Blog 7: The Hunger Games

Blog 7: In Chapter 16 of Mockingjay, Collins writes about District 12 “We may have been the smallest district in Panem, but we know how to dance.” Discuss the importance of music and dance in The Hunger Games compared to Appalachia. Make sure to talk about at least one of the 3 songs mentioned in the trilogy: “Deep in the Meadow,” “The Valley Song,” and “The Hanging Tree.”

In The Hunger Games, music and dance is portrayed as a major part of the culture of District 12, even though they spend the large majority of their time working and trying to make a living. Mining is an integral part of the history of Appalachia because it led to many jobs, but also to the destruction and eventual desertion of their land. The companies set up a system where the miners were not being paid enough to even pay back the company for their living expenses and they eventually became essentially slaves to the companies. When miners unionized, in an attempt to get fair pay and a way out of debt, the mining companies brought in more equipment in order to limit the number of people required to mine in Appalachia. This led to a severe shortage of jobs, more destructive mining practices, and more. Music and dance are a major component of the Appalachian culture, and it is a source of inspiration. Songs about mining, family, religion, and much more fill the air in a style that is fairly unique to the Appalachian region. Appalachian music expresses the idea of nature, healing, peace, and escape; but it also expresses poverty, struggle, and the harshness of the coal mining world contrasted with the beautiful landscape in some parts of Appalachia.

In District 12, working in the mines is one of the only ways people can even have a chance to feed their family. However, much like in Appalachia, music and dance help lighten their lives and give them reasons to hope. One of the primary songs in The Hunger Games series is called Deep in the Meadow, which is the song Katniss sang to Rue as she died.

Deep in the Meadow


This song is very reminiscent of the themes in Appalachian music because it talks about the beauty of nature and the peace that it offers. The song is beautiful, and also bittersweet as it is used as a dying lullaby. In the movie, the viewer can actually hear the lamentation as Katniss watches her only initial friend in the arena fade before her eyes, but the lyrics alone portray how sad she is and how much she hopes that Rue is moving to somewhere better.

The Valley Song also talks about the beauty that is present in nature, but there is a lot more to it as well. It also talks about love, loss, and moving on. This song has a special significance in the story, because Peeta tells Katniss that the first time he really noticed her was when the teacher asked if anyone knew “The Valley Song” and her hand shot straight up. The song is generally thought to reference Down in the Valley, a folk song from American and many different recording of this song have been made. 

“So, that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot up in the air. She stood you up on a stool and had you sign it for us. And I swear every bird outside the windows fell silent.” (pg. 301, The Hunger Games)


Down in the Valley

Down in the valley, the valley so low

Hang your head over, hear the wind blow

Hear the wind blow, dear, hear the wind blow;

Hang your head over, hear the wind blow.


Roses love sunshine, violets love dew,

Angels in Heaven know I love you,

Know I love you, dear, know I love you,

Angels in Heaven know I love you.


If you don’t love me, love whom you please,

Throw your arms ’round me, give my heart ease,

Give my heart ease, dear, give my heart ease,

Throw your arms ’round me, give my heart ease.


Build me a castle, forty feet high;

So I can see her as she rides by,

As she rides by, dear, as she rides by,

So I can see her as she rides by.


Write me a letter, ‘Send it by mail,

Send it in care of Birmingham Jail,

Birmingham Jail, love, Birmingham Jail,

Send it in care of Birmingham Jail.

The Hanging Tree is more reminiscent of a different kind of song prevalent in Appalachia – the ballad style. In Appalachian music, these songs often tell of folk tales and stories that talk about specific people in history, but they also teach lessons and offer insight into the history of this region.

The Hanging Tree


Are you, Are you

Coming to the tree

Where they strung up a man they say murdered three

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree


Are you, Are you

Coming to the tree

Where the dead man called out for his love to flee

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree


Are you, Are you

Coming to the tree

Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.


Are you, Are you

Coming to the tree

Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.

Strange things did happen here,

No stranger would it be,

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.


This particular song reminds me a lot of the story of John Hardy, which we heard about in class. He was a railroad worker who was hung because he killed another African American. According to the professor, thousands of people showed up to watch this gentleman hung for his crimes. While the main reason they are similar is the subject matter of hanging, there is also an air of tragedy to both songs because the men both wanted a better life.

Fan Created Version of the Hanging Tree

A Version of the John Hardy Murder Ballad

This song is also really significant to Katniss because her father taught her this song before he died in the mines. Her memory of it is very vivid, because her mother got very angry with them for singing it, as it was a forbidden song. However, when she sings the song in Mockingjay, it is a cathartic moment for her, and she continues to use music as a healing tool later in the book. 


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