1 University of Iowa A Necklace of Hope An Exploration of The Hunger Games as Children s Literature and its Socio-Political Influence Lori Branch Mentored Research: Thesis Project Department of English by Patricia Lynn Forg Iowa City, Iowa May 2017
2 Life imitates art far more than art imitates life. Oscar Wilde Take your broken heart, make it into art. Carrie Fisher
3 Table of Contents Introduction: Pg. 1 Children s Lit & The Hunger Games: Pg. 6 The Hunger Games & The Real World: Pg. 48 Bibliography: Pg. 56
4 1 Introduction One of the reasons that is most commonly cited as grounds to separate children s literature and young adult literature from a scholarly voice is that it is riddled with heavy handed and overt didacticism. This, however, is not a reason to overlook this literature. All literature has something of a didactic purpose even literature that perhaps should not but critics and scholars seem to take insult to the fact that children s literature and young adult literature takes such a focused approach to it. What is missing from this argument is the purpose that such didacticism serves and the capability it has to reach a massive audience. While critics and scholars may deem it to be an unworthy genre of literature, it persists in its appeal to adult audiences as much as it does to young audiences. The fact that this fiction reaches such a wide range of audiences seems to say that adults, just as much as children, seem to hunger for and even need for such literature. The validity of children s literature, however, does not come with the invalidity of children audiences. I believe that one of the many reasons adults crave such literature is because there is a universality to the experience of childhood. While it can be argued that it is impossible for adults to reach their childness after having grown up, it is possible to reach a certain level of nostalgia or understanding of such childness, and there is arguably no better way to do so than through literature. One of the many uses of literature involves empathy and the sharing of an experience (Smith 64). Narration allows the reader (or viewer) to relate to someone else s experience, even if it is vastly different from their own. The popularity of a franchise like Star Wars is a perfect example, where to this day it is easy to find anyone between the ages of ten and seventy who somehow relate to Luke Skywalker, whose father is a non-existent sith lord and who resides in space. This is because people are able to relate to very basic experiences within
5 2 that story: loneliness, naivety, the need to live up to a legacy, etc. They take looks story and use it as a way to reach their own story and learn from it. In his work Moral, Believing Animals, Christian Smith details what he believes is a basic instinct of human nature: we are believers. He dedicates a chapter to discussing how fictional narratives play a role in that belief, and he starts by examining the way that our ancestors used fiction and fire-side stories to make sense of a world they didn t understand. He says of narratives: [They] seek to convey the significance and meaning of events by situating their interaction with or influence on other events and actions in a single, interrelated account. Narratives, thus, always have a point, are always about the explanation and meaning of events and actions in human life, however simple these may be (Smith 64). By this logic, fiction itself serves as a moral ground for humans to learn from including adult literature. Fiction is influential on the whole, and I do not believe that just because children s literature is more blatant about it that it should be ignored entirely. In fact, it is one of the most important genres of literature because it is the only genre that every literate person has come across. Smith also argues that we not only are animals who make and tell narratives but also animals who are told and made by our narratives They situate us in reality itself, by elaborating the contours of fundamental moral order (Smith 78). Smith is not the only scholar to feel this way. Scholar Vigen Guroian discusses the importance of children s literature in the development of what he refers to as the moral imagination. Children s literature provides a basis with which children can begin to understand the difference between right and wrong, and teach them to empathize with others. Such moral lessons, Guroian argues, are most effectively taught through fiction due to the fact that it gives children the opportunity to see themselves in a fictional character and empathize with another
6 3 person. This nurtures a mind that will allow them to see other people as full human beings, much like the characters in children s books they relate to. Some of today s most common worldwide phenomena, the names of which are known by even those who have no interest whatsoever in their content, are almost consistently in the genre of children s or young adult literature. Some of the most memorable to date are Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, and (notably), Harry Potter. One of the most recently added to this list is Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games trilogy, which debuted with its first novel in 2008, with the following two novels proceeding in the two years after. It gained rapid acknowledgement, becoming a staple addition to YA bookshelves, and it was no surprise when the first film was released in 2012 to raving reviews and an even larger spike in popularity. It is around this time that people began to compare The Hunger Games to staples such as Harry Potter, not because of a similarity in content, but because of a similarity in reception. The unique quality that all of these vastly different fictional pieces share is the wide net they cast in connecting with an incredible range of age-groups. This can prove problematic in many ways, due almost entirely to the fact that the identification of children s literature is commonly brought into question, and there has never been an agreed upon formula with which to organize information and decipher how to classify children s literature. Some have argued that it is, simply, books that are read by children but when the same books are willingly consumed (and enjoyed by) adults, this form of classification would put it under the net of, simply, literature, rather than children s literature. And if this is the case, what, then, becomes of children s literature? In this thesis I will be exploring The Hunger Games as children s literature and how it (children s literature & THG specifically) functions in a socio-political context. Overall I hope to
