.
By using the first person narration the author succeed in the following: 1.The author brings the addressee closer to the addressor, Katniss, and makes the reader identify all her characteristics, and share all her emotions, thoughts and the addressee gradually gets involved in the story. In our book the addressor is Katniss, the heroine of the story. She is the center of the novel; the story is basically about her, and her experiences. This makes her the protagonist. 2.With Katniss as our main character and narrator, the addressee gets insights. Writing the novel using 3rd person narration, would only describe what she/he has seen others experiences. It has to be named that Katniss has several roles in the novel. As described above, she is a narrator, main character and protagonist. Katniss only describes her own thoughts and experiences, and does not interfere in to the other characters experiences and thoughts, that makes her limited. Beside Katniss as our heroine in the novel, we also find Peeta that is with Katniss from the beginning to the end. This makes him one of our major characters in the novel. On the other hand we find Rue that only appears to point out Katniss’s protection instinct, this makes her a minor character. There are two aspects in the novel, the first one that makes the story real is related to the way of narrating. The addressor does not describe anything but his/her emotions, thoughts and actions. This gives the addressee a wide space of imagination, and gets to know some of the characters in his/her own way and perceives the rest. The second one recalls the misuse of power that actually has been an issue all along the history, which is the theme of the novel. The other side of this second aspect sheds light on the post-apocalyptic part of the novel.
Behind the novel
The author was inspired by the Greek myth about Theseus and the Minotaur. Androgeus son of king Minos was killed by the Athenians, so king Minos decided to take revenge. He forced Ageus, king of Athens, to sacrifice 7 young girls and 7 young boys that were drawn by lots each seventh year. This is the same act that the capitol did after the rebellion act of district 13. They were going to show power, and take revenge. They also invented a new event where they sent 12 young girls and 12 young boys each year to fight. These are called tributes, which means “a honored person” from the capitols point of view, but from the districts point of view; it means a sacrifice, which is the same word that is used in the myth. The tributes were sent to the capitol, just like the Athenians were sent to Crete to fight or to be eaten by the Minotaur (the Minotaur is a half human half bull creature) . At the third sacrifice Theseus, prince of Athens, volunteers as a victim. He had plans of killing the Minotaur, and promised his father to put up the white sail if he was alive, if not the crew would put up a black sail. Theseus killed the Minotaur and saved the Athenians. He was so happy that he forgot to put up the white sail. His father was so sad that he committed suicide. Hence, the tight analogy between the novel and the myth in many elements. As we know, Katniss volunteers as a tribute to take her sisters place, compared to Theseus that volunteered for his people. We recall the signs that Katniss and Rue used in the woods to communicate discretely, that led to rues death. We find some similarities in the myth when Theseus forgets to put up the white sail, which led to his father’s death.
The approach that the author has taken to narrate the story, made the novel very attractive and the suspense was present from the beginning to the end. This has forced me to do a deep research on the background of the author, and the story as well. During this process I had to do more study about the Greek myth that the author was inspired by. I would like to point out that the novel’s analogy is not only limited toward the Greek myth, but it can also be applied to the whole human history. I think that these types of novels closely reflect the real world situation, despite the characters are surreal. I admired the novel, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the propagation of the old history on the new history and vice versa.