Author: has written 252 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

50 Responses

  1. AnneT
    AnneT May 5, 2012 at 5:16 pm |

    Can I throw out another theme that surfaces from the beginning?
    Responsibility.
    Does feeding someone make you responsible for them?
    Are we responsible to the people who feed us?

  2. superior olive
    superior olive May 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm |

    I actually read (well, re-read) up to chapter 6 before stopping. I know that re-reading is a little easier than the first go around, but I think it’s a good length. It roughly cuts Part 1 in half–was that on purpose? Because it works out well to do each part in two threads.

    One thing that struck me was how easily Katniss slid into the role tribute. Right up on stage, she’s already thinking of the people in other districts and in the Capitol who are watching her reactions, and schooling her expression so she doesn’t seem weak. And on the train with Peeta, she interprets most of his actions suspiciously, even though they’re probably not. It really shows how much poverty can colour your world view–when the whole deck is always stacked against you, it’s easy to believe that every individual and their every action is in some way to your detriment. It’s about trust, and how hard that can be to give, especially for Katniss who feels betrayed by her mother for her depression.

    And ever since that SNL skit with Sofia Vergara, I can only hear “Huuuuuuungeeeeer GAAAAAAAMES!” in her voice.

  3. Nice Hunger Games Trilogy Books photos

    [...] it will keep you cheering for Katniss and wondering what will come next. I highly recommend it!A few nice hunger games trilogy books images I found: Hunger Games Trilogy set calling to me Image b…/72051149@N00/6927466319">Ced Taken with [...]

  4. Suua P.
    Suua P. May 5, 2012 at 11:15 pm |

    I Love The Hunger Games! Katniss Everdeen is my favorite!

  5. StephanieH
    StephanieH May 6, 2012 at 8:13 am |

    Though it seems a bit of a leap at this point I can almost see Katniss becoming something of a christ-figure as she seems to have a tendency to sacrifice herself for others. She takes her sister’s place in the Games, but she has also been risking herself for her family by hunting for their food.

  6. D
    D May 6, 2012 at 8:36 am |

    I think in the first four chapters, we see Katniss doing an admirable job keeping her family afloat — the text harkens back to the responsibilities put on the shoulders of young people who were expected to contribute to their family’s welfare from days of yore. It reminds the reader that an adolescence filled with leisure and self-enrichment through education is a relatively new development. In fact, in this future, life has quickly diverted back into the old ways for many young people.

    While Katniss breaks the law to provide for her family, she does this mainly out of self and familial preservation. This far into the book she is not necessarily a subversive person in the broader sense. Her sphere of influence reaches her family and those at the Hob. I think it brings up too another facet of responsibility: if one is a talented person as Katniss is or jumping a little ahead, a charismatic leader as Peeta is, is there an intrinsic moral responsibility to influence society at large when there are social injustices? Or is keeping your head down and just helping the family enough?

    Just something to throw out there but I thought it was interesting how hardship in this society still results in a capitalist system in the Hob, and fair bartering and trading between residents of District 12. This is not a moralistic judgement but merely an observation that very little is given between the residents just because another person needs it. Peeta’s actions with the bread stand out because of this.

  7. Katerina Romanova
    Katerina Romanova May 6, 2012 at 8:41 am |

    One thing that impressed me is the way her relationship with Gale was introduced. They are obviously close and trust and support each other, and with two teenagers spending a lot of time alone, there is some sexual tension, but their relationship is neither openly romantic nor obviously in denial of the possibility of romance. She isn’t cagey and doesn’t avoid contemplating it – she analyses her relationship with Gale and comes to the conclusion that she’s not interested in him that way, at least at the moment. It’s a rather character-establishing moment because it fits with the rest of her mature, self-aware, self-secure behaviour, and because it allows the reader to breathe a sigh of relief about any hackneyed romance tumor plot along the lines of “she shyly comes to grips with the idea of romance and embraces her true feelings”.

