1. KEY FACTS: Title: THE HUNGER GAMES. Author: Suzanne Collins. Text Type: Novel. Genre: Dystopian Fiction. Date of Publication: September 2008. Narrator: Katniss Evergreen. Point of View: The story is told in the first-person and recounts the narrator’s personal history and experiences. The narrator is mainly objective, but on occasion imagines what the other characters may be feeling. Tone: Mainly, yet emotional. Tense: Present. Setting (Time): An indeterminate time and more than one hundred years into the future. Setting (Place): collapsed. Panem, the country created after the government of North America Protagonist: Katniss Evergreen. Major Conflict: Katniss must endure numerous deadly ordeals, navigate complex personal relationships, and learn to control how others perceive her in order to survive the Hunger Games. Themes: The inequality between rich and poor, Suffering as entertainment, The importance of appearance. Motifs: Fire, Defiance, Hunting. Symbols: Mockingjay, Panem, Katniss’s dresses. Foreshadowing: Katniss demonstrates her ability to hunt and forage in order to survive. Madge gives Katniss a mockingjay pin, Peeta excels at the camouflage station in training, Katniss saves the berries that killed Foxface. THEMES: 1. The Inequality between rich and poor: In Panem, wealth is concentrated in the hands of the wealthy, particularly those living in the Capitol and certain districts. The result is a huge disparity between the rich and the poor especially in the availability of food, where people in the poorer districts never have sufficient food. People living in District 12 (where Katniss lives), have to forage and barter for food on a daily basis; starvation is common. Katniss hunts illegally in the woods and beyond the borders of District 12 to feed her family. It appears that most people in District 12 cannot or do not know how to hunt and Katniss is able to barter her “kills”, with the local baker and providers from whom she obtains her rations. She learn from the baker’s son, Peeta that they cannot afford the breads they bake so they eat the leftover breads. When Kataniss arrives in the Capitol she is in awe of the lavish and abundant banquets and elaborately prepared dishes. It is here that she tastes hot chocolate for the first time (in her life)! An example of the inequality between the rich and the poor is depicted in the tesserae (lottery) system and the way that the tributes are selected for the Games. The lottery (called the reaping), by which the tributes are selected is supposed to be random but in reality those from the poorer districts are more likely to be chosen. If they win they are eligible for additional rations of food and oil. Children eligible for the Hunger Games may enter their name numerous times to receive the tesserae which increases their likelihood of being chosen. The rich tributes (who Katniss calls Career Tributes), have the advantage of being trained for the Games and are better fed and therefore, are physically bigger and stronger. It is an honour for them (the Career Tributes), to enter the Hunger Games whereas for the poorer tributes it is a death sentence. 2. 2. Suffering as Entertainment: The Hunger Games presents the suffering and tribulations of the tributes as entertainment which is voyeuristic in nature. The audience want to see the tributes who are essentially children battle and kill each other – this adds to the drama of the games. The Gamemakers wish for the Games to be gruesome as depicted by Cato’s slow and agonising death at the hands of the mutations i.e. he is not killed immediately but left to horrifically suffer before dying. The romance between Peeta and Katniss is another example of star-crossed lovers whom the audience expects will die therefore it is doomed. The Games is the equivalent to the televised sporting event; at time Katniss refers to the tributes as “players” when referring to previous Games. The Games resemble the gladiatorial games of Ancient Rome and current reality television, however the tributes are unwilling participates who can only win (if at all), by killing their opponents. Reality television presents people as commodities whose value is dependent on how much entertainment they provide. The result is a loss of their identity and objectification. 2. The Importance of Appearances: Throughout the novel Katniss and her team use external appearance (how she dresses, what she says, how she behaves), to control how people perceive her. At the reaping Katniss will not allow herself to cry and appear weak. At the Opening Ceremony there is much written about Katniss’s preparation and her outfit of synthetic flames; she is referred to as “the girl who was on fire”. Standing out is not just vanity but an attraction for sponsors who could provide critical supplies during the Games which would impact her survival strategy. Katniss’s most notable survival strategy is her romance with Peeta, however it is not entirely genuine on her end and does not have the same intensity that he has toward her. For the cameras and the viewers Katniss plays up the romance as Haymitch has advised because it will elicit more gifts from the sponsors than if they were just friends. It may also influence the Capitol to allow two tributes to be the ultimate winners rather than the customary one. Katniss’s act has a significant effect on both her and Peeta’s survival. Through these events the novel suggests that what we see on reality television is not reality and that appearances are as consequential as the truth. 3. MOTIFS: Fire: Fire plays different roles in the story but mainly it represents Katniss. Her first dress is covered in synthetic flames. After her high score Haymich says that they must have liked her ‘heat” and Cinna calls her ‘the girl who was on fire”, to refer to her character and temperament. During the Games her leg is hit by a fireball and Katniss thinks that the Gamemakers must be laughing at the “girl who was on fire”. Defiance: The story includes many acts of defiance despite the Capitol’s authoritarian control. Katniss and Gale’s illegal hunting in the woods as well as the Hon which was the black market in District 12. The gesture of respect the residents of District 12 offer Katniss after she volunteers as tribute is an act of defiance because it contradicts the behaviour that the Capitol wants. The mockingjay is a symbol of the Capitol’s failure. Peeta is defiant when he says that he wants to retain his identity and show the Capitol that he is not part of their Games. The most significant act of defiance is when Katniss decorates Rue’s body after her death. This is in contrast to the rule that tributes show no mercy for one another. Katniss and Peeta’s threat to suicide with the berries show that they will not accept the Games’ rules. 