The Hunger Games - Themes

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This themes page has been designed to give you a context and some background knowledge with which to develop your own understanding of the themes and how they relate to the text. You should:

  1. Read the context description at the top of each subheading.
  2. Write an explanation of how each quote relates to the subheading and overall theme.
  3. Use the themes discussed as a basis for drawing your own original conclusions


Humanity and Inhumanity

It is more helpful to consider these two concepts as a continuum in the novel rather than a case of one or the other. This would mean someone can be both inhumane and humane but would probably be more one than the other.

Katniss, in particular, faces a number of situations in the novel where she has to decide whether to do something humane (compassionate) or do something inhumane to another person. Quite often these decisions are based on a potential threat to herself, either directly or indirectly caused by the Capitol's tyrannical (harsh) treatment of the lesser districts.

To what extent is Katniss and the other characters in the text prepared to commit inhumane or morally acts to increase their chances of survival?
How do these decisions effect or change them?
How much guilt does Katniss feel over these decisions and is the guilt justifiable?

She appears to feel more guilty over the Avox girl than over killing anyone in the arena. Also, killing 'evil' people seems easier than killing less evil ones (e.g. Cato vs. Thresh).

Peeta refuses to let the Games (and in turn, the Gamemakers) change him.
"I don't want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not." p.171 "When the time comes, I'm sure I'll kill just like everybody else... Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to... to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games." p.172

"I want to do something, right here, right now, to shame them, to make them accountable, to show the Capitol that whatever they do or force us to do there is a part of every tribute they can't own. That Rue was more than a piece in their Games. And so am I." p. 286

"He'll probably turn into one of those raging beast tributes, the kind who tries to eat someone's heart after they've killed them. There was a guy like that a few years ago from District 6 called Titus. He went completely savage and the Gamemakers had to have him stunned with electric guns to collect the bodies of the players he'd killed before he ate them." p.173

"The monstrous boy from District 2 is a ruthless killing machine." p.151

"In the Capitol, they call it the Launch Room. In the districts, it's referred to as the Stockyard. The place animals go before slaughter." p. 175

Survival and Risk

Anyone that wishes to survive in a harsh environment needs the necessary skills and an ability to assess risk and make decisions based on possible consequences and outcomes. During her time in the arena, Katniss makes a number of decisions based on her assessment of the risks involved and the potential for gain. She has also developed the necessary skills in her early years to help the family survive and utilises these in ways that both helps them out but also puts her at risk to some degree.

What risks does she take in order to provide for her family and keep them safe? Katniss provides for her family in district 12 by disobeying the laws and going through the surrounding fence of the district and goes poaching for food illegally which could have the punishment of death if she ever got caught.
How does her role as provider for the family effect her individually?
What survival skills does she utilise before and during the games?
What is Katniss's initial strategy when entering the Arena?
What are Katniss's priorities once the Games begin?
Where does Katniss go before stopping to rest and what is her thinking behind it?
What risks does she take during the games and what assessment of them does she make beforehand?
How do Katniss's initial strategies for surviving the Hunger Games differ from the other tributes?

Many of Katniss's relationships are forged around the need for survival.
"Gale and I were thrown together by a mutual need to survive." p.136
Katniss has difficulty thinking of relationships in terms outside of the need to survive.
She is constantly questioning Peeta's intentions, believing his pronounced feelings for her are merely a play for viewer sympathy and a way of getting him an edge in the competition.
"If the audience really thinks we're in love... I remember how strongly they responded to his confession. Star-crossed lovers... they eat that stuff up in the Capitol." p.165

Katniss is not the only character who must take risks to survive. Many of District 12's citizens spend their often-short lives working in the dangerous conditions of the coal mines.
"He [Gale] lost his father in the same blast that killed mine.. another oldest child with no father."

Governmental Control and Oppression

The main source of power in The Hunger Games is clear. The government controls everything--from the amount of information that each district receives, the financial and physical resources allowed for living, to the entertainment (how much and what sort) the citizens are allowed to enjoy. As the full extent of this control becomes apparent to Katniss, the novel's heroine, and observing readers, we can assume that the more this government controls, the more dangerous it has become.

