Derek Johnson Muses

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The Hunger Games Upon Further Reflection

Upon further reflection of The Hunger Games (part 1 and part 2), I have realized what could have taken the books’ great potential to great heights. Getting the great premise was the easy part, but pushing that premise to its limits would have required some bolder choices.

Suzanne Collins claims that the tributes from the lower districts don’t have as much success as the “career” tributes, better off-districts. One would think this analogy is pretty straight forward, but I would say: look at high school and college football. For thirty years, the lion’s share of the top college football stars come from poor backgrounds, where football becomes their ticket to education and hopefully, to support their famialy. While the career’s training may help to set them apart, the lesser districts would fight harder to support their own families (again, Collins seems to be writing in a culture that has disowned the value of the family as a natural unit of provision). Once every eight or ten years, you’d get physically imposing tributes from Districts 9, 10, 11, and 12 who’d win. Katniss, in her pessimistic narrative, rarely looks at the winners of the games and hopes against hope she’ll provide for her mother and Prim, like she always does.

That leads me to one of my specific criticism of the book, mainly, the lack of payoff for two of the big accomplishments in the book. One, Katniss’ sabotage of the careers food supply isn’t directly paid off, and two, Katniss doesn’t seem to suffer from not killing Foxface, who dies in unceremonious fashion from eating the poisoned berries. My solution: have Cato die from eating the berries instead, and set up a finale between Thresh, Foxface, and Peeta and Katniss.

Consider it: Cato isn’t prone to hunting, and without a food supply, he’d probably be more apt to take someone else’s food rather than hunt for himself. And Foxface likely would have known which berries where poisonous and which ones weren’t

So much wasted potential….

The point of putting a bunch of teenagers in an arena in a fight to the death doesn’t just have to be about muscle. It can also be about choice, and what young people would do if they were pushed to the breaking point. When Katniss and Peeta face Cato, it’s not hard for them to kill him because he’s an obviously villian. But what if Katniss had to face Thresh, who spared her life? If Foxface was the one holding Peeta up at the top of the horn, threatening to drop, wouldn’t all the moments where Katniss had spared her flashed before her eyes?  When push comes to shove, would Katniss have even killed Rue if it meant providing for her family? The Hunger Games doesn’t give us that answer.

7 responses to “The Hunger Games Upon Further Reflection

  1. SamLockettRadio June 12, 2012 at 1:20 am

    D-Man love what u do here! Keep it up man and when we have our college football preview show on “NcAA Network Radio” I’m having you on to talk about the Huskers!!! If you’re willing that is.

  2. mouse September 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Found this on Reddit 🙂 There’s a theory sorta going around that Foxface DID, in fact, know that the berries were poison, but also knew that she was one of the last tributes and was going to have to face someone much stronger than her and much more willing/able to kill than her eventually, so instead of doing so she chose to eat the berries. This is sort of backed up by the fact that she supposedly did really well at the plant station during training.

    • Derek Johnson September 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Interesting perspective. I guess I could see that kind of “noble suicide”. Still, I still wish I knew more about her character, which is a good thing (generally).

  3. LailaCar September 22, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    This was actually my biggest complaint about the book. I loved it overall, but it was all too predictable that Katniss and Peeta would face off against Cato. I was desperately hoping that the true final “antagonist” would be Fox Face. Collins gave her such a mysterious, cunning aura that it made her eerie and unsettling in a way, in an antagonist way, as opposed to Cato who was just a big brute. I think a showdown between Katniss and Fox Face, who could have been depicted as more deranged than first thought (as a sort of character twist) would have been much more captivating.

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