  8. oxygengrrl
    oxygengrrl May 6, 2012 at 9:36 am |

    Effie Trinket is an interesting one. All light and surface most of the way through, terribly callous in some ways (being relieved that Katniss and Peeta don’t eat wtih their hands like the District 12 tributes from the previous year). But she’s the one who points out to them that Haymitch is the difference between life and death for them, so they shouldn’t be too amused by his incapacity to remain vertical.
    And then there’s Haymitch himself. By the end of Chapter 4, he’s gone from someone who’s laboriously drinking himself immune to the situation there’s in to someone who is thinking there may be a chance here, developing a grudging respect for Peeta and Katniss.
    From another standpoint, I’d point out that while we’re seeing everyone from Katniss’ viewpoint, she’s pretty straightforward about Effie and Haymitch–she’s judging them by what they say and their behavior, so we get to judge them with her and we don’t question her judgement. She’s reading Peeta in a pretty paranoid way, which is painful for her, but it makes perfect sense given the circumstances. He should be thinking about how to kill her. Though she herself is only thinking about how awful it would be if she had to kill him, and even that she’s skirting around in her own head. So we wonder if she’s right or wrong about him.

  9. oxygengrrl
    oxygengrrl May 6, 2012 at 9:37 am |

    Oh, and I vote for more than 4 chapters at a time. This will go very slowly at 4 chapters at a time, and the chapters are short.

  10. Lauren
    Lauren May 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

    I second the motion to read more than 4 chapters at once. Even my 1st year college students found the pace too slow with 4 at a time!

    Re-reading this, I remember being really irritated at Haymitch, but I think his presence tells us a whole history of the Games. He’s not proud or enhanced by his status as a victor, and in some ways, you could argue that being forced to mentor two fresh-faced youngsters who face imminent demise a pretty powerful form of torture. Really, even when you WIN the Games, you lose. The only people who consistently profit/benefit from the Games are those who do not have to participate in any way. (So, there’s no way to gain privilege in this hierarchy/hegemony — it’s brilliant and evil in that way).

  11. superior olive
    superior olive May 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm |

    How many times a week are we going to have a thread? If it’s only once, then yeah, I’d agree that 4 chapters at a time would be too slow. I was assuming there would be 2-3 threads a week.

    Re-reading this, I remember being really irritated at Haymitch, but I think his presence tells us a whole history of the Games. He’s not proud or enhanced by his status as a victor, and in some ways, you could argue that being forced to mentor two fresh-faced youngsters who face imminent demise a pretty powerful form of torture.

    I agree–both that he’s irritating and that as a character he’s a great storytelling tool to let us in on the history of the Games. Since he’s the only living victor from District 12, he’s had decades of watching children sent to their imminent deaths. And the humiliation and psychological torture isn’t just a once a year thing. Victors get a lifetime stipend and food luxuries as well as a free house. So Haymitch lives alone on an empty street, cut off from his neighbours because of his (relative) wealth and notoriety, knowing that every year after the Games he has to go back and face the District and parents and relatives of the Tributes as a failure. I actually thought Katniss’ reaction to him was, well, reactionary. Understandable, but short-sighted. Then again, she does have a lot on her mind.

  12. librarygoose
    librarygoose May 6, 2012 at 3:04 pm |

    I liked Haymitch in the beginning. I’m probably biased having seen the movie then read the book, I already felt bad because he had to train kids to die every year. He’s broken, and I have a soft spot for broken characters.

  13. Sarah Dalton
    Sarah Dalton May 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm |

    I assumed the pace was to accomodate slower readers/busy people without enough time to read every day, so as not to exclude them.If that was the reasoning, then it’s probably best to keep the current rate. First year college students are not a fair measure of reading speed if you want to welcome those who speak English as a second language, those with certain learning disabilities, those who recently became literate, or just folks who happen to read at a leisurely pace.

  14. oxygengrrl
    oxygengrrl May 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |

    Haymitch is probably the most complicated character at the start of the story. Can’t say more than that without being spoilery, I suppose. But it is actually pretty good storytelling, because we’re looking at him through Katniss’ eyes, and he starts off looking like just a drunk, and therefore an embarrassment to the District. It’s only when he says a few things and we give it some thought that we realize why he is the way he is, and that this makes perfect sense (as superior olive and librarygoose noted) considering what he’s been through and expected to keep going through.

