The World of the Hunger Games: Final Blog

Throughout this semester of The World of The Hunger Games SIS, we’ve gotten to study the trilogy in detail and relate it to different areas of study including:

History: Gladiators & Greek Mythology

Literature: Dystopian Literature

Politics: Totalitarian regimes

Music: Music and the Appalachia

Sociology: Gender and Romance

Religion & Philosophy: Apocalypse & The Nature of Evil

(Among others)

By studying the Hunger Games through these disciplines, we’ve had the opportunity to challenge our understanding of the trilogy and relate to the real world. The material covered was interesting, intriguing, fascinating and challenging. It was insightful and encouraged us to look at the world differently in terms of the trilogy as well as our reality.

By looking at the history, current reality and politics related to the Hunger Games trilogy, we made connection with the real world, realizing that the horrific events taken place on the Hunger Games are not too far from reality, and what we see as horrifying is in fact possible human behavior.

In addition, The Hunger Games trilogy encourages us to challenge gender and romance stereotypes by analyzing the way these are challenged in the story. Similarly, we analyzed the apocalypse and the nature of evil, which challenges our current behavior in relation to the environment and warfare as well as how we interpret “evil” both in the story of The Hunger Games and in our existing world by interpreting our own behavior.

Furthermore, we analyzed art and culture in the trilogy, and how these relate to society in both the Capitol and District 12 through fashion and music. This theme was also compared to our social reality in terms of how fashion defines our culture and how music impacts our reality and struggles, specifically as compared to the Appalachia.

Overall, the course was challenging and interesting. I personally, spent a significant amount of time reading the required material so that I could interpret and understand in depth The Hunger Games trilogy as it compares to the real world.

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Evil

Terrible acts are carried out in the world of the Hunger Games, a world in which forcing children to fight each other to the death is entertainment. This is the ultimate act of evil. However, this series is full of torture, murder and no remorse, but as Dr. Baron points out, there’s a difference between a act of evil and an evil person. In that case, what exactly is evil?

Philosophy responds this question in four theories of good, which would determine evil by its contradiction:

  • Utility: the right action is the one that maximizes utility, the better good for the most people. It looks at the greatest balance of pleasure (happiness), the many benefit, or it minimizes the pain for most.

Coin sending the Prim to the front line, causing her death on purpose is an act of evil because she is only benefitting herself by this action with her goal being causing great pain to Katniss, making Snow look even more horrible in the eyes of Panem and making herself appear more righteous.

  • Deontology (Duty): The morality right action is independent of consequences and focuses on duties and obligations. You treat other like they would like to be threated, and you never do anything you would never approve of others doing in the same situation.

Snow and the people of the Capitol sending the children of the Districts to the Hunger Games is an act of evil because it is casing suffering that nobody would one and that they wouldn’t allow for their children.

  • Virtue Ethics: focuses on virtues that make up a good person. The golden mean is actions, feelings and an appropriate response to these.

Katniss demonstrates to be a good person by volunteering for Prim in an act of courage, no fear or recklessness.

  • Care Ethics: focuses on making decisions that are based on caring for others (a caring bond between people)

Katniss caring for Rue in the arena.

In addition to Dr. Baron’s explanation of good vs. evil, author Gresh exposes her thoughts on the theme of evil in the Hunger Games. She explains that President Snow is responsible for his actions as well as the people from the Capitol, yet they don’t take responsibility for their own conduct and acts of evil, which demonstrates evil. At explaining evil, Gresh discusses its origin in religion as well as psychological/genetic factors. President Snow would be considered a psychopath due to specific traits and behaviors:

  • He’s an egomaniac.
  • He doesn’t have compassion for others.
  • He doesn’t feel empathy, remorse of feelings of guilt.
  • He meticulously plans torture and killings.
  • He is manipulative and a chronic liar.
  • He is superficially charming and personable.
  • He has an inflated sense of self-worth.
  • He is very good at faking intimacy and compassion.
  • He is callous and accepts no responsibility for his actions.
  • He is a control freak and sadistic.
  • He is sexually promiscuous by selling others for sexual purposes.
  • He preys on others.
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Gender and Romance in The Hunger Games

In The Hunger Games the conventional ideals of gender roles and romance are challenged. Throughout the trilogy we notice that Katniss performs what we currently consider male roles in our society. She’s a hunter, a leader and provider. Also, both men and women in the Capitol are equally preoccupied by image, makeup and fashion. Dr. Raley’s explains in extend how the trilogy portrays these challenges of gender and romance.