As the first of The Hunger Games trilogy comes to a close, Katniss has won the respect and empathy of an entire nation. We see her test the ability of the government to control her destiny by manipulating President’s Snow’s decision (to have two Hunger Games winners) in front of the entire nation of Panem. After the Capitol rekoves the “dual winners rule,” Katniss and Peeta hatch a double suicide plan. They (Katniss and Peeta) didn’t choose to be entered into the reapings, they didn’t choose to be part of a televised war, but they now choose NOT to be pawns in The Game. As a result they manipulate the outcome of The Games in their favor. Through Katniss, the citizens of Panem realize the more Government controls, the less likely the odds will ever be in their favor. This hints at potential for the citizens to fight for survival as a team, rise above the oppression, and for Katniss to become The Mockinjay.

Freedom of Speech, & Freedom of Expression Does not Exist in Panem

Throughout the novel, the Capitol (Government of Panem) puts a quick end to ideas, actions, and expressions of individuality they oppose. The districts are regularly denied information from other districts in an effort to keep them separate. The resources are continuously restricted, not only from the districts but also from The Games’ participants (as some resources such as medicine, bread, soup may also be seen as a form of empathetic expression). All through The Games, conversations between contestants are prevented from being broadcasted to the entire nation of Panem. Only carefully edited segments and crafted messages are televised. During the after-Games highlights, the Capitol purposely omits Katniss decorating Rue’s body before it was retrieved. Showing this would have been a bonding moment for the districts -- something the Capitol could not allow.

The Use of Entertainment to Control the Population.

A system has been created by President Snow whereby the people within the Capitol district are regarded as celebrities. They are rich, outrageously dressed, wear ridiculous but entertaining make-up, have surgically altered bodies, and accept The Games as reality TV. By looking down on the districts, the brutality of The Games has accepted as normal -- like the Roman gladiators' disembowelment within the Coliseums, the treatment of Jews during WWII, and slavery in the pre-Civil War US.) Perhaps the viewers feel better simply because they are not in the situation themselves? Or perhaps by distracting the population with The Hunger Games, it gives the citizens of the Capitol a sense of empowerment, and reduces the likelihood of rebellion. Mandatory viewing of Capitol Controlled Entertainment -- by ALL citizens, in All districts -- reminds the citizens that President Snow, The Gamekeepers, and the Government will show no mercy: an eye for an eye.

In a situation where a small population needs to control a larger one, it is not necessarily realistic to use force or violent means as the sole method for control. In such a case, the smaller population may not have the resources to adequately manage the larger one and may use force as one method and positive incentives as another. Another way to consider this concept is that a partially unhappy population is easier to control that a completely unhappy one.

The Capitol uses The Hunger Games in part to entertain the more bloodthirsty members of society in Panem but also as a warning to the other districts of the lengths they are willing to go to to keep them under control. It is both a positive incentive and a negative one. The effect of the Hunger Games is twofold then, on one hand it provides entertainment for those in the population who enjoy violence and on the other, it shows that not only are the Capitol willing to use violence and torture to keep the other districts under control, they are also willing to direct this violence toward young people and children.

"Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated. The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games." p.21

"Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch - this is the Capitol's way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear... "If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen." p.22

"The reaping is a good opportunity for the Capitol to keep tabs on the population as well. Twleve-to eighteen-year-olds are hered into roped areas marked off by ages" p.19

Corporal Punishment

"Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain as retribution for an offence, or for the purpose of disciplining or reforming a wrongdoer, or to deter attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable." Corporal punishment

Most societies have some form of punishment to dissuade people from actions that are deemed inappropriate or damaging to others. As well as providing a punishment and an incentive to not commit these actions, corporal punishment (capital punishment is the death sentence) can also be put on display so others can see the direct consequences of disobeying the ruling power. In this way, it is used to remind people of what will happen to them if they choose to break the rules.

Much of the debate surrounding corporal punishment is around whether or not is can be considered humane to enact violence on an individual for committing an infraction (breaking the rules.) The Capitol in the novel uses public capital punishment in a similar way to the way they use the Hunger Games.

"My father could have made good money selling [handcrafted bows], but if the officials found out he would have been publicly executed for inciting a rebellion... the idea that someone might be arming the Seam would never have been allowed." p.6

"Rue’s eyes widen. “Oh, no, we’re not allowed to eat the crops.”
“They arrest you or something?” I ask.
“They whip you and make everyone else watch,” says Rue.
“The mayor’s very strict about it.”

The Avox Girl: "Someone who committed a crime. They cut out her tongue so she can't speak... She's probably a traitor of some sort... you're not to speak to one of them unless it's to give an order" p.95
"They were running as if their lives depended on it." A Hovercraft appears and kills the boy, and captures the girl. "They'd had that Capitol look about them."