  15. Jen Jameslyn
    Jen Jameslyn May 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

    I love the realization Katniss has at the very end of Chapter 4: if Peeta is trying to stay alive, he is also trying to kill her. Because that’s how the Games work: your survival is inextricably linked to someone else’s demise. And of course, that’s also how privilege and oppression work in the real world too, but it’s so very hard to get people (my students, for example) to realize this. In the context of the Games though, it’s very clear.
    I second everything that’s been said about Haymitch. But Effie also carries the history of the Games: she draws their names, as a representative of the Capitol, but she also travels with them, shares meals with them, and then, ultimately, watches them die each year. So how is it that she maintains her emotional distance? Is it that her privilege keeps her from recognizing the tributes’ humanity? Is it a mask? How does she understand her role, and theirs, in this system?

  16. Orlando
    Orlando May 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

    I wish all the pre-publicity, including the back of the book, didn’t say straight out that Katniss steps in to replace Prim. I would have liked to experience the impact of reading the moment when Prim’s name was called, without knowing it was coming.

  17. superior olive
    superior olive May 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm |

    Because that’s how the Games work: your survival is inextricably linked to someone else’s demise. And of course, that’s also how privilege and oppression work in the real world too, but it’s so very hard to get people (my students, for example) to realize this.

    I love how the Games serve as a metaphor for so many things–class and privilege and oppression. And yes, in some ways your gain is someone else’s loss: cheap t-shirts made in faraway places in sweatshops, and food grown and/or picked by exploited workers. The Capitol works that way too, and the HUnger Games just makes it literal. But at the same time that equation is a lie, a lie that benefits the top classes for the bottom to believe. I’ll leave it there so as not to spoil anything.

    i also saw the Games as a metaphor for the American military (and other countries, too, like here in Canada, but it’s an American book largely written with an American audience in mind). The military that, say, a senators son signs up for is not the one that someone from Flint, Michigan signs up for. The top districts, 1,2,and 4 (and sometimes 3?) have children that train for the games, competing in them is an honour, and every year it doesn’t matter whose name is pulled, a volunteer will step up. The Games are tilted right from the start against the poorest Districts. just like in the Military, those without access to education and opportunity growing up aren’t likely to get very high up the ranks.

  18. Skye
    Skye May 6, 2012 at 7:55 pm |

    One thing I liked about the first four chapters is Katniss allows herself to be, at times, dazzled by her first tastes of The Capitol’s riches: the state-of-the-art, luxurious train, the gourmet food. It’s a highly realistic reaction, and as a reader, I had to keep reminding myself the same things Katniss had to remind herself: that she and Peeta were being groomed to be sacrificed. Creepy.

  19. Yan
    Yan May 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm |

    I was struck — and this probably does come a bit from having read all the books through, too — by Katniss’ media literacy, playing to the cameras even just as a potential tribute. The Games happens once a year, it seems to be the only purported “entertainment” on the television, but it pervades all aspects of Panem culture. This is a child who has had the responsibility of her whole family since she was 11, but her thoughts are first to hide from/play to the cameras. Yet despite that, she has never considered what it means to be a victor of the games. And neither do we as readers, except through getting to know him.

    I do see Katniss as a rebel, though, in that she ignores rules that she feels to be unfair or unreasonable (like the ban on hunting). She both ignores the rules and plays the system (selling to the peacekeepers). But she has her own set of rules and morals, with her dedication to her family, her reciprocal agreement with Gale (that they will care for each other’s families), the way she spreads her trade around at the Hob.

    I will say that even the very first time I picked up the book, I was drawn in the very first chapter. Katniss is, if not exactly likeable, compelling from the very first. She is self-contained, but so tied to her community, with a clear sense of needing never to be in debt, not for herself.

  20. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm |

    I think in the first four chapters, we see Katniss doing an admirable job keeping her family afloat — the text harkens back to the responsibilities put on the shoulders of young people who were expected to contribute to their family’s welfare from days of yore.

    Uh, no. It still happens quite frequently in the present. In my job with Children’s Services, it’s not uncommon for a young man or woman to take up drug-dealing, thievery, and prostitution because either their parents worked to hard for too little money or their parents outright neglected their needs.

    This actually parallels with Katniss breaking the law in order to support her family. In the book, Katniss’s struggle is seen as noble, but the real kids that are out there going through a similar situation are seen as just “hoods” and “ghetto trash”.