7 4 examine the importance and validity of children s literature exactly as it is, without having to disguise it as adult in any form. I will use The Hunger Games franchise in order to explore that by examining its content and its effect on the world. I will also be citing other instances of influential children s literature to underline my base argument. I will discuss many arguments made concerning this matter, including an essay by Mara Gubar, who believes that children s literature should not even be considered in its own classified genre (specifically, that children s should be taken out of the title completely, so as not to ghetto-ize its content from people seeking plainly literature ). I will also discuss Vaklavic, who believes that children s literature cannot be classified. Gubar believes that it should be brought into conversation with literature (or adult literature ) in order for it to be considered just as scholarly / literary / worthwhile as literature consumed by scholars. While the place from which both of these are coming from is a good one, I will argue that neither one is a sufficient way to deal with children s literature. I believe that children s literature stands on its own, and it is not up to us to change its content or title in order to make it seem more scholarly, but up to scholars to look past the degradation of the word children as an adjective and recognize its literary value. This literary value can be seen on a global scale to a point where it becomes almost impossible not to see its worth, unless you don t want to see its worth. In my first chapter, I will be discussing children s literature and its treatment in the scholarly world, with emphasis to criticism that children s literature falls into a category of overwhelming didacticism. I argue that children s literature can be moral and meaningful without being dismissed as didactic. In the second chapter I will discuss THG specifically, detailing the different qualities of the series that make it a working example of children s literature and evidential of the validity of
8 5 children s literature as a part of the literary canon. I will be discussing THG on a larger scale, detailing examples from the books and the films as the two cannot be discussed separately when talking about the function of CL in society. Not only should the role of film not be understated in today s world but the film s aren t just an aside to the books they work together with the books and expand the world. The movies have the opportunity to pull away from our first person perspective of Katniss and give the audience a glimpse of the wider world of Panem and the people who inhabit it so that we can better understand what this whole thing is about. In the third chapter I will get into the socio-political context that THG (and, by extension, children s literature) is functioning at. Children s literature is so available to people and THG really exceeded that achieving huge popularity in a very politically active time in modern history. I will discuss a few specific examples where we see the use of THG/CL in action, including as a symbol of revolution against a militarized government coup in Thailand and retaliation to police brutality in Ferguson.
9 6 I. IN PANEM On Children s Literature Since genres have been an understood identifying factor of literature, literary experts have not been able to find definitive and universally acknowledged identifiers for children s literature. There are a hundred different ways to classify children s literature, and one complication, especially in modern days, is trying to sort the difference between children s literature and young adult literature. This line is often blurred, and it usually comes down to a parent to decide whether or not a book off the young adult shelf is acceptable for a child. One of the most widely known examples of this is the Harry Potter series; these books, in a colloquial sense, are often considered for children in the beginning, but more adult as the series gradually becomes darker and more intense. The same question can be asked of The Hunger Games, which was the next big phenomenon following the then-conclusion of Harry Potter. It was often categorized in a similar fashion due to its vast fan-base and the way it became such a global phenomenon. Yet its themes are, in many ways, significantly darker than the themes found in Harry Potter, and it is much more gruesome. While the two are often separated, the website for The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutes (IFLA) blurs that line, going so far as to offer a library service titled, Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section (IFLA). A website called Common Sense Media offers an outlet for parents and children to review books and movies, and rate them based on the age groups they would be most appropriate for. The entire Harry Potter series has a page dedicated entirely to its age-range evolution, starting at the ages 6-7 and gradually progression to ages Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book in the Potter series, generally seems to be considered the most adult.
