Thursday, May 8, 2014

Final Blog

I learned a lot this semester about not only the hunger games and the lecture topics, but also how each optic can be expanded to apply to more than I would initially think. I did not expect to be able to make meaningful connections between all the topics and The Hunger Games. It was challenging at times to go deeper than the obvious connections and similarities to the hunger games. It was also challenging to keep improving the blogs each week and add more media, like pictures, gifs, and videos. The required material of the companion books were very helpful, and it would be very interesting now to reread the Hunger Games trilogy after having the knowledge from this class and the books. I bet I would notice a lot of new symbols and connections. I wrote my blogs on:
Dystopian Future
The Arab Spring
Gender and Romance
The Hero's Journey
Children of Men (film)
The End of the World
The Nature of Evil/Holocaust
I found Appalachia's connection to the Hunger Game sot be the most interesting to learn and blog about. Now knowing the similarities between appalachia and District 12, they seem so obvious, but I had no idea before. I learned so much about Appalachia itself in current times, which allowed me to understand the nature of District 12 so much more.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Gender in the Hunger Games

Due to the gender of the protagonist of the Hunger Games and her stereotypically mismatched characteristics, femininity becomes a popular topic when discussing the trilogy. Danielle points out the distribution of power among genders and the situations in which gender plays a big role or does not.  In District 12, gender does not affect education or chances in the reaping, but it does dictate clothing options and most likely career path, with men in the mines and women in the household or making medicine with herbs. In the Capitol, the power belongs to men, President Snow, Seneca Crane,and Plutarch Heavensbee. But fashion in the Capitol is not dictated by gender at all. People in our current world would most likely evaluate their fashion as defying many gender stereotypes. The use of hair dye and make up is very common for Capitol men. Bright colors, ridiculous amounts of time spent on appearance and gaudy outfits is socially acceptable for both genders. Rugged manliness is a style choice reserved for the lower districts and exemplified by Gale Hawthorne. The sexualization of Tributes by the Capitol targets both genders as well. The setting in which gender influences are most absence is District 13. uniformity outweighs any gender differences, with similar duties and the same uniforms for men and women. The leader, President Coin is a woman, but her team and confidants consists of both genders.

Peeta and Katniss are easily likable and relatable characters because Suzanne Collins, unlike many other authors, incorporates traits typically associated with both genders into their personalities. The same cannot be said for Gale, who is stereotypically masculine. Danielle showed this by using online polls and comments about the reactions to and descriptions of the three main characters.

This topic was very interesting and easily relatable. Danielle was very effective in her transfer of information and incorporation of the audience.

Nature of Evil

The Evil in the Hunger Games trilogy seems fictional and unimaginable. Killing children, mass torture and altering people's bodies against their will are all actions taken by the Capitol. However, genocide exists in our current world and perhaps the most horrifying genocide and most shocking violation of basic human rights happened around 70 years ago.

The Holocaust was devastating, with horrors going beyond what anyone would think a human could do. The horror of the Holocaust can never truly be compared to or matched by anything, but doe details form this atrocity were used in the Hunger Games. The people Hitler viewed as lower class citizens, were dehumanized and turned into nothing but numbers, with numbers literally tattooed onto their arms. At the reaping, District citizens are turned into nothing but a number in the chance of the drawing. The readers do not even learn all the tributes names, some are just referred to by their gender and home district number.

Millions of people were forced into concentration camps, which odds are meant death and were not even afforded the chance to say goodbye to their families. In Catching Fire, Katniss does not get to say good by to Prim before entering the Arena, which it is likely she will not return alive from. Unfortunately, in both Panem and Hitler's Germany, children were not treated as too young to witness or suffer from the inhumane treatment. Teenage men and women were subjected to horrible treatment. With such unimaginable cruelty occurring in Panem and our own world, the only thing we can be sure of is that evil persists.

But was every Nazi in Hitler's Germany born evil? Were each of them systematically turned evil? Or were they good people who just did evil things? A popular saying, easily applicable to the Holocaust says "There are two kinds of evil people in this world. Those who do evil things and those who see evil things and don't try to stop it." So is either type of evil worse? Is Hitler more evil than the man who released the dogs to tear concentration camp prisoners to shreds? Is President Snow more evil than the Capitol spectators who take delight in the hunger games and provide its demand? Evil is an extremely complicated concept because everyone has the potential to be evil but everyone also has the potential to stop evil.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The End of the World

I believe in the end of the world, but not the Earth, necessarily, just the world as we know it. I believe the human race will be wiped out, providing a more natural environment for the rest of Earth's species to thrive in. I do not believe in Apocalypticism, which involves a divine agent or force, like Jesus or God. I believe in millennialism, a collective, total transformation of our world. I think it will encompass many strains of millenialistic varieties, including catastrophic, progressive, avertive, and environmental.