Katniss herself shows a contradiction in what we know to be feminine characteristics. She is overall more masculine in the context of our society’s ideas of masculinity vs. femininity

Katniss:

Masculine:

  • Protector
  • Provider
  • Hunter
  • Leader
  • Strong
  • Anger vs. sadness
  • Emotionally unavailable

Feminine:

  • Dresses
  • Quite
  • Caretaker (sister)
  • Small
  • Long Hair

Peeta, who portrays a more “feminine” character, can contrast these characteristics.

Peeta:

  • Beaker/ decorator
  • Emotional
  • Charming
  • Sexually Appealing
  • Caretaker (in a more nurturing kind of way)
  • Cares about the relationship

In addition, these differences in terms of gender are also viewed in the romance of the trilogy. First of all, Katniss seems to be completely asexual throughout the trilogy, even when she is clearly feeling something for the men in her life, physical attraction seems to be far from her motivations. Moreover, we notice a shift in romanticism in the Hunger Games as we look at Peeta and Katniss’ relationship. While Katniss for the most part fakes her feeling (something that we mostly attribute to men) we know that Peeta cares. He is the one who shows intense feelings for her. He is emotional, nurturing and the one willing to sacrifice everything for love.

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The Hunger Games, Music and The Appalachia

In the world of the Hunger Games, music and dance form a crucial part of District 12’s culture. Demonstrating this, throughout the books, Katniss introduces three songs “Deep in the Meadow” “The Valley Song” and “The Hanging Tree,” and also in Mockingjay, Katniss mentions that for being the smallest district, they sure know how to dance. These songs hold symbolism and some of the overall themes of the trilogy. In general, the writer’s inspiration could have originated from the fact that the area of District 12 is what we know as the Appalachia. This area is currently and historically known for its unique musical tendencies, which can be compared to Katniss’ district.

As explained by Mr. Walt Michael, The Appalachia is a region of unique history terrain and culture. Specially, it is a region of extreme struggle. The Appalachian Mountains are known for coal mining, and soon after these activities began, the area was known for the danger and exploitation involved in them. Moreover, historically, it was home for Natives Americans, slaves of all races, African Americans dedicated to the construction of railroad and Easter Europeans escaping war and inequality, which explains the multicultural background of the region and also the reasons for this people to take on the job of coal mining. They were the least privileged, the most in need for the job. Also, the terrain of the area made it almost impossible for them to survive on much else such as farming.

The music in the Appalachia is a result of a multicultural mixture of sound and traditions. Moreover, it is the result of the struggle known by these people. For instance, a typical song from this region is a valet, a song that tells a story. These stories represent real events or aspects of life in the Appalachia, much like the songs in The Hunger Games.

Deep in the Meadow

Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your eyes
And when they open, the sun will rise

Here it’s safe, and here it’s warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet–
–and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.

Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when again it’s morning, they’ll wash away

Here it’s safe, and here it’s warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet–
– and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.

Like in Deep in the Meadow, The songs we are introduced to by Katniss represent something related to the life in District 12. Deep in Meadow in particular makes reference to a different world, a better one. It is about a world in which children don’t starve to death or a sent to die in the arena, one in which everyone is safe from harm and pain.

The lyrics of this song are easy and calming, as a lullaby. It is sung by Katniss when Rue is dying, giving her safety and peacefulness in her last breathes. Also, Katniss remembers these lyrics in Catching Fire in relation to Peeta, his kisses and sacrifices. Lastly, the symbolism of the meadow as a safe heaven is seen in the epilogue of the trilogy. Katniss and Peeta’s children are playing in the meadow, which was once a graveyard, yet with time, it bloomed. Panem was not the place it was before, and people were healing from the suffering. The world was a place closer to the one that this song illustrates. It isn’t perfect because after all, deep down the meadow is a graveyard. However, it is better and in the mind of Katniss’ children, it is that place Deep in the Meadow represents.

