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: http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/white-until-proven-black-imagining-race-in-hunger-games