Catastrophic because it will be huge, wiping out all the humans and the civilizations and infrastructure we built.

Progressive, not for us but for the earth's entire population, because eliminating the ignorance of and damaging effects of humans will make the world a better place.

I think at one point it was avertive, but that period has long passed. The culture of the Native Americans to not only respect but celebrate nature, keeping the Earth in mind when making decisions, could (mesh) with the new world. However, the current culture of pollution, unnecessary overdevelopment and destruction, and a sense of entitlement to use the Earth as human's own personal canvas makes averting the end of the world a thing of the past.

Environmental because the unpredictable and unstable condition the earth is currently in. Destructive natural disasters and extreme weather patterns are a given recently.

In the Hunger Games, the apocalypse merely gave the human race a chance to start over, but they made the same mistakes as the first time. They exploited the ores of the Earth by mining constantly. They disregarded the costs of pollution, creating huge buildings, trains, hovercrafts, and The Capitol.
They even missed the opportunity to start a new way of treating each other, humanely, equally, progressively. This series is an example of why the new healthier world order does not include the human race.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Children of Men

Both stories occur in a futuristic dystopia with a totalitarian government, where citizen’s lives and bodies are not their property but property of the government. Violence is prevalent and children’s safety is not guaranteed. In Children of Men, the continuation of the population is threatened by the infertility of women, while in Panem, it is threatened by the mass killings of children each year in the Hunger Games combined with the extremely poor living conditions in some of the districts.

President Snow aims to control Katniss’ life and symbol of hope and use them to manipulate the public and Theo is afraid for Kee to reveal she is pregnant because he does not want the government to use her condition for their own selfish goals. The Fishes in Children of Men and District 13 in the Hunger Games are both underground anti-governmental organizations that the protagonist is central part of. However, the leader of both of these underground organizations wish to use the female protagonist for their own personal gains as well. Luke of the Fishes and Alma Coin of District 13 are both deceptive when they appear to be putting the safety and wellbeing of Kee and Katniss first.

Though Katniss “pregnancy” is a hoax, both her and Kee are with child. Peeta tries to convince the Capitol that he and Katniss are pregnant with their first child, in hopes of the Capitol and government feeling sympathy for a newly expecting mother and canceling the Third Quarter Quell games. In Children of Men, very few people go easy on Kee for being an expecting mother as well.

Katniss’ coveted trait is her ability to act masculine, shutting out female vulnerability and weakness. However, Kee‘s coveted trait is her ability to experience perhaps the most feminine thing possible: pregnancy and birth.

The Hero's Journey

The hero's journey is a set of steps most heroes go through that can be applied to most movies and books. The major steps include the departure, the initiation, and the return, but each of these steps includes detailed sub steps along the way. In addition to these steps, Dr. Mazeroff spoke about the power of fate, destiny, and archetypes.

Fate is what must happen, while destiny is how people react to fate. For example, Prim's fate is to die a premature death and Katniss is destined to postpone that death and then avenge it. Prim escapes fate when Katniss volunteers as tribute to take her place in the 74th Hunger Games. The chances of Prim winning those Hunger Games would have been slim to none. In the off chance that her and Peeta could have worked together to survive like Katniss and him did, then would not have likely survived the Quarter Quell either. Though Prim was afforded the opportunity to live longer, fate displayed its inevitable power when she died along with many other children due to the bombing in Mockingjay.

According to psychiatrist Carl Jung, archetypes are models of people, behaviors or personalities organized by the collective unconscious. The cat is an archetype for femininity. Katniss struggles with her femininity and she does not get along with Prim's cat, Buttercup. He disgust with the cat and desire for it to be out of her life is a metaphor for her wish to dismiss all the complications associated with being female, including vulnerability. Buttercup parallels Katniss in many ways- watching over and protecting Prim, disliking the Victor Village, and mourning the loss of Prim.