"Beyond us there's only wilderness. If you don't count the ruins of District 13 that still smoulder from the toxic bombs. They show it on television occasionally, just to remind us." p.101

"If the Gamemakers want to punish me they can do it publicly. Wait until I'm in the arena and set starving wild animals on me" p.126

"One time, this boy Martin, he tried to keep his pair [of night vision goggles]. Hid them in his trousers. They killed him on the spot... Martin wasn't right in the head. I mean, he still acted like a three-year-old. He just wanted the glasses to play with." p.247

Restriction of Resources

It is a well established argument that a very direct way to control a population is with the restriction of basic resources that are vital to survival. In this way a ruling segment of a society can not only control another group psychologically (if the people know their food supplies can be cut off they will feel helpless) but also by keeping them weak physically through cutting off food and to control the potential for military resistance by restricting the raw materials needed to make weapons. Without the basic necessities, people not only feel helpless and afraid but they become physically and mentally weak, and unable to fight back.

The Capitol restricts basic resources, such as food, (and in a modern society -- technology) to the other districts. They have also separated the raw materials and resources between areas so that each district only has access to one resource. This resource is typically not enough on its own for them to survive and resist in a significant manner. For example, district twelve may only have access to coal and not to food while district nine have access to food but no raw materials. In order to barter for provisions, children's names may be entered additional times into "the reapings" thereby making them more likely to be chosen for The Games than a more affluent member of the Merchant Class.

Similarly, resources are restricted to the participants during The Games. Some resources such as medicine, bread, or even soup may also be seen as a form of empathetic expression. All through The Games, conversations between contestants are prevented from being broadcasted to the entire nation of Panem. Only carefully edited segments and crafted messages are televised. During the after-Games highlights, the Capitol purposely omits Katniss decorating Rue’s body before it was retrieved. Showing this would have been a bonding moment for the districts -- something the Capitol could not allow as it could obviously lead to empathy and bonding. Likewise Katniss could not see or hear about the reaction to her kindness towards Rue as seen back in her home districts where the uprising will eventually begin.

"Most of the Peacekeepers turn a blind eye to the few of us who hunt because they're as hungry for fresh meat as anybody is." p.5

"District Twelve. Where you can starve to death in safety" p.6

"The money ran out and we were slowly starving to death... I kept telling myself if I could only hold out until May... I would turn twelve and be able to sign up for the tesserae." p.27

"I wonder if the Gamemakers are blocking out our conversation, because even though the information seems harmless, they don't want people in different districts to know about one another." p.246

"They omit the part where I covered her in flowers... because even that smacks of rebellion." p.441

District 12 represents the poorest of the poor. And "The Seam" is a colloquial term for the poorest village within that district. Starvation is so inevitable that Katniss and Gale are foces to hunt illegally in the woods outside the district, later we discover this is District 13, in order to feed their families. Since the sharing of information is not allowed, Katniss learns from Rue during The Games, that citizens in other districts are suffering similarly. They are not allowed to eat the crops or they will be similarly punished for illegal behavior.

"Starvation's not an uncommon fate in District 12. Who hasn't seen the victims? Older people who can't work. Children from a family wtih too many to feed. Those injured in the mines... Starvation is never the cause of death officially. It's always the flu, or exposure, or pneumonia. But that fools no one." p.28

"I'd have thought, in District Eleven, you'd have a bit more to eat than us. You know, since you grow the food," I say. "Oh, no, we're not allowed to eat the crops... They whip you and make everyone else watch" p.202

Propaganda and Restriction of Information

The Government of the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem has divided the country into 12 districts. They take orders from all-powerful President Snow, who rules from The Capitol. The districts are kept from contacting one another, and each is forced into a particular industry, thus limiting the ability of the people who live in the districts to socialize with one another. By keeping the citizens distant, and restricting communications between them, the citizens cannot exchange knowledge and expertise. They cannot learn about means of transportation, technology, weapons, and manufacturing. Most importantly they cannot make psychological and social connections between one another.

Information about population numbers in other districts and where people are can make communication difficult if someone was to plan a rebellion. Also, restricting knowledge and the ability to gain expertise in the production of weapons, transport and technology and even restricting the kinds of texts and information that might inspire people to rebel, not to mention depriving them of the time they would need to engage in such texts are all ways keep a population under control. This type of control then, is both practical and psychological and takes place primarily through information manipulation and restriction.

