“District 12… where you starve to death in safety.”
Volunteering for the Hunger Games in her sister’s place, Katniss Everdeen is one half of the two tributes from District 12 of Panem, where the coal mines were and the poorest district of all the twelve. Landing in the Capitol together with Peeta Mellark, the boy who saved her during her childhood and declared his love for her, both of them face the annual Hunger Games – a sadistic, almost-ritualistic game where children aged 12-18 from all twelve districts fight to the death in a contained arena, until there’s one last person standing.
Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire
In a word, Katniss is a survivalist. Having to grow up quickly, she sees to the survival of her mother and sister, regardless of what it took. Highly protective of her family, she is generally suspicious of others. With the exception of Gale and people of the Hob, she has a tendency to second-guess other people, which made it difficult to gain her trust. Despite that, she had a good heart – intent on keeping people alive in the Games, especially Rue and Peeta, towards the end of the book.
However, I noticed one thing about Katniss – a lack of a soul fire. Her character seemed to lean towards the reactionary, where her actions seemed like they were done not out of her own character, but out of reaction to the actions of others – her confusion about her true feelings about Peeta, her killing Cato out of mercy and at his request, her joining the games just so that her sister will not have to. While it can be argued that her reactions are with good intentions, it does seem like many of her actions were not out of her own decision, or choice, for the matter.
Peeta Mellark, the Cinder Maker
Almost the total opposite of Katniss, the only fire in Peeta’s life seemed to be the fires of the ovens he worked with. However, he shows wit and bravery with his survival skills in the Hunger Games arena. Very much like Katniss, he is protective of her, sacrificing a great deal in order to keep her alive, even if it meant getting outcast by the Career pack he managed to insert himself into.
What is noteworthy about Peeta is how he complements Katniss in terms of character. With Katniss constantly second guessing his actions almost through the entire trilogy, his actions were his choice, his own, geared towards his personal aims – loving Katniss, being his own person. Saying it himself, he said he wanted to play the games on his own terms, sending a message to the Capitol, saying that he was going to die as his individual self, not a pawn in the Capitol’s games.
Reflection & Denial…
The Hunger Games was created as a sadistic reminder to the rest of the Districts that the Capitol was in control, whether they liked it or not, and that they had no power to prevent the Capitol from wiping them out without warning.
Ironically, the Hunger Games was also the very place where the Capitol can see an ugly reflection of itself. While the rest of the Capitol celebrates and are entertained by the event of dying children, what lies in front of them are personifications of values they could only wish to have – endurance, courage, stealth, strength, the works – yet they hide behind their screens, in the comfort of their own homes, convincing themselves that sponsorship is all they can do.
From Katniss’s prep team, one can see that the people from the Capitol are not necessarily vindictive, merely ignorant – the personification of privilege. And this can be similar to many of us in a developed world – we may admire the courageous and the strong, but is it out of mere face value and entertainment? Or are we willing to put ourselves into their shoes and truly appreciate where they are coming from?
Style & Structure
The novel is told from a first person point of view, immersing the reader into the world of Panem through the eyes the narrator. As such, it is difficult to feel sympathy for the people in the Capitol – very much like how victims tell their stories to others. Apart from certain characters – Rue, Thresh, and Peeta – Katniss has little mercy nor sympathy for the rest of the tributes, demonizing the careers and casting tributes from lesser mentioned districts aside.
In the meantime
The Hunger Games (trilogy) is written by Suzanne Collins. To find out more about the book and its series, click here.