The Hunger Games: An Analysis

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The question of agency is one which is particularly loaded, not because its definition lacks of clarity, but rather because it is not a notion which can be simplified into arguing whether or not a character has agency. More often than not, a character is not entirely free to make whatever decision and act however they see fit, nor are they wholly prohibited from doing such things. Usually, they are free to act within the restriction imposed onto them by their society, and so the question shifts from “do they have agency?” to “how much agency do they have?”. Political philosopher Isaiah Berlin refers to this particular situation as negative liberalism, which describes the amount to which an individual is free to make their own decisions without …show more content…
When Peeta says that he wants to show that he’s “more than just a piece in their Games” (Collins, 142) he hints at a concept which completely escapes Katniss: that, much like different pieces in chess have different abilities, the tributes in the Hunger Games each have unique roles which they are meant to perform. After Peeta announces his alleged love for her, in order to calm her, Haymitch tells her that “Now [he] can say [she’s] a heartbreaker” (135). That being said, he doesn’t actually refer to her as a heartbreaker, which supports the notion that it is more important for her to appear a certain way than to actually fit the role, because what matters is not what she is but who they can project onto her. Another example of this is Glimmer, the girl from One, who is described by Katniss as being “sexy all the way” (125). In fact, Katniss goes as far as to say that “You can tell her mentor didn’t have any trouble coming up with an angle for her” (125). Despite this, however, it often seems as though Katniss herself is completely oblivious to the fact that many of her fellow tributes are performing in their roles. Though she is clearly aware of Glimmer’s performance and later on states that “everyone seems to be playing up some angle” (125), referring to Foxface as “sly and elusive” (125) and Cato as “a …show more content…
However, it must be considered that the two texts were written in very different times. While Victorian society often thought of curiosity to be a sin and that rules should be obeyed blindly, one of the goals The Hunger Games is to encourage its readers to question totalitarian authority; it is therefore perfectly natural that the protagonists should reflect the values of each society where their agency is concerned. In this way, the fact that, while both are limited by the rules of their storyworlds, the fact that Katniss Everdeen eventually transcends these rules is an indicator that the society in which it was written is much more progressive than the one in which Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was

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