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Hunger Games

Page history last edited by Kaitie 9 years, 3 months ago

The Hunger Games

by Suzanne Collins



 Plot Summary

     Hunger Games was written by Suzanne Collins, published in 2008, and is the first installment of a trilogy. The different time period and settings, along with the advanced technology that Collins has created puts the book into the science fiction category.


     This book is set in a post-apocalyptic America named Panem and the 12 Districts are controlled by The Capitol in a dictator-like government.  In the twelfth district lives a sixteen year-old girl with her depressed mother and younger sister Prim - her name is Katniss Everdeen.  The Everdeen family lives in the poorest district where their main source of anything and everything is coal mining.  Five years ago Katniss's father was killed in a mining accident, following his death her mother became depressed and withdrew from her apothecary job and the rest of the district.  Following these events, Katniss became the primary caregiver for her mother and sister, making sure that if they had food her mother and sister would eat what she would give them.  But in District 12 food is hard to come by when there is so little money.  Because of this Katniss and her friend Gale, who also lost his father in the same accident, illegally hunt in the wooded area outside their district border and bring home their own game.  Some they use to trade for other items their families need while others they use directly. “District 12, where you can starve to death in safety.”


     Because of a past rebellion led by a 13th district, which is now destroyed, the Capitol controls everything about each and every district.  They can control the availability of food and crush any disobedience or rebellion in one fell swoop – The Hunger Games.  Each child after the age of 12 must put their name into there district’s lottery, if you want more food you put in your name more than once (this is called tesserae).  There’s just one catch.  The more times that your name is entered, the more likely you are to be called.  Once you are called you become a Tribute of the annual Hunger Games.  In these games 24 children, 2 from each district, 1 boy 1 girl, face different terrain and weather (both of nature and of Capitol creation) in a large arena.  Here the Tributes are pitted against each other to fight to the death until only one is left alive and thereby named the victor.  The games are also broadcast live to all of Panem so that everyone can see by example that what is happening to each tribute could ultimately happen to them if they ever choose to rebel.


     Prim, her first time being entered into District 12's lottery, is chosen - but refusing to let her innocent sister enter such an arena Katniss takes her place in the 74th annual Hunger Games.  When Katniss steps forward only the Capitol escort, Effie Trinket, is cheering; the rest of the district remains silent - slighting the Capitol in a way that they cannot punish.  Following Katniss the second Tribute is chosen - 16 year old Peeta Mellark.  Katniss remembers him as the boy with the bread from a memorable childhood event where, essentially, he saved her and her family's lives.  Because of this Katniss feels that she already owes him a favor, even before the Games start.  She doesn't know how she would be able to kill someone that helped her survive.  (This pattern continues in the arena as well.)  Katniss makes Prim a promise that she will win the Games and return home no matter what it takes. 


     Each tribute is allowed a token from their district that they can wear at all times to remind them of home.  Katniss  receives a Mockingjay pin from the mayor's daughter as a token of her district, which she wears throughout the Games.  The jabberjay was a genetically altered bird that the Capitol created to spy on the different Districts and thus keep them in check.  These birds could memorize and repeat full conversations to the Capitol.  When the districts learned this was how the government was listening to them they would feed the birds false information.  The Capitol then couldn't gain anything useful from them and the birds were left to die in the wild; but instead they mated with mockingbirds, creating the mockingjay.  These birds are somewhat of a "slap in the face" to the Capitol (pg. 42).  The mockingjay becomes a symbol, not only of District 12, but of Katniss herself and a symbol of resistance to the Capitol's authority. 

     Once the 24 tributes reach the Capitol they are placed into training.  They go through several training sessions that are key to their survival.  Things like camouflage, knots, knowledge of different plants, etc. are skills that each Tribute needs to master in order to have any chance coming out of the Games alive.  Here their skills are also measured individually and scored. This lets the public watching bet on who might go the longest in the games and ultimately win.  Katniss performs her skills with the bow and arrow for the Gamemakers, she is last of the 24 and they have grown bored.  She loses her temper but surprisingly scores quite high.  With the help of their game designers, Katniss and Peeta become the unlikely crowd favorite by being seen as the “star-crossed lovers” of the Games after Peeta's confession.  This gives them an advantage with sponsors over the other tributes.  Sponsors have the ability to send the Tributes things in their times of need by way of parachute.  Things like weapons, food, healing ointment, etc from a wealthy sponsor can help save a Tribute's life.