Another archetype prevalent in The Hunger Games is the Phoenix. This "bird on fire" goes through a constant cycle of death and rebirth. They die when it is their time and are reborn from the ashes. Katniss is also characterizes as "on fire." She is trapped in a constant cycle of battles and games. Katniss and all her hope die when her home is destroyed, but a new life for her and Peeta is born from the ashes of District 12.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gender, Relations, and Romance in the Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins has been recognized for portraying a strong female protagonist in a way that no other author successfully has. She managed to create Katniss as a strong, independent yet still emotionally vulnerable young woman. Katniss shows many traits and abilities that seem exclusively male. She hunts with a bow and arrow, can be emotionally reserved, and is essentially the "man of the house." However, she has a soft spot for her younger sister Prim and her ally Rue.

A huge aspect of gender expression is appearance, including make up and clothes. Katniss wears only grey and dark clothes and no makeup in District 12, but she is styled to be "on fire"in the Capitol.  Katniss does not feel empowered or even comfortable when Cinna and his style team make her look beautiful in the eyes. She feels most confident when they make her look powerful. Because they are of the highest social class, Cinna even being a renowned fashion designer, Capitol residents do not subscribe to the gender and dress expectations that apply to the rest of Panem. Cinna wears gold eye liner and all capitol men put a lot of time into their grooming.  This parallels high class people now, like celebrities, who are socially allowed to dress in clothes that may seem feminine or masculine.

Another proposed aspect of being a girl, according to media and teen fiction, is a preoccupation with love and men. The Bechdel test, a test used to determine if a movie is sexist, applies to an alarming number blockbusters, but not the Hunger Games. This test has three simple criteria: Are there two females in the movie? Do they talk to each other? Do they talk about something other than a man?
Katniss shatters the stereotypes if obsessive teenage girls. She has much more to think about than boys, despite the efforts of Gale and Peeta to win her attention and her love. Some may switch this stereotypical girl characterization to Peeta, viewing him as "the movie girlfriend." He loves Katniss more than life itself and needs her to rescue him multiple times. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Arab Spring and Dr. Shibley Telhami

The Arab Spring and Dr. Shibley Telhami

 According to Dr. Telhami, who has been taking polls to measure Middle Easterners' feelings about identity, after the Arab Spring, many identified more as Muslim or Arab than with their country. This shift in identity coincides with the Hunger Games. In the first book, the districts are very divided, promoted by the competitive nature of the Games and the cleverness of the Capitol. However, in Mockingjay, the citizens start to identify more as rebels and against the Capitol, than with their home district. Also, Dr. Telhami discovered that when asked which non-Arab leader they admired most, almost all answers were influenced by the leaders ability to stand up to and against Israel, even if the leader showed less than compassionate tendencies. This parallels the rebels ability to admire and follow President Coin despite her, at times, obvious evil ideas. The rebels' unacceptance of her is much smaller than their dislike of President Snow.

A huge illusion to the Arab Spring in the Hunger Games is Katniss' nickname, the girl on fire. The demonstration to kick of the rebellion in Tunisia, the very first nation to rebel in the Arab Spring, was started by  Mohamed Bouazizi in 2010. Bouazizi was working as a street vendor with a produce cart,  when a police official confiscated his tools and told him to shut it down. An hour later, he doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in the middle of traffic. This act of martyrdom started an entire period of revolution, not just in Tunisia, but in the Arab World, and parallels Katniss willingness to commit suicide with berries in the 74th Hunger Games. Interestingly, both significant events involved produce, Katniss with her nightlock berries and Bouazizi with his cart.

Sunday, March 9, 2014


The Appalachian region relates to District 12 of Panem in its culture and its literal location.

The grueling dominant profession of mining and the therapeutic culture of song and dance occur in both. Katniss' dad and Gale's dad both died in the mines, but Katniss and her father shared the love of music, specifically Appalachian songs like the Hanging Tree. This song, though gruesomely named and discussing a very sad story, was therapeutic and comforting to Katniss during Rue's death and after District 12 was destroyed. Perhaps songs ease the harsh conditions that these people live in. Even the sad songs about hanging promise a happier or more peaceful place in the future thanks to love.  On the other hand, actual Appalachian songs like the one in which a man sings about killing his girlfriend nonchalantly, almost play down the hardships of Appalachia by making it seem normal or comedic.