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Images URL

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TOTALITARIANISM

TOTALITARIAN REGIMES TODAY:

A totalitarian regime is a government in which every aspect is controlled. The everyday lives of the citizens are controlled, dictated usually by oppression or fear, usually both. However, how is it that in the modern world we still have totalitarian regimes? These regimes are usually supported by the people, or at the very least not opposed by them. Both Gesh and Pharr & Clark explain the reasons why. These governments usually rise out of instability. They exercise the use of propaganda and extreme oppression. First, they keep the citizens ignorant to the outside world, to something different and better, art and education, which are tools against these types of government. Also, they indoctrinate a paradigm; a way of thinking that will maintain the citizens in line. Moreover, the second most important tool on a totalitarian is politics of scarcity. They control resources and supply, starve their people, dehumanize them to the point in which they are too occupied fending for themselves and, more importantly, the oppressed have been divided.

WHAT MAKES A TOTALITARIAN GOVERNMENT:

As explained by Pharr & Clark, a totalitarian government in one in which antidemocratic actions are taken, the politics and economics of the nation are ruled by an elite, mass media is completely controlled by this elite, military forces and weapons are present within the nation and policy of violence and terror against suspected subversives is implemented.

CHARACTERISTICS/FEATURES OF THESE REGIMES:

A totalitarian regime usually comprises the following features:

  • “Dissent is betrayal,” no freedom of speech, and indication of opposition is severally punished
  • Taking advantage of the natural fears of the people (by the government) to maintain the regime
  • Popular elitism and extreme oppression/ control of submissive citizens.
  • Extreme regulations and inequality
  • Dehumanization, torture and crimes against humanity
  • People are disposable in order to maintain leadership
  • “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”
  • Censored/ controlled information
  • Scarcity of resources, arts and information (education)
  • No civil liberty, human freedom or culture
  • Government harassment
  • Civil privacy ignored
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BLOG REFLEXION

  • Becky’s, Nikki’s and Amanda’s blogs are Aesthetically inviting. They are concise and organized and use themes and images that positively attract readers.

Becky:

  • Dynamic Images
  • Interesting titles
  • Organization in relation to the images and content.
  • Concise content

Nikki:

  • Awesome purple theme
  • Related images
  • concise content
  • Looks organized

Amanda:

  • Great theme and wallpaper
  • Complementary and interesting use of color in the theme
  • Inviting
  • Dynamic images, related to content and organized
  • Specific title
  • Concise content

The best of Becky’s blog:

  • Content is personalized
  • Titles are creative
  • Images are Dynamic

The best of Nikki’s blog:

  • Purple theme
  • Concise and specific content
  • Different images (in a good way. They are funny, interesting and related to the topic)

The best of Amanda’s blog:

  • Theme (wallpaper and colors)
  • Images (dynamic and interesting)
  • Overall organization

The Hunger Games Trilogy: A Work of Dystopian Fiction

Dystopias, as explained by Dr. Carpenter, are thought as the antithesis of utopias, and often, utopias gone wrong. Henthorne’s “Dystopia with a Difference” further describes dystopian fiction as political explorations of dreadful alternative worlds in which crucial social, political and/or environmental issues affect the everyday lives of the population.

The Hunger Games trilogy is often described as dystopian fiction, but what exactly makes the world of the Hunger Games a Dystopia?

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Dr. Carpenter introduced a series of criteria to answer this question:

  • Dystopias are attempted Utopias gone horribly wrong.

Panem is a nation created out of catastrophe and intended to be a harmonious country in which humanity could survive and thrive after wars and natural disasters ended with the world as we know it. However, it ended up being a world of extreme inequality, oppression and one in which children fighting each other to death is entertainment.

  • Dystopian societies value stability above all else.

