The Hero’s Journey in the Hunger Games
In our lecture with Dr. Mazeroff, we got to look at The Hunger Games from a more psychological approach and from the idea of the Hero’s Journey. He briefly talked about Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, who developed the Hero’s Journey. Jung started its development by studying fairy tales, myths, national epics, and more. Then, we went over the main steps of the Hero’s Journey – the departure, initiation, and the return. At each stage, there are various decisions that people can make to propel their story forward. They can decide to work with the other people in the tale, make allies, refuse to move forward, get stuck, or even fail on their journey. We went over some of the other possible elements, and then we applied the Hero’s Journey to The Hunger Games.
“…the hero is symbolical of that divine creative and redemptive image which is hidden
in us all, only waiting to be known and rendered into life” – Joseph Campbell
One of the first points that got brought up was whether or not Katniss was actually a hero. In my opinion, she definitely is, although she has trouble throughout the story. However, there are other heroes who face their own journey through the books; including: Peeta, Prim, and more. Nevertheless, we did focus primarily on Katniss as the main character of the story. She goes through most of the stages of the Hero’s Journey, and in some cases, she has to face the stage several times.
The first stage of the Hero’s Journey is the Departure. Katniss entered her journey the moment she volunteered to take Prim’s place as the tribute from District 12. The Departure stage of a Hero’s Journey includes the following steps: the call to adventure, self-awakening, crossing the threshold, and more. She answers the call by volunteering, although she does not know the consequences of her actions right away. She also answers the call later in the story when she agrees to be the Mockingjay, even though she initially refused. The first image of crossing the threshold occurred when she is going into the Capitol, and again as she is rising into the arena. Her participation in the 74th and 75th Hunger Games represents her time in the Belly of the Whale.
Entering the Games
The second stage of the Hero’s Journey is the initiation, which includes the road of trials, apotheosis, the ultimate boon, and more. Katniss faces a series of different trials while she is in the Games. She is forced to defend herself to the point of having to kill other people in order to survive. She forms friendships and alliances in this phase, in the first Games with Peeta and then Rue; in the second Games with Peeta, Finnick, Mags, Beetee, Wiress, and Johanna. While she is reluctant to have the allies in the second Games, they repeatedly help her survive. Katniss is driven through the road of trials by her desire to get home for her family, because she takes care of them. Atonement for the Father is another major step, she has to take care of her family because of the death of her father. In the Apotheosis stage, the hero moves beyond their self to success. Her moment of clarity occurs when she pulls out the berries as a potential way to survive. At this point in the heroes journey is the ultimate boon; the winning of the game and the ability to go home should have offered her that. However, instead she is thrust back into the Games because of her decisions along the way.
The Return after the 74th Hunger Games
The third stage is the Return. For Katniss, her initial return to District 12 is happy; but she is confused about her life with Peeta and she is forced back into a bad situation when she is informed that if she and Peeta don’t convince the world that they are in love, her family is in danger. The 75th Hunger Games and the rebellion started another cycle through the Heroes Journey for Katniss and many other people she knows. A lot of people fail their journey, or never return home. Prim and Finnick are both killed and Gale and her mother never return to District 12. Her mother refuses to return in Mockingjay because of the painful memories that returning would evoke. Katniss needs help to return after the war, she is forced to return because of her exile from the Capitol. In my opinion, she does eventually master the two worlds (another stage), when she and Peeta are able to create a decent life in District 12, even though they both still have emotional and physical scars from the rebellion.