The founders of Appalachia, the Scotch-Irish were fierce fighters and highly independent, a description that could easily be used on Katniss. Appalachian lyrics and literature emphasize family and nature, which are very important to both Katniss and Gale. Nature is valued for its healing properties and ability to find escape in. Prim and her mom use nature to gain a vast knowledge of herbs and plants to use in medicine for every ailment or injury they encounter.  Katniss and Gale use their hunting outings in the beautiful nature of Appalachia to escape the hardships of the region.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dystopian Literature

There are eight common traits of a dystopia:
1) A dystopia is simply a utopia with one fatal flaw. In the case of Panem, the fatal flaw is the Capitol. The idea of having 12 or 13 districts, each specializing in one export due to their location and resources, has great potential for a utopian society. However, the Capitol messes up the whole system by hogging all the goods and services while supplying nothing to the districts. url.jpg

2) Stability is valued at all costs. In DIstrict 12, simple things like going to the meadow to hunt were strictly forbidden. In District 13 during the revolution, stability seemed so important that the inhabitants had to have their schedules tattooed on their arms, preventing any excuse to step out of line. When things are no longer stable, a dictator cannot be sure that all the pieces are in the places he wants them to be. Instability leads to unpredictability which can lead to a loss of power.

3) Who's interests are being served?
President Snow acts as though he is helping the districts in every way he can, providing them with stability, treating victors like superstars, and more. However, he is serving his own selfish interests while acting like those aline with the rest of Panem's best interests. He pays for the Victory Tour, and gives the Victors and their families a better house and monthly earnings, but they are now his property. Career tributes believe by winning the Games, their interests will be served. Children in District 1 and 2 train their whole lives to be these victors. They won the games, but they did not win their freedom, because they will be under Snow's control as long as Panem stays the way it is. Finnick was prostituted  and all the people Haymitch loved in his life were killed. Does that sound like their interests are being served?
4) Reflects specific societal problems or tendencies
The media and people are obsessed with tragedy. Everyone in the Capitol and everywhere in Panem wants to know every little detail about Peeta and Katniss' lives and love. When Peeta claims that Katniss is pregnant live on Cesar's show, everyone freaks out but they do not stop the Games from continuing because they love the added layer of drama. url.jpg

5) There are three 21st century dystopian common themes:
a) gap between the haves and the have-nots
The gap in the quality of life and overall economic status between the higher districts and the capitol is appalling. People are literally starving in District 12, while those living in the Capitol drink solutions that make them throw up so that they can eat more food.
b) environmental destruction
c) technological surveillance
President Snow can see everything happening in District 12. Many of the district's inhabitants are unaware of this, but Katniss knows she is being watched because Snow implies to her that he knows about the kiss between her and Gale. In the actual arena, EVERYTHING is filmed. The most sacred final seconds of children's lives are shown live to the world. 

6) Internalization of propaganda:
The traumatic Hunger Games have become a normal part of civilians lives. Though they recognize how horrible it is, the districts are not phased by the advertisements, victory tours and other propaganda the Capitol throws at them. The inhabitants of the Capitol, on the other hand, have become completely desensitized to the horror of the games. They see it purely as entertainment and cannot fathom the gravity of the situation.

7) Control of information
The Capitol controls all the information that is being received by the districts. During the rebellion, the news only shows what the Capitol wants it to show, skewing the perception of all those not involved in either District 13 or the government. The information Peeta gives is false and he is only saying those things because the Capitol tortures him.

8) Actual weapons and fear
Though actual weapons cause devastating harm and are used by many in the Hunger Games, President Snow and the Capitol's first choice for keeping the districts in line is fear. The entire reason behind the Hunger Games is to remind all those unhappy civilians that Snow can take the things you love most, and not only kill them but force you to watch. Though Snow cannot directly reach every single child through participation in the Games, he inflicts fear in every family. Every mom being forced to watch the Games knows that the tribute could be her child.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Best/Worst Book?

I most enjoyed reading the Second Book in the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire. The first book mostly consisted of an introduction of main characters, the politics of Panem, and the nature of the game, while the third book was mostly fighting and relationship conflicts. The second book included Katniss' personal issues and the bigger problems of Panem. I enjoyed Mockingjay the least and many other fans and critics share my opinion.