10 7 On Common Sense Media (CSM), its average reading age is 12+, in line with parental ratings, where kids rated it at 10+. Under the section what parents need to know the book is rated at 3/5 educational value, 4/5 positive messages, 4/5 positive role models, 3/5 violence, 1/5 sex, 1/5 language, 1/5 consumerism, and 2/5 drinking, drugs, & smoking. The Hunger Games series, unfortunately, does not have such a page dedicated to its three novels put together, so for the sake of this thesis, I will only refer to the first novel. The first book also has an average age rating of 12, being rated at 13+ by parents, and 11+ by kids. The what parents need to know section rates it at 3/5 educational value, 4/5 positive messages, 4/5 positive role models, 3/5 violence, 1/5 sex, 0/5 language, 0/5 consumerism, and 2/5 drinking, drugs, & smoking. The majority of these ratings line up with the last Harry Potter book, save for language and consumerism, which are both lower by a single mark in The Hunger Games than The Deathly Hallows. However, because I am looking at The Hunger Games as children s literature, I will be putting my focus on the age rating that children gave it, which would place The Hunger Games being appropriate for ages 11 and up. Scholastic also rates The Hunger Games, sixth grade being its lowest reading level (Scholastic). When comparing these two sources, the common denominators seem to agree that children s literature qualifies up to the age of 12, where young adult literature begins at the age of 12. According to these assumptions and the fact that The Hunger Games was rated at 11+ for children by children, it can be considered children s literature, yet it is shelved in the young adult section of most book stores. Many would argue that this is a result of the violence within the novel, despite it having the same rating on CSM as the final Harry Potter book. Violence, however, is not an uncommon theme in children s literature throughout history. There are a number of authors famous for translating/writing fairytales, namely Charles Perrault, Hans
11 8 Christen Anderson, and Angela Carter, but the most famous are the tales recorded and translated by the Grimm brothers. After the failure of their first publication, which was aimed primarily at scholars, the brothers went back and edited the collection, designing the collection more specifically to be bedtime reading for children (Tatar 343). This was done by extending the stories and editing the content of the material itself. Wilhelm Grimm took out every phrase unsuitable for children so any allusions to sex (especially premarital sex), directly or indirectly, were deleted from the stories, while the violence was both preserved and intensified (Tatar, 344). This violent presence in fairy-tales is not an isolated event: fairy-tales from around the world and translated by many authors are all notoriously violent. The Grimm s are responsible for Fitcher s Bird and The Robber Bridgeroom, which are variations of the incredibly violent Bluebeard, originally published and translated in 1697 by Charles Perrault. In her essay, Goodbye Ghetto, Kiera Vaclavik argues that the only way to stop the ghettoization of children s literature is by bringing it into conversation with adult literature. She criticizes both ends of a spectrum: those who believe that children s literature should be isolated and studied on its own away from adult literature, and those who believe that children s literature isn t a genre worth studying at all, or is below adult literature. She does criticize specialists who are seeking to carve out a distinct discipline and have often strategically insisted on the specificity of children s literature (Vaclavik, 203). Vaclavik uses an example of a review written about Philip Pullman s His Dark Materials, where the reviewer criticizes the author for saying that he has rewritten Paradise Lost. The reviewer talks down to children s literature in a way that suggests that it not only should not, but cannot be compared with adult literature, which she clearly considers to be above children s literature. Vaclavik claims that
12 9 the only way of putting children s literature in a place where it can be taken seriously alongside other forms of literature, is by positioning it in a broad cultural context (Vaclavik, 204). However, while bringing it into conversation with adult literature may make it more available for scholars, it is not the only way, nor is it the best way, to bring it into that conversation. The catering of reading children s literature to an audience who does not recognize its integrity does a disservice to the literature itself. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology shows that reading the Harry Potter books improves attitudes towards stigmatized groups (immigrants, homosexuals, refugees) (Journal of Applied Social Psychology). Academia may ignore it, but children s literature is more relevant than it has ever been, and mostly dominates our modern culture. Some of the most widely known and read books are children s (or young adult), because everyone, at some point in their life, has been exposed to it. Children s literature s earliest form is fairytales, which started out as an oral tradition. This made fairytales available to peasants and the middle class, who did not have access to education and therefor were not literate. Since its inception, children s literature has one of the most historically consistent forms of literature available to anybody and everybody, without discriminating class, race, or gender distinctions. This means that, to this day, it is the only universal literary language. This makes children s literature far less exclusive than what scholars consider high literature. C.S. Lewis explores this topic in his writings. Before there was a distinction between children s literature and adult literature there was just stories told around fires or dinner tables or in palaces. C.S. Lewis explores this topic in his writings. In one of his essays, On Three Ways of Writing for Children, Lewis discusses three ways in which he and others write for children, the worst of which is writing a story with the intent of it being a children s story. He