     Once the Tributes are placed into the arena, everything changes.  Alliances are made between those who have beneficial skills, but only for as long as it takes for someone to become the strongest or weakest link.  Katniss’s promise to her sister keeps her motivated throughout the tournament. After several hardships and twists within the story Katniss and Peeta must truly play the part of the “star-crossed lovers” and join sides if either hopes to survive the games alone.  Alone and together they must outsmart other Tributes and survive "natural" disasters and physical ones that damage their judgment.


Textual Elements


Writing Style:

 The writing style used throughout The Hunger Games is effective, yet very rare in modern books. The novel is written in the first-person point of view, present tense and can be challenging to adapt to for an unsuspecting reader. This speed bump is easily avoided however because Collins paints the pages of her novel with the tale of the heart-grabbing main character.



  Katniss is a very rounded character with admirable characteristics and interesting flaws that keeps the story flowing and enticing. With very rounded characters sprinkled throughout the story, it is easy to say that Katniss does not over shine her supporting cast. Each character is meticulously developed throughout the text and this existence of many round characters makes it very interesting to recognize some possible themes throughout the tale.



  An explicit theme recognized very early in the novel is the idea of self-sufficiency and survival. Katniss is from a poverty-stricken district where in order to survive, it is necessary to be independent and be able to support one's family. Another theme that is both explicitly and implicitly recognized is the integration of love in such a brutal storyline.

  Explicitly, Katniss's love for her mother and younger sister, Prim, are unequivocally evident. She makes her love and devotion for them very clear when she is saying goodby to them before the Games for possibly the last time: "And then the Peacekeeper is at the door, signaling our time is up and we're hugging one another so hard it hurts and all I'm saying is 'I love you. I love you both.' And they're saying it back" (Collins 36).

  Throughout all of the suffering and harsh conditions Katniss has lived her life through, it is hard to imagine she has time for any potential love prospects, but when she is thrown head first into The Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in a forced love affair with a competitor from her own district, Peeta Mellark. The relationship seems like a public stunt at first, but the reader soon finds out that Peeta's feelings for Katniss could be real. Throughout all of this, Katniss is battling an implicit love conflict of her own with another boy from home named Gale. Gale is a longtime friend of Katniss and has never been considered a love interest to her, but when she finds herself for the first time without him, she seems to be longing for his company in more than a friendly way.





  • The capitol uses the Hunger Games to control the 12 Districts.  It is thought that because each district has to sacrifice two children for the games, while knowing they would likely not return, it would restrain any urge the districts may have to rebel against the Capitol.  The Hunger Games acts as the Capitol's reminder that they are in charge and when Katniss resists that authority things get worse.


  1. Post-Apocalyptic America, now known as Panem  
  2. The story begins in District 12, known for coal mining
  3. then Katniss and the other tributes are "trained" and prepared in The Capitol, and
  4. the majority of the story takes place in the Arena for the Hunger Games. 


  •  Katniss Everdeen - heroine, District 12 Tribute, well skilled in archery
  • Peeta Mellark - District 12 Dribute, well skilled in camoflague
  • Haymitch Abernathy - The only Hunger Games survivor from District 12, usually considered an embarrassment to the district instead of a hero, must help Katniss and Peeta along their journey
  • Effie Trinket - Capitol escort for Katniss and Peeta
  • Cinna - Katniss's head stylist, considerably normal compared to the rest of the Capitol
  • Rue - small tribute from District 11, saves Katniss from a Tracker Jacker hive which saves her, forms an alliance with Katniss
  • Gale Hawthorne - Katniss's friend from District 12, they illegally hunt together to keep their families alive

 Point of view:

  • Katniss Everdeen


  • Science Fiction


Analysis and Critique


     This story takes on the controversial issue of government control and the rights that members of society have and are sometimes refused.  Because this story is a young adult book it is showing the younger population these issues in fictional ways that they can understand and try to connect to.  Another aspect that the book addresses is death.  While Death is not portrayed lightly, it is shown as something that happens for entertainment - something that would be considered horrific in today's society.  It also brings about the age old question:  If you're following orders or acting out of self defense, are you responsible for the deaths that occur at your own hands?


     Suzanne Collins knows how to right an upbeat book that completely envelopes the reader.  She also writes in a way that leaves some things to the reader's imagination - giving us the perfect action, drama, and romance filled book that has something for any reader.  The book ends on a spectacular cliffhanger that makes the reader want to move right in to the next book, Catching Fire 




Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc, 2008



"List of Characters." The Hunger Games Wiki. Wikia. Web. 12 Dec. 2010. <http://thehungergames.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Characters>.


"The Hunger Games." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hunger_Games>.



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