  21. Clavis
    Clavis May 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm |

    If we must propose a couple name for Katniss and Peeta, may I suggest some innocuous alternatives: Katta, Keeta, Patniss? Although I kind of favour Katna/Keetna even though the combination isn’t quite transparent.

  22. Lauren
    Lauren May 7, 2012 at 6:25 am |

    First year college students are not a fair measure of reading speed if you want to welcome those who speak English as a second language, those with certain learning disabilities, those who recently became literate, or just folks who happen to read at a leisurely pace.

    You’re making a lot of assumptions about my 1st generation, reluctant reader, student-parent classroom. I think they’re a pretty good barometer for how quickly one can move through these dynamic texts. I also think a book club spread out over more than 4 weeks will peter out (at this rate, we won’t be in book 2 until July). IMO/just a suggestion.

    One thing I liked about the first four chapters is Katniss allows herself to be, at times, dazzled by her first tastes of The Capitol’s riches: the state-of-the-art, luxurious train, the gourmet food. It’s a highly realistic reaction, and as a reader, I had to keep reminding myself the same things Katniss had to remind herself: that she and Peeta were being groomed to be sacrificed. Creepy.

    Yes! I wonder how often tributes were seduced by these offerings in the past.

  23. Beaula
    Beaula May 7, 2012 at 7:37 am |

    I watched the movie first and than read the books (4x in 3 weeks!) and one thing I noticed and am curious about is how they portray Peeta as weaker in the movie than in the book. Such as the incident with Haymitch, we see him knocking his drink and getting punched in return, while in the movie that scene is largely katniss’. Whereas Gale is portrayed accurately, thoughts?

  24. Beaula
    Beaula May 7, 2012 at 7:41 am |

    e. Really, even when you WIN the Games, you lose. The only people who consistently profit/benefit from the Games are those who do not have to participate in any way. (So, there’s no way to gain privilege in this hierarchy/hegemony — it’s brilliant and evil in that way.

    I feel like that’s not true, victors can be real winners, just the ones from districts 1,2 and 4. The ones who are designed to be winners. The victors that end up losing are from outside those districts, like Haymitch.

  25. oxygengrrl
    oxygengrrl May 7, 2012 at 8:05 am |

    @Lauren #22, wondering how often tributes were seduced by the food and luxury: Man, why wouldn’t you be? It’s all one extended last meal. You’re very very probably going to die, but you get a bit of comfort before it happens. Might as well enjoy the stew.

  26. oxygengrrl
    oxygengrrl May 7, 2012 at 8:10 am |

    Oh, and I just want to make one very obvious point (obvious because I think it’s why we’re having this chat on a feminist blog). This is a pretty darn feminist text. The society they live in is not entirely ungendered (it seems like it’s men, not women, working in the mines in District 12, at least), and it’s certainly oppressive, but the characters show no signs whatsoever of thinking biology is destiny, for themselves or for others. It’s not unique to these books or anything, but in part because there are so many younger people reading them, I just think it’s worth noting and applauding.

  27. miss_ada
    miss_ada May 7, 2012 at 8:32 am |

    What struck me while reading the first part of book one: nobody ever doubts the concept of killing the other participants at all [every notion of "survival" must be grounded on killing others]. Gale is especially hard in this, telling katniss “it’s just hunting” and asking her where’s the difference in hunting people. And she muses: “The awful thing is that if i can forget they’re people, it will be no different at all”.
    And from then on, Katniss wonders and thinks about what it mean to kill Peeta (=someone you know), but not so much that she has to kill “no matter whom”.
    Yes, self-preservation is a strong motivator in human behaviour, and they are all brainwashed into accepting the Games as part of their lives; but I wondered that no participant ever made the ultimate sacrifice and just would stand there and decline to use the weapons and/or his/her hands to kill someone ?
    [Yes, i know: there wouldn't be a story when katniss would be that person; but to my inner pacifist, the whole premise "kill to survive" was treated rather non-chalantly ?]

  28. Angel H.
    Angel H. May 7, 2012 at 9:30 am |

    I feel like that’s not true, victors can be real winners, just the ones from districts 1,2 and 4.