13 10 describes the writing form that he uses, which is not to capitalize on the fact that it is a story he wants to be consumed by children, but writing a children s story because a children s story is the best art-form for something you have to say (Lewis 32). Lewis also argues, very aptly, that critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves (Lewis 34). Perhaps a more successful way to bring children s literature into conversation is to recognize the way it is being taken seriously not by scholars, but by the masses. This is not just limited to masses of children or the age groups that the books apparently cater to; people of all ages and across the globe have found meaning in them. One of the many reasons that scholars look down upon children s literature, as Vaklavic points out, is due to its overutilitarian didacticism in the past (Vaklavic 203). It is not didacticism that seems to be the problem, because an argument can be made for didacticism being present in every piece of literature ever written, but the fact that its usage is considered to be more overt than in what is considered adult literature. This didacticism likely stems from the way classic fairytales were collected, edited, and published during the early modern period and the Enlightenment. For instance, the tales which were published by Charles Perrault were always followed by a moral written in the form of a poem after the story (in fact, Bluebeard is followed by two moral lessons). This is not, however, a reason to turn backs on children s literature. Tatar observes that the complicated nature of Perrault s protagonists suggests that his tales may transmit more powerfully than a naïve morality that rewards good behavior (Tatar, 349). With that in mind, didacticism does not diminish the integrity of children s literature as a genre, but increases the availability of these moral messages, making it a strength rather than a weakness. In his scholarly study of the relationship between fairy tales and the moral imagination, Tending the Heart of Virtue, ethicist
14 11 and theologian Vigen Guroian argues for the moral value of children s literature, adding that the deep truths of a good story, especially fairy tales, cannot be revealed through discursive analysis otherwise, why tell the story? Rather, these truths must be experienced through the story itself and savored in the immediacy of the moment (Guroian 16). This active audience that Guroian refers to should ultimately be the determining factor of the genre s validity as an important part of literature and society. Didacticism, however, changes over time and by author in both style and execution. For example, Perrault took fairytales and put them into a courtly culture that valued a stylized literary form and whimsical touches (Tatar, 348). The Grimm brothers work was written with the intent of portraying German nationalism, suggesting that they may have selected and edited the stories that best suited their end goal. To add to this controversy, they also admitted to not making broad inquiries, which, Tatar points out, suggests that rather than being illiterate peasants, the vast majority of their informants were literate women from their own social class (Tatar 343). Guroian argues that the reason for the success of children s literature as a moral guide is because mere instruction in morality is not sufficient to nurture the virtues ; instead, it is more effective to give a compelling vision that is attractive and stirs the imagination (Guroian 20). As society becomes more candid about a wider array of issues, children are being exposed to more than they ever have been before. In this way, didacticism in children s literature has taken on a complex role in society, tackling more complicated topics. Children s literature is no longer limited in sources and focuses on more than just the extremely poor or extremely rich. Rather, it offers an abundance of voices that are suited for a more modern audience, spanning over different classes, races, sexualities, and even introducing characters with mental illnesses.
15 12 The Hunger Games takes this challenge head-on, tackling a number of complex issues for its readers to learn from. Not only does it give a voice to the lower class through the majority of the main characters (Katniss, Primrose, Gale, Rue, etc), it also offers a critical perspective on other classes through the narration (Katniss perception of other tributes and Capitol citizens). The Hunger Games tackles topics that more classic children s literature does not even approach due to the content being considered too adult, for instance war, politics, revolution, forced prostitution (sexual and non-sexual), sacrifice, and sudden and violent familial loss. These become acceptable in a form of children s literature because it emphasizes the importance of themes of family and friendship that are the real heart of their moral lessons. It gives a nonviolent and virtuous window with which children can learn about this kind of subject matter. Entering Panem: The Overall Plot The Hunger Games opens up in the voice of a sixteen-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen who lives in a country that was once North America called Panem, made up of twelve districts and a Capitol. Seventy-four years before the start of the first novel, there were thirteen districts, but District 13 lead a rebellion against the Capitol in pursuit of freedom but they lost, and the Capitol destroyed the entire district. In response to the rebellion, the Capitol created The Hunger Games, which calls for a male and female between the ages of eleven and seventeen to be chosen as tribute to fight to the death in a televised game of combat, until there is only one survivor. This survivor will be showered with gifts and their family will be moved to a designated area of the district called the Victor s Village, complete with privileges and food that the rest of the people in their district are not privy to. People of the poorer districts are often starving, and are given the option to sign up for tesserae putting their names into the lottery more times in exchange for stale bread from the Capitol.
16 13 Katniss sneaks into the woods to meet her friend Gale, where they both regularly hunt illegally so they can sell their kills, often in exchange for food. They are both signed up for tesserae, and together they debate the merits of having children in this world or running away entirely. Katniss little sister, Primrose Prim, is only eleven, and it is her first reaping her name is only in the drawing once. Prim s name is picked by the District Eleven escort, Effie Trinket, and Katniss volunteers to take her sister s place in the games. Peeta Mellark, the baker s boy, is chosen as the male tribute much to Katiss horror, as he once saved her and her family s life by throwing her a burnt loaf of bread instead of feeding it to the pigs like his cruel mother instructed. After the reaping, Katniss is allowed to say goodbye to her family, where she is visited by her mother and Prim, Peeta s dad (who promises to take care of Prim), and the mayor s daughter, Madge Undersee. Madge frantically gives Katniss a golden pin emblazoned with a mockingjay. Katniss promises to wear the pin in the arena. She and Peeta are hustled onto the train that will bring them to the Capitol, where they will be prepared to fight in the games. They meet Haymitch Abernathy, their mentor who is a drunkard and the only living victor of District 12. Haymitch tells them that the best piece of advice he can give is to stay alive. When they arrive in the eclectic Capitol they are handed over to their prep teams, who are to make them presentable and henceforth be their make-up artists and fashion designers to make sure they are camera ready in Capitol style. Katniss stylist is named Cinna, and he creates for her and Peeta black outfits that will engulf them in fake fire, as a representation of their District s coal-mining. During the tribute parade, wherein the tributes from each district are presented to rich Capitol citizens who will be choosing who to support and donate to throughout the games, Katniss and Peeta steal the show with their flaming outfits and by holding hands.
