Hunger Games: How Closely Related Are We To This World of Fiction

Posted: December 2, 2013 in The Hunger Games Op Eds

By B. Stephan

Suzanne Collins has stated that one of her inspirations for the Hunger Games trilogy came from flipping between the coverage of the Iraq War and reality television channels. It caused her to wonder if people were becoming desensitized to violence and less able to distinguish fact from fiction. Throughout the Hunger Games trilogy, time and time again we see a focus on the corruptions of the political system. Some read the Hunger Games as a love story or a story of revolution between the districts and the capitol and their games, but it is far more complex than that.

The themes of Mockingjay for example, are very similar to the situations and themes that the United States faced during the Bush Administration’s War on Terror. The War on Terror was called in retaliation of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and was viewed by some as a “just war.” According to dictionary.com, ‘just war’ is defined as “a military action that is justified as being permissible for legal or moral reasons.” In the series, Gale was working on how to transform his hunting traps into traps that could be used on humans. Humans are symbolized as animals when Gale starts setting traps for humans rather than game animals. Setting traps for the human race ultimately led to more collateral damage and caused more devastation to all life forms. When Gale’s ethics were questioned, he stated that they were “following the same rule book that President Snow used when he hijacked Peeta.” In Gale’s mind, the ends justify the means, so to speak, even against innocent people.

The idea of the ends justifying the means is when methods that are seen as immoral or unjust are somehow okay as long as something good is accomplished as a result. This is a very common tool used to support war and identify it as being a just war. This is very similar to the prisoners who were being tortured and abused by the U.S. military in an Iraqi prison with the sole justification of what “those people did to us on 9/11.” The real question for both sides comes down to whether or not the prisoners were all responsible for the terrorist attacks and deserved a severe punishment for the wrong acts of a few? It sounds to me that torturing prisoners for what they did to us on 9/11 as an act of justice is just the opposite. None of those in the prison had a direct correlation to flying the planes in to the Twin Towers in New York City that day. Torturing them is not a way to get even; it only means that even more terrible and horrifying acts against the human race have now occurred. Gale is unable to see any of those living in the Capitol as anything other than the enemy and that idea reflects back on our American society for how some, even more so after 9/11, makes it hard for people to look at certain racial or religious groups as individuals. All too often, the “others” or those who are “different” are portrayed as dangerous and terrorists. That is one of the most cruel fallacies when it comes to war of any kind. Those who are viewed as “others” and “different” are still in fact human beings and deserve the same level of respect that all humans should be entitled to.

There is a lot of political discourse involved such as the economic status of each of the districts, the reaping, the games, and the power of the Capitol. The Hunger Games series brings light to a multitude of political situations involving economic inequality and violence, but primarily focuses on the corruptness of power seeking individuals. Many Americans are so used to seeing violence and war on the news that we as a nation are no longer skeptical about war or even pay attention to the real atrocities that are happening. What is real and what is not, just as what is right and what is wrong is now no longer something that many of us can clearly define. Creating an ends to justify the means and saying a war is a “just war” does not negate the fact that war is war and people will be negatively affected. The Hunger Games series has a way of raising difficult questions that make us think and becomes more interesting when we realize just how closely related to that world of fiction we actually are.

Submitted by: B. Stephan

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Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with your point that torturing the few that were kept as prisoners was not a way to get even. It was another way to show power. If those people did not have a direct correlation to those who flew the planes into the Twin Towers on 9/11 then there is no reason to hold them accountable just because someone of their kind did that terrible act of terrorism. The problem with “The Hunger Games Trilogy” is that some readers do not see themes like political injustice or corruptness throughout the book and read it for the violence or for the love story.
    -Michele

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