    Finnick

    [Fixed for vague Mockingjay spoilers. -C]

  29. AMM
    AMM May 7, 2012 at 9:52 am |

    I couldn’t help comparing what the tributes (and the children in that age group) go through in the story with what kids go through in our (USA) society. At least, the kids that I know about — white, middle- and professional-class.

    For one thing, there’s a real sense that you have to “win” or else you won’t have a life worth living. In high school, “winning” means getting into college, especially a “good” college, so SAT scores, extracurricular activities, etc., have a sort of life-or-death feeling about them. Since some of this stuff is competitive, there’s the sort of “allies and opponents” feeling that’s a little like Katniss’s and Peeta’s situation.

    For another, there’s the feeling I often have that most adults don’t really care that much about children for their own sake, but only how those children fit in with their own needs and fantasies. Kids are supposed to “perform” so the adults (parents, teachers, schools) can have bragging rights and one-up the other adults. Sort of like a dog show. And “dog show” is what I was thinking when reading about all the stuff between their arrival in Capitol and when the games actually started.

    On another note, I assumed that the name Panem was supposed to be an obvious reference to “panem et circenses,” but it seemed to me to be pretty heavy-handed. I mean, is there nothing else to the nation besides the Hunger Games?

    Finally, I couldn’t help doing some numbers. The book mentions something like 8,000 people assembling in the square in District 12, with the suggestion that this is the entire population of District 12. This is the population of a small town. If the other districts are around the same size, that makes for about 100,000 people in all the districts. Even assuming that Capitol has as big a population as all the districts put together, that’s not a lot of people, about the size of one medium-sized city, and this is supposed to be the entire population of what is now the USA. If nothing else, I wonder how so few people could support the technology they’re using. Or control a population that spread out, with any level of technology.

  30. Beaula
    Beaula May 7, 2012 at 10:10 am |

    True, but [thing we won't learn until later]. Also, since they are kept in total isolation from each other, they are easier to control. By not being allowed past e fence, they have no ideas of the life’s led in other districts

    [Fixed for vague Mockingjay spoiler. -C]

  31. Brennan
    Brennan May 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |

    As I was rereading, it occured to me to wonder how much of Haymitch’s belligerent drunk act is . . . really just an act. I believe he’s genuinely alcoholic, but some of his most obvious and public stunts (trying to hug Effie in front of the whole district, falling off the stage and passing out) seem to follow subtly subversive acts (disrespect by showing up late to the Reaping, challenging the Capitol through the cameras). He seems to realize that his quiet rebellion will just be squashed unless the powers that be see him as a pathetic drunk.

  32. AnneT
    AnneT May 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    Superior olive, I was wondering if it was just me that thought of “flyover country” was like the “career” districts. Better off, full of well-fed volunteers, but not exempt. [ps I think "flyover country" is an offensive term and yes I live there]
    Changing gears, I’m glad we’re talking abou Effie: my read is that she is horribly clueless, but maybe she’s cheerfully evil? Is she flaunting her wealth; does she believe the districts deserve their ongoing punishment?

  33. liz
    liz May 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm |

    Please don’t assume that District 12 has the same population as the other districts.

    I think that Katniss’s core traits are loyalty to her family and friends (and to some extent her district) and mistrust of anyone other than herself and perhaps Gale. She doesn’t let herself acknowledge that she can and does love people, because she doesn’t trust love.

  34. AMM
    AMM May 7, 2012 at 3:31 pm |

    What struck me while reading the first part of book one: nobody ever doubts the concept of killing the other participants at all

    Well, it’s pretty obvious that the people of District 12 doubt the whole concept of the games. It’s seen as one of the ways that Capitol oppresses them. They participate only because they are forced to. On the other hand, it’s an open question as to how they would feel if they thought their tributes had a chance of surviving.

    I wondered that no participant ever made the ultimate sacrifice and just would stand there and decline to use the weapons and/or his/her hands to kill someone ?

    Most of the scenarios I can think of would simply come across as stupidity or incompetence. Those who have made pacifist gestures work (e.g., Ghandi) have used them as a kind of political theater, using their intimate knowledge of their audience to create an ethical conflict in their minds. (Insert rant about “Barny the purple dinosaur” school of pacifism/civil disobedience/social activism.)

    No doubt there will be more to say later on….