17 14 All twenty-four tributes go through training for the games, and practice everything from how to make fires and snares to how to handle weapons. During this time, Haymitch becomes a proactive mentor, constantly working with them to hone their skills and teach them tips. They are also prepared to make an appearance on a show hosted by an eccentric man named Caesar Flickerman, where they will deliver rapid interviews for their adoring audiences. In Katniss interview, she talks about volunteering for her sister, and Cinna has once again put her in a dress that lights up in flames when she spins. After Katniss, Peeta is interviewed, and in his interview he confesses his love for Katniss, creating the star-crossed lovers of District Twelve. Finally, every tribute must show their skills to the gamemakers who create the arena in which they are all to fight, and get publicly rated on a scale of 12. Katniss shows off her archery but the gamemakers have stopped paying attention, so she shoots at the pig they are eating. This causes a stir amongst the gamemakers and she is ultimately given an eleven, making her one of the deadliest victors that others will look out for. When the Games begin, Katniss picks up a bag from the Cornucopia that provides her with a few essentials to survival. She spends the first part of the games hunting and constantly moving, sleeping in trees and trying to keep to herself. She ends up running into a group of victors that want her dead, including Peeta, and she releases a nest of tracker jackers similar to wasps onto them to get them away. The tracker jackers end up killing one of the tributes that were after her. From this point on she creates an alliance with an eleven-year-old girl named Rue, who teaches her about how mockingjays pick up on tunes and sing them back. Together they decide to blow up the other victors food and weapon stash, which ends up being a success, but Rue is killed in the process. It is at this point that Katniss makes her first direct kill in
18 15 response, and after singing to Rue while the little girl died, she held a pseudo-funeral by covering her in flowers and giving her a District 12 salute. It is announced that two tributes can win the games if they are both from the same District, and Katniss immediately sets out to find Peeta. When she finds him he is seriously injured with a very infected leg wound, and they hide in a cave, where Katniss attempts to nurse him back to health. In this cave they weave their star-crossed lovers story in order to win over the hearts of audiences in the hopes that sponsors will send them food or medicine from the Capitol. Katniss is able to retrieve medicine for Peeta but is targeted by another tribute, who is killed by Thresh, a friend of Rue who was reaped from the same district. Thresh let s Katniss live because of what she did for Rue. Katniss nurses Peeta back to health and they leave the cave. The gamemakers finally release a pack of mutts created just for the games large vicious dogs whose sole purpose is to kill the last living tributes. Katniss and Peeta just escape death from them after a confrontation with another antagonistic tribute, Cato, who is not so lucky. Cato is tortured by the dogs all through the night and Katniss ends up shooting him to put him out of his misery. When this happens, Katniss and Peeta are the last living victors, but it is announced that the new rule which would allow them to both go home has been redacted. Instead of killing each other, Katniss suggests they both eat poisonous nightlock berries and both die so that the Capitol does not get their winner, and before they can swallow the deadly berries, it is announced that they are now allowed to both be victors. In the next novel, Catching Fire, Katniss and her family move to the victor s village, with Peeta and his family nearby. Katniss is out hunting wild turkeys with Gale, and when she shoots at one, she flashes back to killing the boy who killed Rue in the Games. Gale kisses her before they part, and upon returning home, Katniss is informed that President Snow has come to speak
19 16 to her. Snow informs Katniss that her actions with the nightlock berries have sparked rebellions all around Panem, and tells her that she is responsible for convincing the people of Panem that the love story is true in an attempt at bringing the rebellion to a stop. Katniss observes that while Snow smells like roses due to the fragrant white rose on his lapel, his breath smells like blood. A new team of peacekeepers are brought into the district, and they reinforce the rules with brute force and public whippings. Gale falls victim to this act, and Katniss is filmed trying to save him. Katniss and Peeta go on their victory tour with Haymitch and Effie. Their first stop is District Eleven, where they address the families of Rue and Thresh, and Peeta promises to give them portions of their winnings. An old man in the crowd repeats Katniss mockingjay whistle from the Games and raises the three-fingered salute, for which he is executed. For the rest of the tour Peeta and Katniss follow scripts perfectly and play the roles they are meant to play. In their fear of Snow, they decide to publicly get engaged in order to make the right impression to him. Despite their efforts they are not successful, and by the time they make it to the president s mansion and even meet Plutarch Heavensbee, the new head gamemaker, Snow makes it clear that they have been unsuccessful. It is announced by President Snow that the Games for that year will be reaping previous victors, and in Twelve, the only victors around are Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch. Katniss begs Haymitch to volunteer if Peeta gets reaped, and he agrees. When the reaping comes around, Haymitch s name is picked, and Peeta volunteers. In response, the district holds up the threefingered salute, and they are carted off without the opportunity to say goodbye to their families. On the train to the Capitol they are informed of the other victors-turned-tributes that they will be facing together.