"Somehow it all comes back to coal at school. Besides basic reading and maths, most of our instruction is coal-related. Except for the weekly lecture on the history of Panem. It's mostly a lot of blather about what we owe the Capitol. I know there must be more than they're telling us, an actual account of what happened during the rebellion. But I don't spend much time thinking about it. Whatever the truth is, I don't see how it will help me get food on the table." p.50

"I wonder if the Gamemakers are blocking out our conversation, because even though the information seems harmless, they don't want people in different districts to know about one another." p.246

"They omit the part where I covered her in flowers... because even that smacks of rebellion." p.441

By the time Katniss enters the Hunger Games arena, she experienced how information restriction (including hiding her own emotions) can be used to control people’s actions. She pretends to be emotionally indifferent, isolates herself from the others, and forces herself to be unsympathetic under pressure. Part of her growth throughout the novel is the realization that people are better when they communicate, share information, and act together. She finds she survives better by forming alliances with Rue and Peeta. One emotionally-charged moment is when District 11 gifts Katniss bread for her consideration towards Rue. This helps Katniss realize the powerful effect of human interaction.

Fear and Mistrust of One Another (Narcs!)

A population that are distrustful of each other are also less likely to work cooperatively to overthrow a ruling power. Offering incentives for people to inform on others not only breeds mistrust among a population but also serves to inform those in power of individuals that might be plotting to overthrow or simply disobey the rules.

The Capitol blatantly breed this contempt between districts through the Hunger Games where citizens are forced to fight one another... to the death!

"I glance quickly over my shoulder. Even here, even in the middle of nowhere, you worry someone might overhear you." p.7

"When I was younger, I scared my mother to death, the things I would blurt out about District 12, about the people who rule our country, Panem, from the far-off city called the Capitol. Eventually I understood this would only lead us to more trouble." p.7

"Most refuse dealing with the racketeers but carefully, carefully. These same people tend to be informers, and who hasn't broken the law? I could be shot on a daily basis for hunting, but the appetites of those in charge protect me. Not everyone can claim the same." p20

"The tesserae are just another tool to cause misery in our district. A way to plant hatred between the starving workers of the Seam and those who can generally count on supper... It's to the Capitol's advantage to have us divided among ourselves."

The Privileged and Powerful Few

Creating a system where some people feel superior to others, a hierarchy where some are above others, will provide a degree of empowerment for some and decrease the chances of dissatisfaction, unrest and then rebellion. This system is utilised by the Capitol in their numbering and ordering of the different districts.

Most of the population in the Capitol probably feels superior to all the other districts; the members of district four feel superior to those in district nine and so on. Not only do they have the power literally, they also display symbols of their status and power, a technologically and architecturally superior city. This concept highlights the issue of the bottom-of-the-heap District 12 winning the Hunger Games and in a small way, turning the system on its head.

"The commentators are not sure what to say about the crowd's refusal to applaud. The silent salute. One says that District 12 has always been a bit backward" p.56

"The cameras haven't lied about its grandeur. If anything, they have not quite captured the magnificence of the glistening buildings in a rainbow of hues that tower into the air, the shiny cars that roll down the wide paved streets, the oddly dressed people with bizarre hair and painted faces who have never missed a meal. All the colours seem artificial, the pink's too deep, the greens too bright, the yellows painful to the eyes, like the flat round discs of hard candy we can never afford to buy at the tiny sweet shop in District 12." p.72

"Days of hunting and gathering for this one meal and even then it would be a poor substitute for the Capitol version. What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of the button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?" p.79

The Career Tributes tend to gather rowdily around one table, as if to prove their superiority, that they have no fear of one another and consider the rest of us beneath notice." p.119

"They do surgery in the Capitol, to make people appear younger and thinner. In District 12, looking old is something of an achievement since so many people die early... A plump person is envied because they aren't scraping by like the majority of us. But here it is different. Wrinkles aren't desirable. A round belly isn't a sign of success." p.150

Dehumanisation to Justify Inequality

Dehumanisation is the process of consistently devaluing and looking down on a group of people over a period of time until these concepts are accepted as the norm within a society. People from other groups (usually the ruling elite) will look on people from these other groups as lesser, physically and/or mentally.

Dehumanisation often takes place before and during persecution and is often used as an excuse for mistreatment of a individuals from the dehumanised group. An example of this would be the persecution of the Jews during World War II and the British view of native peoples in South America, Africa and other nations during British colonialism.

In The Hunger Games various characters from the Capitol display this kind of attitude toward the members of the other districts, especially those from districts nine to twelve. The treatment of the Avox Girl (cutting out her tongue) and the killing of her fellow escapee illustrate just how far things can go when dehumanisation takes place.

"The pair last year ate everything with their hands like a couple of savages." p.54

"The three step back and admire their work. "Excellent! You almost look like a human being now!"... they all laugh... "Thank you," I say sweetly. "We don't have much cause to look nice in District Twelve." p.76

"How you've both successfully struggled to overcome the barbarism of your district." Effie Trinket. p.90
"Barbarism? That's ironic coming from a woman helping to prepare us for slaughter. And what's she basing our success on? Our table manners?" Katniss' response p.90


The Dark Days

In any setting in a fictional work (and in real life) they are circumstances that lead up to and contribute to the setting depicted in a text. Often, a tyrannical rulership will use difficult circumstances as a justification for authoritarian measures to keep things from falling apart. Military curfews, martial law during a time of war, shooting deserters, drafts for the armed forces, even the United States using 9/11 as a reason for increased security measures and the suspension of human rights are all examples of this.

"A mockingjay. They're funny birds and something of a slap in the face to the Capitol." p.51
"It took people a while to realise... how private conversations were being transmitted. Then, of course, the rebels fed the Capitol endless lies, and the joke was on it." p.52

"The mountains form a natural barrier between the Capitol and the eastern districts.... This geographical advantage was a major factor in the districts losing the war that led to my being a tribute today. Since the rebels had to scale the mountains, they were easy targets for the Capitol's air forces." p.71

Katniss's Personal Rebellion

Despite her illegal hunting, Katniss does not concern herself with anti-establishment thoughts.
Although she would entertain these thoughts when she was young, she soon realised she was only putting her family at risk. We can infer that if she was caught saying things against the Capitol that she might be arrested or executed and her family may also be detained or wouldn't be able to support themselves without her around. She is also concerned that Prim, "might begin to repeat my words." p7.

"When I was younger, I scared my mother to death, the things I would blurt out about District 12, about the people who rule our country, Panem, from the far-off city called the Capitol. Eventually I understood this would only lead us to more trouble." p.7

"What good is yelling about the Capitol in the middle of the woods? It doesn't change anything. It doesn't make things fair. It doesn't fill our stomachs. In fact, it scares off the nearby game." p.17

"I know there must be more than they're telling us, an actual account of what happened during the rebellion. But I don't spend much time thinking about it. Whatever the truth is, I don't see how it will help me get food on the table." p.50

On her illegal hunting:
"Gale and I agree that if we have to choose between dying of hunger and a bullet in the head, the bullet would be much quicker." p. 20

Katniss's compulsion for rebellion grows:
"I hate Effie Trinket's comment [about last year's tributes eating like savages] so much I make a point of eating the rest of my meal with my fingers. Then I wipe my hands on the tablecloth."
-- A small form of rebellion early on.

Cinna's instruction that Katniss and Peeta hold hands during the parade:
"Just the perfect touch of rebellion."

"Suddenly I am furious, that with my life on the line they don't even have the decency to pay attention to me... Without thinking, I pull an arrow from my quiver and send it straight at the Gamemakers' table." p.124

"All I can think is how unjust the whole thing is, the Hunger Games. Why am I hopping around like some trained dog trying to please people I hate?" p.142


Katniss and Peeta.

"A kind Peeta Mellark is far more dangerous to me than an unkind one." p.59

Katniss and Gale.

"Gale won't have any trouble finding a wife. He's good-looking, he's strong enough to handle the work in the mines, and he can hunt... Good hunting partners are hard to find."

"Maybe there is nothing romantic between us, but when he opens his arms I don't hesitate to go into them. His body is familiar to me - the way it moves, the smell of wood smoke, even the sound of his heart beating I know from quiet moments on a hunt - but this is the first time I really feel it, lean and hard-muscled against my own." p.47

"Being out in the woods with Gale... sometimes I was actually happy." p.136

Katniss and Cinna

Katniss trusts Cinna, a relative stranger, but not her Mother to look after Prim (from the resources page on themes).

"It crosses my mind that Cinna's calm and normal demeanour masks a complete madman." p.82

Katniss and her mother.