  35. Jordan Taylor
    Jordan Taylor May 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm |

    What first interested me about the Hunger Games series was the much-promoted idea that Suzanne Collins’ trilogy is feminist. However, I haven’t found this to be the case for the first four chapters of the first book, nor does the situation seem to improve later on in the story (I don’t think that this could be considered a spoiler). Every adult female character in the first book is portrayed as extremely flawed, while the adult male characters largely escape similar scrutiny. The one exception, Haymitch Abernathy, is not a static character to the same degree as the adult female characters.

    Katniss Everdeen sees her mother as “blank and unreachable,” describes Effie Trinket as “maniacally upbeat,” and labels Peeta Mellark’s mother as a “witch.” Katniss’ ready condemnation of all adult women is in stark contrast to her adoration of her younger sister, Primrose Everdeen, and her sympathy towards a twelve-year-old female tribute whom she describes as being similar to Prim “in size and demeanor.” It is unclear whether Collins, when she wrote the book, was even aware of her dichotomization of youthful innocent females vs. corrupted older women. This stereotype is so pervasive that it’s practically the foundation of most of Disney’s narratives.

    Even if Collins is aware that her narrator’s analysis appears extremely distorted, whether or not the author is endorsing or condemning this worldview is left to the reader’s imagination. I am thoroughly confused as to why a sixteen-year-old teenage girl forced to fight other teenagers to the death would be considered an inspiration to women readers. Collins’ vision is certainly a far cry from the boldly subversive fairy tales of Angela Carter. To me at least, a female protagonist is not the only plot device necessary to make a book pro-woman. Since most women don’t fight for their rights on an individual level, with a bow and arrow, I find little feminist inspiration in the story of Katniss Everdeen.

  36. Carolyn
    Carolyn May 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm |

    One of the things I like best about Katniss is that she *isn’t* (yet, at least) a Ghandi or Christ figure, or even really revolutionary. She’s a survivor, and she breaks rules when she needs to, but not out of principle. I like when she explains how Gale gets mad at the Capitol but she doesn’t see the point. I’m looking forward to her growth as the book continues (I mean, I assume she’ll get more revolutionary or the books wouldn’t have any point to them).

    I think it’s much more realistic to have her as just trying to get by rather than all fired up to change the world. She has been beaten down, and she doesn’t have any reason to see a way out. So far, hope for her has been for very small but very important things: not starving, for example. I think that this is very relateable and makes a lot of sense. Many times the heroic things people do come from getting to a breaking point, not just being principled to start out with. This makes it seem like a teenager could come to the point of trying to change the world without naturally being an idealist, and I like that.

    On a side note, I randomly decided to buy the first book today as a treat, read the first 7 chapters, and then saw this when I went online! Lucky me.

  37. Aerin
    Aerin May 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm |

    On another note, I assumed that the name Panem was supposed to be an obvious reference to “panem et circenses,” but it seemed to me to be pretty heavy-handed. I mean, is there nothing else to the nation besides the Hunger Games?

    AMM, I didn’t make the “panem et circenses” connection until long after I read the book. I thought it was a shortening of “Panamerica” or something similar, signifying a future Pan-American Union.

  38. Katya
    Katya May 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm |

    “He’s not proud or enhanced by his status as a victor, and in some ways, you could argue that being forced to mentor two fresh-faced youngsters who face imminent demise a pretty powerful form of torture.”

    And his reaction when Peeta punches him is telling–he immediately takes an interest in the two and begins to act like a mentor. It’s as if he’s so worn down from watching doomed kids die every year that he doesn’t even bother to get involved, but when he sees that this year’s tributes might be a little more than just lambs to the slaughter, he decides to make an effort.

    I also noticed the fact that adult women are not so sympathetic in this book (although female children are generally positively portrayed). Katniss’s mother functionally abandoned her children (although by the time the story starts, she’s helping provide for her family through her apothecary work), Peeta’s mother is mean, Effie is some kind of horrible, and even the “feminine” appearance of the residents of the Capitol (fanciful hairstyles, bright colors, lots of makeup) is mocked. Katniss notices [Cinna], and I get the sense that both she and the author approve of this while looking down on the general plumage.

