Month: September 2014

The Hunger Games: An Overview

At the conclusion of my second time reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I find myself to be at conflict with my opinions of the book. My first time through, the suspense kept me tied to the novel, my eyes hooked on the pages for hours. Now, I am not as impressed with the writing because the novelty of suspense wore out for me. Suzanne Collins’ writing is still spectacular, however, because of the issues she plasters through the struggles of the characters in this YA fiction novel.

As placed in the Dystopian/Sci-Fi genre, The Hunger Games focuses on political control. In my opinion, this country focuses on a ‘rule by fear’ methodology, and nothing could set them up better for failure. One of my favorite quotes by Benjamin Mee goes like this, “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” This is exactly what Katniss has as she is slipping the poisonous nightlock into her and Peeta’s mouths: Twenty seconds of insane courage. This is the beginning of the Capitol’s downward spiral to their eventual loss of power.

Unintentionally, Collins also created an issue of race in her transfer of this novel from book to movie. In an edition of The New Yorker posted on Mach 30th, 2012, Anna Holmes paints the story of a man named Adam in her article, White Until Proven Black: Imagining Race in Hunger Games. Adam uses the social platform Tumblr to spread the issues surrounding the race of the characters of District 11 in The Hunger Games. Many people took to Twitter when casting decisions were made for this iconic movie. In Homes’ article, she gives examples of these tweets, one person exclaims, “why is Rue black?!?! #WTH #hungergamesprobs” (Holmes 1).  During this casting debacle, I recall asking myself many times, “Who cares if Rue is black? Does it make her any less of an actress?” According to some people, Rue couldn’t be black. This entirely changed the meaning of the book for them, despite the fact that Suzanne Collins does describe Rue as, “And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor” (Collins 45). In a year where issues like the Ferguson shooting of Mike Brown plaster the front pages of all media, we must ask ourselves: Why are we, in 2014, still arguing over race? At what point can we accept that people are people?

I believe that these two issues are central to the novel, as are many others, but that would require a much longer post than many are willing to read. Soon, I will hopefully have a post up analyzing this book from a feminist standpoint!


Anna Holmes’ Article:



The Lottery: Social Contract, or Unquestioned Tradition?

Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is a tried and true piece for analysis in American Literature courses. The ethical dilemma presented in this short story is strong, as are most of the issues that are brought to light in Jackson’s writing.

To first understand the issues that Shirley Jackson brings to light, we need an understanding of an ethical theory called Social Contract. James Rachels explains this concept simply in his article, A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy, by concluding that each person in a society needs to cooperate-or follow rules and standards set by that society- in order to maintain a community that benefits everyone (Rachels 9). We can take a look at our own society to see where this ethical theory comes into play. For example, if there was not a standard that people at Morningside College conducted themselves in a manner that kept each other safe, students and professors would not feel as if they were in a comfortable community environment; this would be destructive to our learning community.

For those who have not read this short story, it is about a small community of about 200. They get together and have their own lottery; every single person participates. The twist of this story is that the person with the black dot on their piece of paper is going to be stoned. The story hints quite frequently that the community really has no idea why they still follow this tradition. They just do.

How does Social Contract relate to The Lottery? At a critical point in the story, a character named Old Man Warner makes his opinion clear about the lottery known when another character mentions to him that there is a community thinking about doing away with the lottery all together. He says, “Pack of crazy fools… Listening to the young folks, nothings good enough for them…Used to be a saying about, ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’… There’s always been a lottery” (Jackson 706). Old Man Warren’s statement sums up this community’s reliability on their own Social Contract: They believe that without everyone conforming and obeying to the unwritten rule that this lottery must happen every year, their community will fall apart.

This is how they rely on their community to survive year after year: By stoning someone, but not really knowing why. This lottery is an unquestioned tradition. It is a Social Contract they follow, and this is meant for us to take a look at own own unwritten and unquestioned social contracts. Why do we dress a certain way or fear being slut-shamed? In what sort of environment is it okay to share your opinions, and where is it better to shut-up and conform? These are questions that we have to ask ourselves, and hopefully challenge the social contracts of society with our answers.