7 Aspects of the Hunger Games World which Reflect the Current Socio-Political Scenario.
- The idea of class and privilege
The story emphasizes the idea of political and social inequalities by describing the distinctions between the capitol and the districts. The people of the capitol have lavish lifestyles. Their food is exotic and entrancingly delicious and they have such excess of it that they use vomit-inducing potions and pills to create space for more dishes at feasts.
They are outrageously fashionable and excessively emotional. They watch the hunger games with predatory interest and they love the victors with all their might.
The districts, on the other hand, are impoverished and burdened by heavy and rigorous work, the profits of which are reaped by the Panem. They barely have enough food for two meals a day. They are forced to send their children for the hunger games and then they are forced to watch them die.
These differences perhaps outline the vast differences that lie between the impoverished lower classes or the third world countries and the privileged higher classes or the first world nations in today’s world.
- The culture of reality shows
The novels of this sensational trilogy bring out the perils of living in a society which is obsessed with the idea of celebrities and reality shows.
Suzzanne Collins admitted that she was surfing between reality show channels and real war coverage on television when she stumbled upon the idea of writing The Hunger Games.
The depiction of 24 teenagers trapped in a deadly arena, left to fight for their lives with the whole nation watching them kill each other, is a powerful image which reminds one of the current reality shows like Big Brother and Survivor. This is only more brutal for the lone victor is also the only one left alive of the 24 teenagers.
- The struggle against a totalitarian government
The novels make a powerful comment on the dangers of totalitarian regimes. The figure of the ice-hearted President Snow with his vast army of faceless and nameless “Peacemakers” who impose peace by forcefully silencing the voices of the masses and wield guns and whips alike to mete out punishments at the slightest hint of defection and rebellion is nothing if not a warning against the ills of allowing the rule of a totalitarian government.
- The progress in science and technology
The novels portray several fascinating and horrifying products of scientific and technological advancement. We have tracker-jackers which are used to track tributes in the arena, bio-engineered ‘mutts’ with the eyes of the dead tributes, invisible force-fields with immense power, wires which can blow up vast areas of land, hovercrafts, magnetically levitated trains running at speeds of over 200 miles/ hour, lotions that heal deep wounds in hours and clothing that generates synthetic fire. The list could go on and on.
However, science and technology in these novels, are seen as ways of exercising control and power over the districts rather than generators of products which can be used to make life easy. It points towards the current activities of the governments all over the world whereby they use scientific advancements to enhance their military power- their ability to kill and conquer.
- The idea of contortion of natural body features and fashion
The Capitol has an outrageous sense of style and fashion which is rooted in a desire to be noticed and the ability to finance expensive tastes and trends. It is common for the people in the Capitol to tattoo and dye their bodies in extravagant bright colors, as well as undergo plastic surgery to alter their appearances.
Known results of the surgeries are whiskers, dyed skin, talons, decorative patterns cut into their skin, and more outrageous fashions alluded to but not mentioned. These alterations are done so heavily that Katniss describes them as disfiguring, wondering if the people of the Capitol realize how horrifying they look to the rest of Panem. Some people of the Capitol also have gems implanted in their skin (!!!). Capitol residents frequently wear wigs in a multitude of colors. Makes you wonder where we are heading with our outrageous fashion trends and body alterations, huh?
- The image of a strong female figure
One of the most significant aspects of the novel is its portrayal of a strong, independent, willful female lead. Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire, is an experienced hunter, a killer with a bow and an arrow, a tough-as-nails survivor and a rebel who struggles for her rights. She defies the stereotypes which surround women and shows massive physical and emotional strength.
The two male protagonists similarly defy stereotypical notions of masculinity. Peeta Mellark, her co-tribute, is a baker’s son. He is emotional, infatuated with Katniss and is great at decorating cakes. Gale Hawthorne may at first sight, look like a more conventional masculine figure.
However, he is prone to irrational judgments fired by emotions, which is traditionally attributed to women. Such characterization falls in line with current efforts by people world-over to break gender barriers and stereotypes.
- The Idea of revolution of the masses and their suppression.
Revolutions and struggles are a very important aspect of the present-day socio-political scenario. The Hunger Game showcases a large-scale rebellion staged in a setting which talks of the perils of an autocratic rule. In this world, rebels are punished by cutting their tongues (Avoxes) which in turn silences them. The Districts are punished annually through the brutal Hunger games.
The novel talks about strong notions of revolutions, the ‘face’ of revolutions, the psyche of the masses, the idea of underground (literally) rebels, the fallout following a war, etc. It reinforces the necessity of revolution in the face of immense oppression and denial of nasic rights which is extremely relevant in pour world today.
And you thought novels under the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy were meant only for entertainment, huh?
A student of English Literature at Lady Sriram College for Women, Akshita is a voracious reader with a special penchant for poetry and fanfiction. She dreams of becoming a travel-writer some day.