The last book was a bit of a disappointment in the plot development and the ending. I found the plot development slow and boring while trying to cram too many small details into one book. Some of the deaths seemed unnecessary and unfair. Though I understand Prim's death was a very emotional event that really affected Katniss, I did not find it essential to the plot and feel that they could have conveyed how horrific the violence being done to children was in a different way. The ending also seems contradictory to the object of and praise received by the series. The strong female lead character ends up married, with children. Not that her and Peeta don't deserve their happiness, but they act as though they live in a worriless world, despite the continued horror occurring in Panem and especially the Capitol.

The second book was a perfect combination of the Games, Katniss' relationships, and an evolving rebellion. This book was the most exciting to read because it switched back and forth from the calmer troubles, like the choice between Gale and Peeta and learning how to go back to normal life, and the exciting emerging problems of uprisings and Peacekeeper brutality. The arena for the 74th Hunger Games was very intriguing. Unlike the obstacles of the games in the first book which seemed a bit random, these games had a puzzle to figure out which potentially fatal challenge came next. It was fun to read along as the tributes slowly pieced the puzzle together. Suzanne Collins developed very likable characters, making it nearly impossible to not feel sympathy for Mags and Gale. Unlike in the last book, when it was harder to feel sympathy for anyone but Prim.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Compare and Contrast the Hunger Games and Catching Fire

Though both books show the cruelty of the Hunger Games and the Capitol, Catching Fire focuses more on the politics and the injustice of the system, while The Hunger Games simply portrays the tragedy of the games. The enemies of Katniss and Peeta, in their first book, are the other tributes, while their enemy in the second book is the capitol. Catching Fire feels more hopeless, with Katniss fighting against something much bigger than herself and all the victors being played with like chess pieces. In the Hunger Games, the games are an unfortunate yet inevitable part of the society in the districts. No one can escape them and though it is sad that Katniss must enter the arena, readers can take joy in the fact that Prim is safe. However, in Catching Fire, everyone is in danger at all times and everyone seems like they are losing. The Hunger Games briefly mentions the districts and some of their exports and resources, but mainly focuses on District 12. The next book gives a much more detailed account of not just the districts, but also the hard times their inhabitants are facing. The main conflict of the books transitions from District 12 tributes versus the rest of Panem to the districts versus the Capitol government, which ends up as the main conflict of the series. 

While the Hunger Games tells a brief description of the characters, politics and geography of Panem, Catching Fire lays a foundation for the revolution to come. In Catching Fire, Katniss analyzes the strength of the system when she tells President Snow “it must be very fragile, if a handful of berries can bring it down.” This statement is made shortly after the Capitol kills Seneca Kane. During Catching Fire is the first time that the Capitol is shown betraying its own people and multiple Capitol residents, like Effie, receive amicable traits, like compassion and sympathy.
The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Most Horrifying Aspect? Relates to Society?

Though they are tragic, the most horrifyingly cruel aspects of the Hunger Games aren’t the age range for tributes, or the required viewing of the arena, including watching the death of one’s own child. A child’s love of life, optimism, virtue and innocence are all stolen from them if they are chosen as tribute. Even if they escape with their life, they must live with the guilt of killing other children and the nightmares and trauma of being in the arena. Their parents and siblings are forced to watch their children either die a hero or turn into monsters.

The Hunger Games seem too horrific to be true. We dismiss them as the horrors of a future dystopian society, feeling comfortable with our “civilized” current world. However, our world is far from perfect. The Children soldiers in Central Africa and South Asia suffer through a situation that parallels the situation of tributes in the Hunger Games. According to Child Soldiers International, the definition of a child soldier is “any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group.” Many are forced into the army against their will at a young age. Most child soldiers are male and many are forced to see their homes raided and their sisters and mothers raped. Child soldiers lose their innocence at a very young age, being forced into violent behavior and murdering.
A less horrifying but similarly upsetting aspect of the Hunger Games is the alterations the residents of the Capitol make to their bodies. Suzanne Collins makes their skin and hair dyed odd colors sound unbelievably unnatural and unnecessary. The lengths people now go to in hopes of improving their appearance are just as shocking. Plastic surgery, Botox, and tanning seem so normal to us. Some women even go through the intensive procedure of altering their eyelids to make their eyes seem bigger, something that seems straight out of a dystopian novel.

The truly most horrifying aspect of the Hunger Games trilogy is how similar it is to our current society.

Which one is scarier?

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins