I just reread The Hunger Games and it was ah-mazing! I had a lot of thoughts and wanted to write a meta.
So when I watched Mockingjay Part 2 last November, I immediately wanted to reread the trilogy over winter break, but that didn’t happen. Well, I finished book one yesterday, and had all these feels and thoughts, so I decided to put together a little post.
(I originally wanted this to go up yesterday since I was supposed to finish the book Thursday, but I wasted Thursday binging Younger. Sorry I suck!)
***Oh yeah, even though this is focused on book one, it has minor spoilers for the rest of the series.
Romeo and Juliet Influence
Katniss and Peeta have a slight Romeo and Juliet thing going on. Even before the ‘star-crossed lovers’ thing the Games makes them come up with, Katniss makes a comment about Peeta’s mom hating that he’s in love with a girl from the Seam. Even in District 12 they come from two different worlds. The Mellark crew lives slightly better off (even though they have to eat the burned bread they don’t sell D:) than Katniss and her family. In some ways there’s a difference in class that separates them.
And then obviously the ‘star-crossed lovers’ coin that the Capitol pins on them has more direct links to the play. The ploy with the berries is just like the Tomb Scene in Romeo and Juliet, when both lovers take their lives. Though their sacrifice mends the divide between their families, Katniss and Peeta have only started a rebellion. Katniss is symbolized as the mockingjay, while Juliet is enshrined in a gold statue. It’s just a small connection that made me smile.
Snape and Lily: Always
While I was reading, I picked up on something I hadn’t noticed before. Everyone knows Snape and Lily and Always from Harry Potter. It’s considered one of the most romantic things ever. I am one of those people that think Snape was a huge jerk and don’t really swoon over ‘always.’ But when Katniss asks Peeta when he first fell for her in order to get a sponsor gift from Haymitch, Peeta opens up and tells her about the first day of school. According to him, his father was in love with Katniss’ mother, but she married someone else and he’s loved her ever since. This immediately jumped out at me and I pieced it back to the baker’s promise to Katniss after she volunteers to save Prim.
Peeta’s dad promises Katniss he won’t let Prim starve. He’d also been buying game from Katniss and Gale for years. Basically, Peeta’s dad cared for Katniss and Prim in any way he could because of his love for their mom–and perhaps just out of being a decent human being. He didn’t look at them with hatred for symbolizing the woman he loved loving someone else. He helped keep them alive and was kind to them. Snape, on the other hand, was a bully to children he was supposed to be teaching, treated Harry horribly, and hated James and the Marauders for all eternity, to the point he got Remus fired. Peeta’s dad and Katniss’ mom are a much healthier version of Snape and Lily, to me.
A World Filled With Women
An ongoing study looking at Disney princess movies just published research showing that male characters have more lines than the female characters. Part of the problem is the total lack of female characters besides the lead princess. How can Belle and Mrs. Potts speak more than the Beast, Gaston, Maurice, LeFou, Cogsworth, Lumière, Chip, the creepy asylum dude, a tavern full of drunk men, the bookshop owner, the baker, and an entire world full of men?
While I was reading, I noticed the abundance of women in minor roles in The Hunger Games. Greasy Sae, Rooba the butcher, Madge, Venia, Octavia and the redheaded Avox girl to name a few.
I also really loved the portrayal of Foxface, something I didn’t really care about six years ago. I loved how Katniss was kind of jealous of her skills, and how Foxface was always one step aside of her. Katniss had a grudging respect for her, something that really stood out to me when they’re lured to the Cornucopia for the feast and Foxface darts in and out before anyone can move. Katniss is like, “Ugghhhh, why didn’t I think of that! Why is she so awesome?”
On the same note, I love how there was no hate for any of the female tributes. She describes Glimmer as ‘sexy and lush.’ Katniss never compares herself to them in a mean way, or thinks awful things about them–despite being in a fight for her life. They’re simply there and a threat to her. Glimmer is the one she has to get the bow from. Clove nearly disfigures Katniss with her knife. Even though so much emphasis is placed on Cato and he is who makes it to the climax of the book, the female tributes present immediate threats to Katniss.
Rue, of course, is the most important female tribute to Katniss. She reminds Katniss of her sister, Prim. But in her own right, Rue is a very interesting character. She’s very developed, not just a Prim stand in. She has a lot in common with Katniss; the oldest in her family and working hard to protect them. She has a love for music, which Katniss at first scorns before remembering she used to love it too. Rue has a connection to mockingjays and is responsible for that famous whistle that gives us all feels.
She has her own strategy to survive the Games, different from all the others, but similar to Peeta. (Maybe that’s another reason Katniss took a quick liking to her ;D) While Peeta excelled at camouflage, Rue was able to hide herself in the trees.
Rue and Katniss take care of each other. Rue first gives her the idea to drop the tracker jacker nest that helps her escape. Then they’re able to exchange supplies and work together to destroy the mountain of supplies the Careers were hoarding, thus weakening them and turning the tide in the Games. Rue also just helps Katniss mentally, which any person would need if they were in a vicious fight to the death.
And then of course, the most prominent female character besides Katniss would be Effie Trinket. Firstly I just love how much her name says. Effie very much is a trinket of the Capitol. She means nothing to the Capitol, like a useless trinket, but is dressed up all ornately with crazy colored hair. She acts like the Capitol. She speaks like the Capitol.
In book one, she literally represents the Capitol in District 12. The Peacekeepers were super blah and didn’t care about enforcing the rules. So when Effie arrives, she is the Capitol. But of course she genuinely grows to care for Katniss and Peeta and her blinders are taken off, and she becomes more than the Capitol’s trinket.
Subverting Gender Roles
Katniss and Peeta are so important to me! I was a Gale/Katniss shipper six years ago because I was a dumb 15 year old. But I’m turning 21 in April and I like to think I’m a slightly smarter person than I was then. Also my feminist awakening didn’t come until junior year, so maybe if I’d read these books a year later I would have seen them differently.
Okay but Katniss is the moody, angsty, athletic boss and Peeta is the softer, kinder, artist. Peeta is the one with all the feels and Katniss tries not to think about her heart. IT’S AMAZING.
Katniss and Peeta are both super intelligent, as shown by how they both survive the Games with different strategies. I also love how Katniss has a feminine side, like how she loves the clothes Cinna designs for her. Katniss is not strong because she can shoot a bow and arrow well; she’s strong because she can do that, and like pretty clothes, and love her family, and sing Rue to sleep, and cover Rue in flowers, and be openly disgusted at puss but try to save Peeta anyway.
Katniss isn’t good with words, that’s something Peeta excels at. Peeta isn’t good at being sneaky in the woods (he scares all the game away, drifts away from Katniss so she can’t hear the signal, and nearly eats nightlock, okay) but Katniss is a total badass at that stuff. She can shoot squirrels in the eye.
Katniss and Peeta don’t play into traditional gender roles. Katniss’s strength doesn’t come from a total lack of femininity, and while Peeta could be seen as the vulnerable artist, he’s also physically strong. They’re both independent characters and all the more interesting because they don’t conform.
A Woman’s Worth
Something I found sooo interesting in this book was the fact that Katniss isn’t desirable until Peeta makes her so. Haymitch basically tells her this. She’s sour and off-putting before Peeta tells everyone she has all these dudes at home that love her and he’s one of them. Katniss isn’t worth anything until a man speaks for her, wants her, tells the world she’s good enough for his love. Her act of bravery and love for her sister does not make her worthy. Neither does the 11 she scored on her own, based on her own merit.
And later, Katniss is the one that has to prove she loves Peeta. Katniss is the one no one believes. Katniss is the one whose emotions are constantly scrutinized. Katniss’ worth is constantly questioned.
After the Games, Cinna tries to dress her in girlish and innocent clothes (Katniss remarks she looks 14), trying to equate being a girl with not being a threat, worthless.
Katniss and the Epilogue in Mockingjay
Okay, so like many people, I was angry with the epilogue in the last book when I first read it. But when I saw the movie last November, I thought it was very well done. Why shouldn’t Katniss get a full life with love and children after all the shit she went through? Yes, you can have a full life without kids and everyone pointed to the numerous times Katniss tells us she doesn’t want kids. Of course, people who like the epilogue point out Katniss says she doesn’t want kids because of the horrible world they live in, and by the end of the series they have toppled that regime.
But while I was reading book one, it dawned on me how maternal Katniss was. Obviously she loves Prim more than anything, and did all this just to keep her safe. But even how much she looked after Rue and loved her so completely, it really showed me that Katniss is capable of so much love and she has that maternal instinct. Collins did a splendid job of showing us the difference or paradox between what Katniss says and what she does.
Yeah, maybe at sixteen, she didn’t want kids because that’s totally normal. But there’s a part of Katniss we’re shown quite intimately who gravitates towards kids naturally. I’ve started Catching Fire and she mentions taking Madge out to teach her how to shoot. She’s patient in her own ways and willing to help people learn.
I’m very satisfied with how the series ends because it’s important to see someone wounded and hurt and scarred choosing love and finding solace, finding comfort, finding a way to move on while carrying all those memories. Katniss isn’t suddenly healed because she has Peeta and children. She’s still hurting. But she’s also happy.
There we go! Some Hunger Games thoughts and observations. Perhaps I’ll do one for Catching Fire. Who knows.
What did you think of these observations? What is your favorite part of THE HUNGER GAMES? When did you read these books? Do you like the movies? Should I do one for Catching Fire? Tell me below!