20 17 In the Capitol they are put to through the same system they were put through before, and Cinna once again dresses Katniss and Peeta in flames for the tributes parade. They train like they did before, and while Peeta and Haymitch want to pair with the stronger tributes, Katniss attaches herself to Wiress an Beetee, who are eccentric and anti-social, and Mags, an old woman with no teeth. During interviews with Caesar Flickerman, the tributes all make an effort to persuade the public to cause such an uproar that the games will be cancelled. Katniss wears her wedding dress to the interview, and tells Caesar and the cloud that she is once again wearing the flames. She spins and the wedding dress burns away, leaving behind a dress made to resemble a mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion. Peeta tells the world that he and Katniss secretly got married in District 12, and that Katniss is currently pregnant. The games persist and they are herded into the new arena. On her way up to the surface, Katniss pod takes its time, and she is forced to watch Capitol officials come into the room and beat and presumably kill Cinna. This takes her off guard and disorients her for the start of the games. She and Peeta end up allying themselves with Mags and the young man from her district, Finnick. They are together alone throughout the first half of the games, despite the fact that Katniss does not trust Finnick whatsoever. Finnick saves Peeta s life, however, reaffirming their alliance and earning Katniss trust. Mags is killed by poisonous fog, and Finnick, Peeta, and Katniss end up meeting with a woman from District Seven, Johanna, along with Wiress and Beetee. Wiress helps them figure out that the arena is in the shape of a clock, which gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee seemed to hint at when he met Katniss, but Wiress is killed almost immediately after this. Beetee develops a plan to take out the dangerous victors, which involves Katniss and Peeta splitting up.
21 18 The plan ends up going awry, and ends with Katniss shooting an electrified arrow to the sky of the arena, destroying it and immediately losing consciousness. When she wakes up she is on a hovercraft with Haymitch, Finnick, and Plutarch, who tell her that she has been rescued and is being escorted to the rebellion headquarters in District Thirteen, which still exists underground. When she asks about Peeta she is informed that they were unable to rescue him from the arena, and that he has been captured along with Johanna by the Capitol. The book ends with Katniss in District Thirteen, being informed by Gale that her sister and mother are safe, and that the Capitol has bombed and destroyed District Twelve. The Full Effect: Letting Page & Screen Work Together It is impossible to discuss The Hunger Games without discussing the movies. Not only did the movies expand the franchise s popularity, broadening the audience, but they lead to significant real-world uses of the literature. Fortunately, the films and books work well together, and rather than losing anything in the films, they manage to supplement a lot of information that otherwise would not be available. One of the defining traits of The Hunger Games book series is that it is written entirely in first person perspective. Collins does this masterfully, working Katniss perspective in a way that strengthens her narrative. This does, however, limit the way in which the story can be told, and limits what the readers are allowed to know about the world in which we are put into. The limited perspective constricts the reader, bringing forward the issue of unreliable narrators so that not everything that is being read can be believed at face value. There is also the problematic issue of things that are happening off scene that neither Katniss nor the reader are aware of. Unfortunately, many of these off scene moments are important and play a pivotal role in moving the story forward. The films have the opportunity to take us out of Katniss head, which allows us to see exactly what is happening throughout Panem at face value,
22 19 so that we as an audience have the option to make our own judgements about how we want to view them. While opening up the perspective broadens filmmakers opportunity for narrative, films also have restrictive properties that the book did not have that the filmmakers would have had to work around in order to keep the narrative integrity from the books. Because of this, throughout the rest of this thesis, I will discuss scenes that are both in the books and the films. Sometimes they are added scenes in the movie or discussing the changes made between the two and how they affect or enhance the story as children s literature. As Children s Literature: Music in Panem A staple of children s literature since its beginnings is music, which generally serves as a way to touch base with the moral story that is being woven. Even fairy tales that have been adapted for screen by Walt Disney Studios have been turned into musicals for children, using songs to get stories and ideas across in a memorable way. In an article titled Integrating Music and Children s Literature, arts educator Joanna Calogero says that, combining music and literature helps children learn some of the different ways that ideas and emotions can be expressed creatively (Calogero, 23). This is characteristic of music within children s literature (from The Giant s Heart to Harry Potter) which is most often used in order to highlight a certain lesson. Music also most often serves a higher purpose, and move the story forward in a way it wouldn t have before the music was used. It is with this in mind that I approach the songs within The Hunger Games. The first song we encounter in the first book does not have words, and readers are left to guess the melody. Katniss eleven-year-old ally, Rue, sings a four-note tune, which is sung back by the mockingjays around them. This tune is used as a signal between the two allies, so that they can find each other again after they complete their plan to deplete the mountain of supplies
