25 November 2020
The first time I read "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins was January 2009. I was 12 years old and I had just watched the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States of America.
The book features discussion of inequality between classes, a strong female protagonist and impactful political commentary, so, 11 years later, I continue to revisit this book annually.
Following the collapse of North American governments, the country of Panem rose from the ashes. As a country divided into 12 districts and the Capitol, modern Panem lives in the shadow of a war between the districts and the Capitol. Districts 1 through 12 are subjected to participation in the Hunger Games as a reminder of their disobedience, an annual battle royale to the death for participants aged 12 through 18.
The participants, called "tributes," are chosen by random draw at a yearly event called the "reaping." One boy and one girl from all of those eligible are chosen from each district. When a child is 12, his or her name is added to the reaping once. As the children age, their name is added to the reaping an additional time for every year; so twice at the age of 13 all the way up to seven times at the age of 18.
As readers progress through the book, they get a closer look at the disproportionate inequality between the classes, with the wealthiest members of society living in the Capitol and the poorest in District 12. The Capitol capitalises on the wealth disparity by offering food stipends in exchange for extra entries into the Hunger Games – reducing the risk of participation of wealthier citizens.
Protagonist Katniss Everdeen is 16 years old and a resident of District 12. Her participation in the 74th annual Hunger Games happens when she volunteers on behalf of her 12-year-old sister Prim, whose name was drawn at the reaping.
The now-famous quote “I volunteer as tribute!” earmarks Katniss as a strong and selfless role model for all people, as she puts her needs and safety second to those of her vulnerable sister. Instead of subjecting Prim to a formal system that was imposed on the nation rather than voted on, Katniss takes actions that create a different destiny for herself, her sister and ultimately, all of the people of Panem.
In a time when people’s political interests are piqued, adults young and old can explore a political dystopia in the Hunger Games.
This article originally appeared in the November 2020 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline "Revisiting the Hunger Games."
About the Author
Alanna Warwick-Smith is a Senior Marketing Communications Coordinator supporting the business development and real estate marketing team for Dart. Alanna has worked in Dart’s flagship development of Camana Bay for the past eight years, when she began her career working at the town’s bookstore, Books & Books. A lover of the written word, Alanna reads and writes poetry in her spare time, and has written content for a range of platforms in the past, including her own blog and Camana Bay Times.