Write a reflection on one of the following 2 topics:
- Describe how the Hunger Games Trilogy can be seen as Dystopian fiction. Make sure to incorporate the required reading (Chapter 6 by Henthorne) and the lectures by our two guest speakers.
- What is the relationship to/ influence of text/ television on society? Make sure to include the reading (Chapter 5 by Henthorne) and the guest lecture in your reflection. Blog is due by Sunday, March 2, 8 p.m.
The Hunger Games fits well into the sub-genre of Dystopian fiction for a variety of different reasons. Our first speaker on Tuesday, Michelle Woshner, talked about sex as a means of control in Dystopian Societies. She applied it to The Hunger Games in a bunch of different ways. One of the most obvious was the character Finnick, who is turned into a Prostitute and a sex object by the Capitol. They used his care for his family as a means to control him and to force his compliance because they threatened to kill someone he cared about every time he disobeyed them. Another example of sex, or at least relationships, being used as a tool in Panem was through Katniss and Peeta trying to convince the districts that their decision with the berries was motivated solely by love for each other.
Finnick as a Sex Object
Another interesting point that Michelle brought up in her presentation was the value of stability in Dystopian societies. This parallel is quite apparent in The Hunger Games series, most of the decisions made by President Snow with regards to Katniss were aiming to retain stability and normalcy in the districts. For example, when Katniss was in the 74th Hunger Games, Snow warned Seneca Crane that giving the people a little hope was a powerful too, but too much hope and it would become a problem. Katniss also threatened the stability of Panem with her kindness to Rue, burying her and showing care for a district other than her own. When Katniss and Peeta threatened to take the berries, they were both permitted to live, but when revolutions began breaking out, Snow wanted Katniss killed as quickly as possible. Plutarch slowed him down by suggesting she needed to be killed in the right way, so that she would not become a martyr.
Balance of Hope and Fear, mixed with the Glamour of the Games
Another interesting point about the status of The Hunger Games as a Dystopian fiction was brought up in the article by Henthorne. The article brings up a couple of key points about Dystopian literature; environmental devastation, mass media and social control, the politics of scarcity, the desire for social change, and more. All of these ideas are incredibly pertinent to plot of The Hunger Games. For example, while the book does not dwell on the destruction of the environment, it is implied on multiple occasions that the environment is significantly degraded in many areas. Also, at one point, Katniss makes a comment about how the previous generations did not act with any care about the their future generations when they were dealing with the environment. Mass media is also a huge point in the Hunger Games. President Snow uses the spread of information to control the people, and he also controls what information is shared. He uses fear of the effects of the previous rebellion, and the alleged destruction of District 13 to keep people afraid of the Capitol so that they would not rebel. Further, the choice to force people to watch the Games kept them fearful, but also let them root for someone (the people from their districts). Another point that I found interesting in the article was the comments about scarcity. In the Capitol, there was so much excess that people were throwing up just so that they could eat more. However, in most of the Districts, food is hard to come by and people have to put their name into the Games for extra food. Essentially, the distribution of resources created the scarcity even though there was likely more than enough food to go around. This forces the people in the Districts to live by the rules if they want to have enough food to survive, even if they may not agree with the rules.
Panem: Consider How Much Food Went to the Capitol vs. 12
The second speaker, Becky Carpenter, talked about the eight main parts of a dystopian piece. Of those, two rules particularly stood out to me in regards to the relationship with The Hunger Games. Her fifth point talked about the three themes of dystopian literature – the gap between the haves and the have nots, environmental destruction, and technology. I have already talked about the environmental issues with the Henthrone article. The gap between the haves and the have nots was also addressed, but in a less obvious way. I talked before about the created scarcity on the part of the Capitol. However, it also is shown through the differences between the Career districts, which are also relatively well off, and the outlying districts. Further, the gap between the haves and the have nots is shown through the flashy, carefree attitudes of the people in the Capitol, whereas people in the Districts have to work their whole lives to barely survive.
As for the technology, that is a huge point in the series. For example, the medicine of the Capitol can save people from almost any kind of injury, but because the Districts do not have access to that technology, there are a lot more fatalities from simple injuries. Further, the Capitol uses technology to document peoples every move when it suits them, because they can use the information they gather to blackmail and threaten the people. For example, President Snow makes it very clear to her that he knows that she is fond of Gale because of their activities in the woods. They also use technology to find new ways to torture people in the Games, such as the mutated dogs, tracker jackers, and the use of jabberjays to repeat back screams.
Her eighth point talked about how the government controls things in Dystopian literature, and was followed with a question on why the Hunger Games were able to exist successfully for 75 years. In this series, President Snow uses a variety of the methods that I mentioned previously. For example, the illusion of scarcity, a balance of hope and fear, and threats and blackmail to keep public figures in line. However, there was also an element of control over the minds of the people, through control of information and creating situations in which they could not prosper. Many people in the series did not think there was anything to do except accept the Capitols rules until Katniss shows them that the Capitol can be challenged. Without that spark, who knows how many more Hunger Games would have occurred in Panem.
Pictures Found at DeviantArt.com