"You can't clock out and leave Prim on her own. There's no me now to keep you both alive... You have to promise me you'll fight through it!" My voice has risen to a shout. In it is all the anger, all the fear I felt at her abandonment." p.43

"Some gnarled place inside me hated her for her weakness, for her neglect, for the months she had put us through. Prim forgave her, but I had taken a step back... put up a wall to protect myself from needing her, and nothing was ever the same between us again." p.64

"I left her blue dress and shoes on the floor of my train car, never thinking... of trying to hold on to a piece of her, of home. Now I wish I had." p.77

Katniss and the Avox Girl.

"I hate her, too, with her knowing reproachful eyes that call me a coward, a monster, a puppet of the Capitol, both now and then. For her, justice must finally be happening. At least my death will help pay for the life of the boy in the woods." p. 144
Instead, the Avox Girl surprises Katniss by offering her forgiveness.

Katniss, Peeta and Haymitch

"Here's some advice. Stay alive," says Haymitch, and then bursts out laughing" p.68

Peeta knocks Haymitch's glass out of his hand after Haymitch makes light of the games. Haymitch retaliates by punching him on the jaw. Katniss threatens Haymitch in return by driving a knife into the table right beside his hand. This exchange earns them Haymitch's respect. "Did I actually get a pair of fighters this year?" p.69

"I'll make a deal with you. You don't interfere with my drinking, and I'll stay sober enough to help you... but you have to do exactly what I say." p.70

Reality TV and the Spectacle

The Spectacle

The 'spectacle' refers to peoples' desire to view the challenges and difficulties other people face in a particular situation. In recent time, this phenomenon has manifested itself in reality television. Fictional works fulfill this desire to some extent but being able to watch real people in real situations provides a degree of connection with events and empathy with the characters involved not possible in a work of fiction. The entertainment value and pleasure for the audience may be greater in the context of the spectacle.

"Today, despite the bright banners hanging on the buildings, there's an air of grimness. The camera crews, perched like buzzards on rooftops, only add to the effect." p.19

"Latecomers are directed to the adjacent streets, where they can watch the event on screens as it's televised live by the state" p.20

"There are others, too, who have no one they love at stake, or who no longer care, who slip among the crowd, taking bets on the two kids whose names will be drawn. Odds are given on their ages, whether they're Seam or merchant, if they will break down and weep." p.20

"There's almost always some wood... since that year half of them died of cold. Not much entertainment in that." p.47
"We spent one Hunger Games watching the players freeze to death at night. You could hardly see them because they were just huddled in balls and had no wood for fires or torches or anything. It was considered very anticlimactic in the Capitol, all those quiet, bloodless deaths." p.48

"The people begin to point at us eagerly as they recognize a tribute train rolling into the city. I step away from the window, sickened by their excitement, knowing they can't wait to watch us die." p. 72

The parade: "The opening music begins. It's easy to hear, blasted around the Capitol. Massive doors slide open, revealing the crowd-lined streets... The tributes from District 1 ride out in a chariot pulled by snow-white horses." p.84

"She has reminded me why I'm here. Not to model flashy costumes and eat delicacies. But to die a bloody death while the crowds urge on my killer" p.97

"Often there are trees, because barren landscapes are dull and the Games resolve too quickly without them. But what will the climate be like? What traps have the Gamemakers hidden to liven up the slower moments?" p.169

"The arenas are historic sites, preserved after the Games. Popular destinations for Capitol residents to visit, to vacation. Go for a month, rewatch the Games, tour the catacombs, visit the sites where the deaths took place. You can even take part in re-enactments. They say the food is excellent." p.175


Schadenfreude is the happiness we take from others' misfortunes. In ancient Rome spectators would pack the Colosseum, frenzied over the expectation of seeing men hack, stab, slash and disembowel each other in the ring. The appeal of Schadenfreude is partially in that seeing someone else in a bad situation, an individual feels better as they are not in this situation themselves. In Rome, perhaps the combination of this and being able to entertain bloodlust without putting themselves in danger lead to the regularity of the spectacle of the gladiators.

"Haymitch plummets off the stage and knocks himself unconscious. He's disgusting, but I'm grateful... [for] every camera gleefully trained on him." p.30

"As if on cue, Haymitch falls off the stage, and they groan comically." p.56

Entertainment at What Cost?

What is necessary in a society for killing to become a sport / spectacle?

There is a disturbing contrast between the hype over the lead-up to the games and care taken over presenting the contestants and the actual reality of The Hunger Games themselves. The moment Katniss enters the arena demonstrates this contrast sharply. All of the luxury and pampering that took place until this moment was suddenly gone, the contestants were instantly fighting for their lives and in the case of the boy killed by Clove, almost immediately and violently killed.