4. Hunting: Hunting appear numerous times in the story: the story begins with Katniss hunting for food beyond the boundaries of District 12 – she does this each day. She meets Gale whilst out hunting. Her stories about her father centre round hunting. Hunting is also a means of survival for Katniss therefore, it is a positive experience for her. However, during the Games hunting humans is traumatizing for her. Peeta refers to the Career Tributes as “hunting” when they are searching for others to kill. Therefore, in this context it is a negative experience. SYMBOLS: Mockingjays: It is a symbol of defiance. It has its origins in the failed attempt of the Capitol to spy on the rebellious districts. Katniss describes them as a “slap in the face of the Capitol”. The mockingjay pin which Madge Undersee gives to Katniss is an emblem of resistance. Later in the story the mockingjay becomes a link of communication between Rue and Katniss. When Rue dies Katniss decorates her with flowers as a means of memorizing her. Every time Katniss saw a mockingjay after Rue’s death it reminded her of her hatred of the Capitol and her desire to rebel against it and seek revenge for Rue. 5. Panem: It is the Latin word for “bread” and symbolizes a dystopian United States. Panem is given the similarity of Ancient Rome where Caesar quelled public dissent by providing people with much food and entertainment (gladiatorial games). In the Hunger Games the entertainment is mixed with reality television. Setting Panem in the current US and retaining the culture like the mining industry of Appalachia seen in District 12 draws a link between the two. However, whilst Caesar appeased the masses the people in the story are dissatisfied. The Games were started to remind the districts how powerless they are after their rebellion ended in defeat. The tributes are the children of these districts who are chosen to be killed. There is a huge shortage of bread which causes discontent in the districts and results in defiance. Katniss’ Dresses: Katniss’ dresses symbolize her spirit. Cinna’s first designer dress reflected the main industry of Katniss’ home district, coal mining. Since coal is burned to provide energy Cinna’s next design was a dress with synthetic flames. The subsequent dresses serve as outward representations of Katniss’ inner fire. Haymitch says that Katniss’s high score was because the Gamemakers liked her “heat”. Katniis believes that she was fireballed during the Games because she was the “girl who was on fire”. 6. Plot Overview: Katniss Everdeen awakens in District 12 on the day of the reaping which is when the tributes are chosen for the Hunger Games. Her sister Primrose (Prim), and her mother sleep nearby. Her father died in a mine explosion some years earlier. Katniss goes hunting (illegally), with her friend Gale in the nearby woods. At the reaping ceremony that evening the mayor gives a speech reminding them of the collapse of North America and the establishment of Panem. How a war ensued between the districts and the Capitol and how the Hunger Games were held each year as a reminder of the districts defeat and the victory of the Capitol. The female tribute is chosen (Prim), and Katniss immediately volunteers as her replacement. The male tribute is Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son who had given her bread years earlier when she was searching for food for her family in the garbage bins. Both board the train to the Capitol. Their mentor is the intoxicated Haymitch Abernathy. Katniss’s stylist Cinna, designs an outfit which has synthetic flames and she and Peeta are the favourites at the opening ceremony. The next day they attend the group training where they meet the tributes from the rich districts (called Career Tributes), because they are well-fed and welltrained. During the subsequent television interview Peeta reveals that he has had a crush on Katniss for many years. When the time comes for the Games to begin Katniss follows Haymitch’s instructions and runs away as far as she can before making camp. From her “perch” high up in the tree she sees a tribute light a fire and the Career tributes kill him. To her horror she sees Peeta with them. Katniss the searches for water and after walking for hours she finds a stream. Then and fire breaks out and a fireball grazes and injures her leg. Whilst Katniss seeks shelter in a tree she sees Ru on another branch. Rue pints to a nest of wasps and Katniss realizes that she must cut the branch (with the nest), and drop it onto the Career tributes below. She retrieves a bow and arrows from the dying tribute (stung by the wasps), while Peeta defends her from Cato. Katniss has been stung a few times and eventually loses consciousness in a ditch. Rue and Katniss become allies and they plan for Rue to light decoy fires while Katniss blows up the supplies at the Cornucopia. When Katniss does hear from Rue she searches for her and finds her just as she is being killed by a tribute from District 1. When Rue dies Katniss covers her body with flowers. Katniss is depressed and grief-stricken but hears the rule change that 2 survivors from one district may be declared the winners. She goes in search of Peeta and finds him badly wounded from the fight with Cato. She manages to get him to a cave and plays up the “romance” between her and Peeta by kissing him. Immediately there is a delivery of a pot of broth from Haymitch. Katniss realizes that if she maintains this “romance”, Haymitch and the sponsors will continue to supply her with the necessities for the survival. Another announcement declares that each tributes will find a desperately needed item at