In this literature analysis I will investigate “The Hunger Games,” written by Suzanne Collins. I will communicate how the book gives young people hope to challenge authority. The story takes place in a nation called Panem, which is in North American after an unspecified apocalyptic event took place. The nation is part of a wealthy Capitol and has 12 poorer districts that surround it. The Capitol is an authoritarian regime and represents the type of oppression that is experienced in some countries because of the rule of government. Due to a past rebellion towards the Capitol, each year a boy and a girl who is between the ages of 12 and 18 must participate in the Hunger Games. They are chosen from a lottery. The teenagers fight to the death until there is only one individual remaining. The story is narrated by a girl named Katniss Everdeen, who is used to surviving in the wild. She is joined in her district by a boy named Peeta Mellark. Throughout the book there is a sense of unjust as many of the characters are very innocent and they are at an obvious disadvantage, as some of the characters are very young and weak. The entire ordeal is filmed for people to watch and bet on who will come out of the competition as victors.
Collins started writing in 1991 for children’s television shows and she was the head writer for “Clifford’s Puppy Days” for Scholastic Entertainment. She was inspired to write children’s books after working with author James Proimos on the show “Generation O!” She began writing literature steadily in 2003. Collins wrote The Hunger Games in 2008, which is the first book of a trilogy, (Everett, n.d.). She mentioned that it was through her father’s experience at the Air Force that she was able to understand poverty, the effects of war, and starvation, which are all themes that are raised in her book. The sequel to The Hunger Games, “Catching Fire,” was released in 2009, and the final book in the trilogy, “Mockingjay,” was released in 2010. The Hunger Games was made into a film that was released in 2012.
In many ways, the piece doesn’t fit in with the typical literature that is enjoyed by teens. It deals with very dark subject matter that isn’t regularly dealt with in many teen novels. However, there is also an element that is very common in teen genre, and that is the concept of love. The Hunger Games certainly has an element of love between the two main characters who come from the same district. At first, they seem to not like each other, but then they appear to fall madly in love and want to help each other in the fight for survival. However, it is unclear about whether Peeta actually has feelings for Katniss, or if he just used her in order to gain sympathy from the audience so that he could win the battle.
The cultural significance of the work relates to a couple components of the book. The first is about the fact that people are put on display for other people’s entertainment. It is similar to the barbaric nature of gladiator fights. The gladiators were often given prestige status and they were even made famous if they were good fighters. They were dressed in spectacular wardrobes and entered arenas in very extravagant ways. This is the same as what was happening in The Hunger Games, but it is perhaps taken to another level because of the fact that the people competing in the events are just children. The way the story is presented says something about the way that people behave in the world. We are very concerned with material things, such as how nice someone’s hair looks, or what kind of shoes they are wearing, and we often forget about basic humanity. Of course, this book takes the idea to the extreme, but it shows exactly how people behaved during the gladiator ages. And it might even show how people think deep down inside. Second, the book is culturally significant because of the way it challenges authority. The two lead characters challenge the rules of the game, and they refuse to kill each other after those leading the competition order them to do so. While The Hunger Games didn’t cover overthrowing the authoritarian regime, the subsequent books in the trilogy do go into the fight to ensure that games that those in the districts are forced to compete in are ended.
While the actions of the Capitol is disturbing, the book raises questions about our society, because the behaviors of the masses can very easily be linked to how a herd mentality can result in inhumane actions. But it can also be said that perhaps humanity is barbaric, and we are currently just skilled at controlling our barbarism. The questions that are raised are perhaps the most significant part about this book being so economically successful. People are drawn to fulfill fantasies, and stimulate those portions of humanity that are hidden by what is culturally acceptable.
Collins, Suzanne. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press.
Everett, M.S. (n.d). A Conversation Questions and Answers. Scholastic. Retrieved from