    Perhaps the lack of effective maternal figures is part of the critique of the society? Women are often portrayed as nurturing mothers, but in this world, women don’t nurture–they even participate in destroying children. Of course, men aren’t protecting children, either, even if some of them still manage to provide food. Adults are either helpless to protect their children, or they encourage or participate in killing them.

    [Fixed. -C]

  39. AnneT
    AnneT May 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

    Perhaps the lack of effective maternal figures is part of the critique of the society? Women are often portrayed as nurturing mothers, but in this world, women don’t nurture–they even participate in destroying children. Of course, men aren’t protecting children, either, even if some of them still manage to provide food. Adults are either helpless to protect their children, or they encourage or participate in killing them.

    I think it’s a critique not of women in particular but of the hopelessness of this society. People are not only poor and under constant surveillance, they are pitted against their neighbors and siblings in the reaping lottery. Which is why Katnisss doesn’t ever want to bring children into her world.

  40. oxygengrrl
    oxygengrrl May 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

    So, I actually think Katniss’ read of her mother reflects more on Katniss than it does on her mother. Katniss is not a reliable narrator–and she is a kid who is really angry at a parent for failing to protect her, and who idealizes the parent who died before he could fail her. This is pretty realistic. I’ve seen it in real life, anyway.
    I also think the problem with the excess in the capitol is not particularly gendered. These are people with little to do but adorn themselves (men and women). Katniss sees this very negatively because of her own background. Not really a shocker.
    At this stage (4 chapters in), very few people come off as truly sympathetic, including Katniss herself. Gale compares killing the other tributes to hunting. Peeta appears manipulative. No one except maybe Prim seems like a nice person. And she’s a frightened child.

  41. Brennan
    Brennan May 8, 2012 at 8:48 pm |

    It’s weird how artificial all of the class divisions seem. The districts have a large population that’s barely surviving and then a sort of bourgeois class that is clearly also very poor, but must seem wealthy in comparison. But more than that, it’s implied that there are richer districts and poorer districts. How does their economic system work, or pretend to work? Who decides that coal is worth less than, say, seafood, and how does this affect the quality of life in the districts? Obviously, the average wealth in the Capitol dwarfs that of even the richest District citizen. I guess this adds credence to Gale’s theory that the Capitol intentionally develops class divisions to keep the districts from uniting. Still, these are uncomfortable questions for a USian like me.

  42. Beaula
    Beaula May 9, 2012 at 5:17 am |

    While I do agree with you somewhat @jordanTaylor, if you think about what we know about katniss after 4 chapters, it is pretty feminist. She’s the head of her household, provider, she is mentally and physically strong, intelligent, calculating and easily able to analyze her relationships with people. How many other female characters are portrayed like this (unless they are evil, etc)?

    She’s extremely focused and is also a damaged, untrusting, lonely teenager. She’s learned to be unsympathetic after her mom’s depression and this is used to prevent her from getting close to her mom again. But, she isn’t some typical girl heroine who doesnt know who she is, or is so damaged she doesn’t love herself or anyone else. I want to say more but I can’t avoid spoilers!

  43. anna
    anna May 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |

    I will simply say I think Kale is the clear couple name winner for Gale/Katniss fans, and as for Katniss/Peeta, maybe we could go with last names? Mellever sounds nice.

    Anyway, back to the serious discussion: I wish there were more heroic female characters besides Katniss herself. It seems like there’s always one exceptional, amazing woman in these kinds of stories, and then the rest, while possibly nice, are generally meek and useless.

  44. Brennan
    Brennan May 10, 2012 at 9:22 am |

    Anyway, back to the serious discussion: I wish there were more heroic female characters besides Katniss herself. It seems like there’s always one exceptional, amazing woman in these kinds of stories, and then the rest, while possibly nice, are generally meek and useless.

    We’re still early in the trilogy. At this point, we’ve only glimpsed Rue and had passing mention of Johanna. Mags isn’t even on the radar yet. I don’t think that’s a fair criticism of the trilogy as a whole.

  45. Sarah Dalton
    Sarah Dalton May 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm |

    Lauren- you are quite right, I made a sweeping generalization, thank you for pointing that out.

  46. tigtog
    tigtog May 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm |

    Responding to a comment on the Chapters 5-9 thread because it was veering off-topic for that thread:

    #19 Jordan Taylor wrote:
    @ AnneT: The idea that a form of conscription would cause communities to turn against each other is not consistent with any history I’m familiar with; if anything, people turn against the government in such cases. Suspension of disbelief in this case is obviously dependent on what the reader’s null hypothesis/default assumption is: I believe that human beings only turn against each other if they have a reason to do so, and Collins does not establish a valid reason for the Districts to do so. If the author had instead created a scenario where the citizens were required to inform on each other – SS-style – for not acting sufficiently individualistic, then an atmosphere of hostility would be far more plausible. The argument of “Because totalitarianism!” simply doesn’t work for me if this argument entails ignoring the assumption that human beings are rational.

    We are told in Chapter 1 that there are SS-style informers, although they inform against the “individualistic” non-conformers rather than against those who do conform. Anyone could be an informer, therefore people are reserved around each other in general, working hard to keep their thoughts behind a mask of neutral expression.

    We are also told that minor infractions (as we would consider them) result in imprisonment or public executions, and also that the regime keeps food scarce enough so that committing some infractions is virtually required for survival, so that everybody is anxious about discovery and who can or cannot be trusted to not inform upon them. The regime deliberately fosters this mistrust by creating the conflict between the artificial scarcity and the harsh laws against poaching and black-marketeering, because people who don’t trust each other will be reluctant to plot rebellion.

    We are also told that in Chapter 2 that uprisings will result in total destruction, something that the Hunger Games exist to hammer home to the districts: that they cannot stop the Capitol taking away their children to kill or be killed, since rebellion is utterly futile unless they want to end up like District 13.

    If I lived in that situation, I would be very, very wary – which might look mistrustful and pretty hostile to anybody I didn’t know very very well,. For my own safety, the rational response would be keeping almost everything about myself as secret as possible and sharing things only with those closest to me. I would be very suspicious of most of my neighbours, even the ones that I wanted to like, because people who would never inform on others for greed might well do it at any time from fear if they were threatened by the authorities.

    It would of course be a horrible, dehumanising way to live. That’s what totalitarian regimes want.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog May 18, 2012 at 3:02 am | *

      OK, here we go again. In the apparently vain hope that discussing aspects of the book (the interactions between the people of District 12) that are only described in Chapters 1-4 might actually take place on the thread assigned to Chapters 1-4 (instead of cluttering up a thread discussing chapters which describe interactions between people in the Capitol), I’m again addressing Jordan Taylor’s argument, which has through sheer repetition become a little more coherent than in the quote above.

      In essence, the argument seems to be as follows:
      [Premise: Collins portrays an atmosphere of hostility in District 12 where the communities have turned against each other.]
      but
      [Objection: People living in poverty don't normally act with terrible hostility to each other.]
      therefore
      [Corollary: Collins is misrepresenting poor people as aggressively subhuman.]
      surely
      [Principle: Misrepresenting poor people as subhuman is wrong.]
      therefore
      [Conclusion: Social justice advocates shouldn't praise this book.]

      Many people have disagreed with Jordan’s argument, and she appears to misunderstand why. She is arguing with the dissenters as if we disagree with the Objection and the Principle above. I don’t think anybody disagrees with either.

      However, more than one person is disagreeing with the Premise and as a result, asserting that the Corollary does not follow. Given that we dispute the foundational Premise of Jordan’s argument, we also cannot accept her Corollary or her final Conclusion.

      Now, I’m perfectly happy to argue about whether or not Collins really is portraying an atmosphere of hostility as the primary form of interaction between the inhabitants of District 12. But I’m not going to concede any ground on Jordan’s Corollary or Conclusion until she shows, using examples directly from the text, exactly what interactions she perceives as constituting this purported “atmosphere of hostility”.

      I’ll start with my own Objections to the Premise (these are just 2, there’s many more):
      [Objection 1: The book portrays many examples of co-operative interaction between the inhabitants of District 12. There appears to be no hostility in these interactions.]
      [Objection 2: Instances of self-protective wariness against drawing the unwelcome attention of a harshly punitive regime do not strike me as "hostile" to others.]

Comments are closed.

The commenting period has expired for this post. If you wish to re-open the discussion, please do so in the latest Open Thread.