The Hunger Games


Story Symbols and Themes

In The Hunger Games, the struggle for survival appears to be an overarching theme that shapes all of the lesser themes, motifs, and symbols in the novel. However, that view is somewhat shortsighted because the novel focuses on self-sacrifice almost as much as it focuses on the struggle for survival. It consistently sends a message that survival would be meaningless without people to make that survival meaningful.

Themes are the central topics or messages that the author is trying to convey. Collins has been very vocal about the idea that The Hunger Games is a war story, and therefore war is one of the themes of the novel. Other themes include poverty, classism, starvation, self-preservation, loss, love, and sacrifice.


Clearly, war is one of the central themes of the novel. Though the story opens a significant time period after some type of revolution destroyed the land that preceded Panem, the impact of that war is still felt clearly throughout the nation. There was a rebellion of some type, which, although never fully explained in the novel, seems to have been reminiscent of the Bolshevik Revolution, but without a victory by the people. There is the hint that part of the land was destroyed by some type of weapon of mass destruction, presumably a nuclear bomb. While the country is no longer at war, the lingering impact of that war is evident everywhere. The districts are essentially militarized zones where martial law is in effect. For example, though there are abundant food resources in the forests outside of District 12, the people are forbidden from leaving the district to hunt in the forest. If they try to escape, they will be hunted down, like the redheaded Avox girl was.

Likewise, war is a theme of the Games themselves. Many people believe that there are no winners in war, only a side that loses less than the other side. This idea of war certainly seems to be captured in the Games. By portraying Haymitch as a victor who has struggled with alcoholism since his return from his Hunger Games, Collins...

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Essays About The Hunger Games