23 20 that are being hoarded by other tributes. These four notes are a sort of secret code, and bond the two together in their alliance. They are also the four notes that Rue sings at home to signal to her fellow workers in District 11, which allows this action to serve as a sort of initiation of Katniss into their unofficial pseudo family. The real significance of these notes is not fully realized, however, until after Rue dies. The first lyrical song in the series is in the first novel and is a lullaby called Deep in the Meadow, which Katniss sings while Rue dies. It is Rue s last request, and Katniss obliges, despite barely being able to keep herself together. She chooses this song because the words are easy and soothing, promising tomorrow will be more hopeful than this awful piece of time we call today (The Hunger Games, 234). The lyrics are as follows: Deep in the meadow, under the willow A bed of grass, a soft green pillow Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes And when again they open, the sun will rise. Here it s safe, here it s warm Here the daisies guard you from every harm Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true Here is the place where I love you. Deep in the meadow, hidden far away A cloak of leaves, a moonbeam ray Forget your woes and let your troubles lay And when again it s morning, they ll wash away. Here it s safe, here it s warm Here the daisies guard you from every harm Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true Here is the place where I love you. (The Hunger Games, ) In Mockingjay, shortly after Katniss fails spectacularly at filming a propaganda piece, Haymitch asks the rebels to think of a moment in which Katniss Everdeen genuinely moved them, and Boggs cuts in with: When she sang the song. While the little girl died (Mockingjay,
24 21 75). This funeral song holds impact for characters throughout the book: it moved them. It is not the lyrics themselves that provides the significance of this action, but the moment and intent with which it takes place. This is for two reasons: it can be tracked as the moment that sparks the rebellion, and it shows Katniss kindness and how that goes against everything that the Capitol tries to promote. This hails directly back to Guroian s theory on the moral imagination as it creates a moment of compassion that creates a striking moral image that is meaningful both for the characters in the novel and for readers. If the rebellion was sparked by this moment, it did not start only because of an act of violence it started because of an act of love. In fact, all of the moments that are mentioned by the characters are acts of kindness and love from Katniss: volunteering for her sister when Prim s name was read off at the reaping, singing for Rue, drugging Peeta so that she could save his life, kissing him goodbye, allying herself with Rue, trying to carry Mags to save her life, loving Peeta, and holding out the berries that meant different things to different people (Mockingjay, 75). Because of Katniss actions, the rebellion becomes a symbol of love, and she becomes a symbol of love in defense of the hatred perpetuated by the Capitol. In Mockingjay, when she becomes the face of the rebellion, she reveals to the reader: What they want is for me to truly take on the role they designed for me. The symbol of the revolution. The Mockingjay (Mockingjay 10). This also creates a discrepancy between Katniss role as someone trying to help the people she loves and Katniss as the symbol carefully designed in service of the revolution. The latter is dangerous as it is poisoned by the use of violence, which is shown explicitly throughout the narrative. This reinforces the moral that underlines the whole story. The mockingjay itself has a few different meanings in the books. Its origins are explained in Catching Fire, where Katniss reveals where mockingjays come from. The Capitol created a
25 22 muttation called a jabberjay, which was intended to be used for the secret passing of information so that the Capitol could be privy to secrets from rebel camps. The rebels realized what was happening and before the Capitol realized it, rebels were using jabberjays against them by having them relay incorrect information. They intended for the jabberjays to go extinct, but before they did, they mated with mockingbirds, which created the mockingjay, a creature the Capitol never intended to exist. In the same breath, Katniss says that the Capitol hadn t anticipated [the mockingjay s] will to live (Catching Fire, 92). But this is not how the mockingjay is first introduced in the series. The mockingjay is introduced in the first book in two instances. The first is when Katniss recognizes the bird on the pin Madge gives her as a mockingjay, which she associates with her father, saying it s like having a piece of my father with me, protecting me (The Hunger Games, 44). The pin reminds her of her father because, during her childhood, he used to sing in the forest, and his voice was so beautiful that when he sings even the birds stop to listen (The Hunger Games, 296). Rue is the next character to introduce the bird to us, and she describes a peaceful scene with mockingjays from her home in District 11, adding, They can be dangerous though, if you get too near their nests. But you can t blame them for that (The Hunger Games, 212). Our first interaction with the mockingjay, which is to become a symbol of the rebellion, is one of family, togetherness, and the desire to protect. It is not just Katniss will to survive that sets her apart and turns her into the Mockingjay: it is her need to protect her friends and family, despite the Capitol s work to extinguish this selflessness through the ordeal of the games. When Katniss sings this lullaby for Rue, it becomes the crux of her character from that moment on, and reveals who she is to the world. The reason this moment is so moving to the characters and the reader is because it shows a certain level of solidarity for characters within the
