Why America is hungry for the Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins holds up a mirror to American society
Published: Friday, April 6, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Modern American society curses the government for outrageous taxes, low minimum wage and high gas prices. Our disillusioned pondering allows us to believe that the government has jurisdiction over just about every unpleasant occurrence in our daily lives, regardless of whether or not it’s true. Our society is one of big talkers. We speak of government as if it was pulled out of an Ayn Rand book, constantly forgetting how good we actually have it.
But what if this government of ours was forcing us to sacrifice children every year to kill and be killed? In “The Hunger Games,” we are forced to take a look at this potential post-apocalyptic era and question whether or not the government-sponsored, society-reinforced murders taking place are ethical in standards of today’s rulings. The book is a thinly veiled attempt at reminding audiences that there is still something commendable about questioning the society in which you live.
The themes transpiring throughout the book are notions that will remain pertinent in any society led by government. Author Suzanne Collins incorporates very realistic themes that generate fears and anxieties prevalent to her multifaceted audience.
Power seems to be one of the most impacting functions within the story. The two most evident forms of power are the totalitarian government of Panem and the people of the Capitol (the wealth holders). Americans are also hesitant about trusting wealthy and grandiose politicians because of the intentions that seem to come with their lifestyle. Our population is genuinely interested and borderline obsessed with the distribution of money and power. Most recently, our society eagerly awaited the release of Mitt Romney’s tax statements, citing them as valuable knowledge.
Fashion and appearance also play enormous roles in “The Hunger Games.” In this respect, the Capitol holds some similarities to our society. At this year’s Victoria Secret Fashion Show an audience of 10.3 million tuned in. Unfortunately, this number is significantly higher than the average number of people watching the nightly news.
Lastly, a striking theme in the book is class within society. The novel shows the clear and divided line between the people that possess the money and the people that don’t. Katniss and her family are continually hungry. Even her sister’s cat is portrayed as almost lifeless because of the shortage of food. The district in which they live (District 12) is the most impoverished of the districts, offering only coal to the other districts. Wealth affects the way in which different districts view the Games. Without spoiling the story, we find that Katniss comes to see the Games as a way to provide for her family. This most visible parallel for readers is a wartime veteran serving for the betterment of something bigger than his or her own life.
DePaul junior and avid reader Brianna Kelly mentioned that the way the novel themes the ideas of power, society and class and politics are reminiscent of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“I truly believe that the power, in both cases, lies within the masses. Everyone needs to be passionate about the cause and be willing to face the consequences in order to achieve the goals of the movement. It’s possible in American society if people get even angrier about the political and economic situation, there could be similar revolutions,” she said.
Collins reminds us that we are not far from sitting around on our couches and watching the people of our neighborhoods fight to the death because of a sadistic dictatorship. The story has a potent message for a generation in great need of it. With extreme oppression and a lack of empathy, we lose touch with humanity, resulting in a generation obsessed with vanity and entertainment.