After a time of destruction, stability is valued in Panem. However, in dystopias, it is usually the result of a negative trade off. Technically, there is stability in Panem, no wars or conflicts of any kind; however, the trade off is oppression, social separation, starvation and sending your children to die in an arena.

  • Dystopian societies serve the interests of a particular group.

A hierarchy of inequality is one of the most present themes in the trilogy. While the people in the districts suffer and starve, Capitol citizens are showered in the luxuries acquired by exploiting the rest of the nation.

  • Dystopias are not written in a vacuum. They reflect contemporary cultural problem.
  • Environmental issues
  • Class stratification; poverty, starvation and consumerism
  • Politics at home, through time and around the world
  • Mass media, reality TV and media control
  • Dystopias frequently call our attention to ways in which we may already live in a dystopia, related to the previews point.
  • We live in a society in which mass media and reality TV are largely integrated, vastly controlled and biased, and working to shape our perception of the world.
  • Politics shape our daily lives, yet we often turn a blind eye, and globally speaking, current political conflicts are abhorrent.
  • Class stratification is a present issue in our society as inequality widens, progressively expanding the gap between rich and poor.
  • Most of us take for grated our next meal while others are starving, and similar to the Capitol, material excess, in the form of consumerism, has become part of our culture.
  • Climate change plus other environmental issues are currently a problem, and instead of fixing them we have, and still are, mostly contributing to them.
  • Dystopian societies often involve internalizing of propaganda (to the point that is not recognized as propaganda)

In Panem, both the districts and the Capitol accept what has been imposed on them such as the Games, which remind the districts who is in power and keep them from unifying, and the social inequality, which they believe is ultimately for the best of the nation since each district has a crucial part to play in the system. These ideas are reinforced through the media through videos about the history of Panem, the Dark Days, District 13’s bombings and the Games themselves. Also they are reinforced through the teachings people receive both educationally and socially.

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Dr. Carpenter’s characteristics of Dystopias are complemented by Henthorne’s “Dystopia with a Difference,” in which he explains how the Hunger Games, is a dystopian fiction but a different kind. This difference comes with the fact that it is more literary in relation to classic dystopias. Henthorne describes it as “real and dynamic.” The world of the Hunger Games is experienced through the eyes of one character that, as the story progresses, develops and changes. For the most part, however, Henthorne’s illustration of the Hunger Games characterizes a dystopia fiction:

  • Social criticism: It is encountered in the Hunger Games we encounter, which is through Katniss experiences and often through subtly and/or emotional forces, which strongly shape a social reality in such a way that the reader will be able to empathize with.
  • Environmentalism: One of the principal messages in the Hunger Games, which relates to Dr. Carpenter’s point about dystopias reflecting current issues. The environment in the Hunger Games has been damaged by pollution and war, and, as Katniss, our knowledge about how that happened is limited, yet this significantly affects her in a daily basis. The decision we take now, will affect someone tomorrow and that might as well be someone like Katniss.
  • Mass Media and Social Control (Related to the last three points of Dr. Carpenter’s points): In the Hunger Games this is used to control people’s believes and behaviors. The trilogy also shows how people become passive and lose their agency, which is related to how we currently let the media shape our lives and how it blurs the lines between entertainment and reality.
  • Politics of Scarcity: in a society like Panem, strategies such as scarcity are used for control. In the Hunger Games, food supply is equal control, by keeping the population hungry, they unsure their power. Also, any hint of uprising resulted in control of resources. Lastly, scarcity divides people, keeping them form uniting against the biggest evil.
  • Oppression at the Hands of the Capitol: In Panem, oppression is everywhere, even In the Capitol; however, some are oblivious and others indifferent. This is related to Dr. Carpenter’s trade-off, and in our reality, to what happened in America after 9/11: oppression was permitted, the reality was best ignored.
  • District 13 mirroring the world we live in now: (Related to Dr. Carpenter’s fourth and fifth points). This was the most reliable piece of the trilogy to reality. It was similar to the events of 9/11 and other events of the recent past.
  • Social Change: The Hunger Games Trilogy doesn’t only exposes social criticism, it also promotes social change.