26 23 story, from all walks of life. Katniss brings up many times that Rue reminds her of Prim, despite their physical differences. She noticefs it first in the first novel when she observes the other tributes she will be facing in the arena, saying that she has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she s very like Prim in size and demeanor (The Hunger Games, 45). The next time Katniss makes this comparison is in the second novel, when she s addressing Rue s family during the victory tour and tells them: but most of all, I see her in my sister, Prim (Catching Fire, 61). Even Capitol citizens would have found this moment powerful; in the film, it is actually Effie Trinket who cites the lullaby as a moment that Katniss moved her. This is a particularly moving decision due to the fact that Effie is a Capitol citizen who, in the beginning, was watching the Games like a reality show just like the rest of her community, and this is a clear expression of emotion and understanding that the kids in the Games are people, not just entertainment. After singing this lullaby to Rue, she performs a sort of funeral, surrounding Rue s body in bright, colorful flowers, and pressing the three middle fingers of her left hand to her lips before lifting them to the sky. It is a symbol from her home in District 12, which means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love (The Hunger Games 24). Through this action, Katniss expressly shows love towards another tribute from another district, which goes completely against the ideology that President Snow is trying to create. This ideology is a violent one that assumes the idea that tributes want to rip each other apart, that the violence and cultivated selfishness that is taking place is for the glory of the Capitol and therefore the betterment of Panem. This ideology is perpetuated by the upper class districts that are located closer to the Capitol, like District 1, District 2, and District 4, which are all known for producing career tributes. These are the kids from the wealthier districts, the volunteers, the ones who have been fed and trained throughout their lives for this moment (The Hunger Games,
27 24 94). Even Katniss volunteering for Prim at the reaping can be misconstrued to fit this narrative, as Effie Trinket s first response is, I bet my buttons that was your sister. Don t want her to steal all the glory, do we? (The Hunger Games, 23). This goes to show how successful President Snow s narrative is, and more so, how effectively Capitol citizens have been convinced of the benefits of such violence and discrimination, even when being faced with evidence that says otherwise. It is for this reason that Katniss behavior in the arena stands out to the rest of Panem, as Katniss goes out of her way to stay true to herself and to remain aware of the fact that it is the Capitol she should hate for perpetuating this violence and making it attractive to begin with. She exhibits this by showing some form of love or, even more often, sympathy for the other tributes when she is expected to want to kill them. This is established early on in the first book, when Haymitch watches the entrance that she and Peeta made, holding hands and smiling, and says that it is just the perfect touch of rebellion (The Hunger Games, 79). Katniss considers this as well, observing how different she and Peeta had been from the other tributes, presenting ourselves not as adversaries but as friends (The Hunger Games, 79). In the arena itself, Katniss openly develops a significant relationship with other tributes, whether it is on a more emotional level, as with Rue and Peeta, or even more subtly. It would have been easy for her to show hatred towards the boy from District 1 who killed Rue, especially given the relationship Katniss had developed with her, but even she says: To hate the boy from District 1, who also appears so vulnerable in death, seems inadequate (The Hunger Games, 236). This is made clear to the rest of the audience as well, when Katniss opts to turn her hate towards the Capitol through Rue s funeral. She does this by showing love and respect for Rue, staying by her side and picking flowers nearby so that the Capitol cannot take her body away and
28 25 hide what Katniss was trying to do. This attitude can be seen throughout the books, as even in the first half of Mockingjay, she has a traumatic flashback about a tribute that could have been perceived as antagonistic by any other character: [ ] before the muttations broke through the trees, chased us onto the Cornucopia, and slowly gnawed Cato to a bloody pulp (Mockingjay, 122). When she performs Rue s funeral, she does so in a conscious effort to make [the Capitol] accountable (The Hunger Games, 237). She knows that the gamemakers will have no choice but to broadcast the funeral or at the very least its final product for all of Panem to see. This act of defiance against the Capitol immediately follows the lullaby that Katniss sings to Rue as she dies. At the end, she stands beside Rue s body and holds up her three-fingered salute. It is this action that changes the salute so that it is no longer a good-bye to someone you love, and turns it into an act of rebellion a way to show the Capitol that there is a part of everyone that they can t own (The Hunger Games, 234). We see more depth to this moment in the film as well, with an actual visual portrayal of the effect this moment has on viewers in that exact moment something I will discuss further later. The next song in the series is performed by Katniss in the third and final book, when she is asked to sing by the mute character, Pollux. Like Deep in the Meadow, she learned The Hanging Tree from her father, and when she introduces the song in the text she says that it is forbidden (Mockingjay, 123). Though it is not made clear whether she means forbidden by the Capitol or by her mother, the former is more likely than the latter, due to textual clues that suggest her father may have had a hand somehow with the rebellion, as well as the broader cultural context in which the song fits. The lyrics are as follows: Are you, are you Coming to the tree Where they strung up a man they say who murdered three. Strange things did happen here