the Cornucopia, the next day. Peeta does not want Katniss to go because he thinks that she will be ambushed and killed but Katniss gives him a draft and Peeta fall asleep for an entire day giving her enough time to collect the items and return to the cave. 7. At the Cornucopia, Katniss tries to grab the bag marked District 12 but get into a fight with a tribute. Before she is killed Katniss is saved by Thresh who is repaying the debt of her friendship with Rue – his partner i.e. from the same district. Katniss escapes to the cave and injects Peeta with the medicine before passing out. During the ensuing days there is a downpour and Katniss’s romance with Peeta progresses. When the rain abates they go in search of supplies. Katniss leave Peeta in charge of foraging whilst she hunts. When she returns she notices that the berries which Peeta has collected are poisonous. Then they find the body of Foxface who has died from eating the poisonous berries (which Peeta stockpiled). There is an announcement that Thresh has been killed – there are now only 3 tributes left. It is time to find and kill Cato and end the Games. At the lake Cato comes rushing toward them but keeps running to escape the Mutations (engineered from the dead tributes into monsters by the Capitol)), who are intent on killing them all. She and Peeta manage to push Cato over the edge and he is attacked by the Mutations, however because of his body armour he remains alive and Katniss kills him to end his suffering. Then there is an announcement that there can only be one winner! Katniss and Peeta will not kill one another and decide to ingest the poison berries. There is another announcement declaring them the winners. They go back to the Training Centre and Haymitch warns Katniss that her life is in danger (as is her family and District 12), because of her stunt with the poison berries unless she can prove that she acted so because she was overcome with the fear that she would lose Peeta. At the final interview Katniss is able to convince the audience that she was beside herself and irrational during the episode with the berries. Haymitch congratulates her on her strategy and Peeta wonders what he means. Katniss explains the romance strategy and Peeta is shocked but holds her hand as they arrive back at District 12. 8. Chapter 1: Katniss Everdeen (the protagonist), awakens (on the day of the reaping), in her home in the Seam a part of District 12. It is a coal-mining area which is enclosed by a high fence which separates it from the woods where there is an abundant food source. However, hunting in the woods is illegal but necessary. Katniss sells and barters her “wares” at the Hob (black market). Katniss’s father has taught her to hunt before dying in a coal-mining explosion. Most people in the district do not have enough food. Katniss meets her friend Gale for late-night hunt. They discuss running away but this is impossible because they are the providers for their families. They sell their catch in exchange for salt and bread. Madge (the mayor’s daughter), is dressed for the reaping ceremony during which two tributes are chosen to represent the district. Gale becomes angry because of the injustice of the reaping process; rich children are less likely to be selected but poorer children are mainly chosen because they enter their names in exchange for a year’s supply of grain and oil hence the likelihood that they will be chosen. In the city square the mayor gives a speech about the history of the Hunger Games. Droughts, storms and rising seas have destroyed North America and the country of Panem was established. The districts rebellion against the Capitol and were defeated with district 13 completely obliterated. To punish the districts and remind them of their powerlessness the Hunger Games are held where a male and female tribute must fight to the death in an outdoor arena. The tribute who survives is the winner and he/she and their district receives extra food. Haymitch Abernathy is one (still living), of only two tributes to win from District 12. The first name drawn is Primrose Everdeen! 9. Chapter 2: Before Prim reaches the platform Katniss shouts that she will volunteer as tribute – she is commended for her altruism. The male tribute is Peeta Mellark, the baker’s son. She remembers his kindness of years ago after her father died and they were starving through lack of money and food. Katniss was foraging through the garbage bins when he gave her two burned loaves which his mother told him to give to the pigs. Peeta’s mother truck his cheek for his insolence. Chapter 3: Katniss is escorted to the Justice Building and left in a room. Her mother and Prim come to say goodbye and Katniss makes her mother promise that she will take care of Prim. Then the baker (with whom she trades squirrels), comes in – he gives her cookies and promises that he will ensure that Prim is well fed. Madges enters and gives Katniss a pin of a bird (mockingjay which the Capitol bred to spy on the rebels who in turn fed the Capitol false information via these birds), encircled by a gold ring. She promises to wear it in the arena. Lastly, Gale enters and he tells Katniss to find a bow and promises to feed her family. District 12 is a coalmining area in what was Appalachia and Capitol is where the R0ckies were. Haymitch is their mentor but he is drunk and incoherent. 10. Analysis: We meet the protagonist (16 year-old Katniss Everdeen), and the setting (it is dystopian), becomes clear. There are references to storms and rising sea levels which point to global warming as a cause for the demise of North America. The story is set sometime in the distant future. Panem, which replaces North America, is totalitarian and monitors the speech and behaviour of its people. It is merciless in its punishment and the Hunger Games is an example of this brutality. District 12 is a coalmining area and food shortages are common. Gale and Katniss’ fathers died in mine explosions, and so they have become the caretakers of their families. It is a poor region i.e. Appalachia is one of the poorest areas in current North America. The Capitol is wealthy and this contrast between rich and poor is a recurring theme throughout the novel.