Before English 1102, I had never really been exposed to dystopian literature. The most I knew about it was that it was the opposite of utopian literature… I had only read The Hunger Games, and that was since 8th grade.
After having read The Hunger Games again, in addition to The Knife of Never Letting Go and Little Brother, I’ve realized that women tend to play significant roles in dystopian literature. More specifically, they use their leadership aptitude to lead oppressed members of a society. This is what’s most interesting to me about dystopian literature: the fact that women are represented as strong individuals who lead society in the search for freedom from oppression.
In The Hunger Games, for example, we know from the start that Katniss is a strong and driven character. She plays what would traditionally be known as “the man of the house” role by taking care of her younger sister and her weak mother. She then displays her courage by volunteering as tribute. It’s interesting that Suzanne Collins chose to make a female the one to volunteer; she’s definitely making a statement. Although some may argue that this was out of instinct, Katniss proves them wrong by further demonstrating her courage and bravery in the Games. One of the most significant parts of the book is when Katniss does the “three finger salute” because she inspires the citizens of District 11 to rebel against the guards at the screening of the Games. This is only one of the few instances in which we see Katniss’ leadership inspire rebellion.
As is the case with The Hunger Games, The Knife of Never Letting Go and Little Brother also include strong female leaders. Although Marcus is the main protagonist in the book, Van is sort of the reason why he feels the way he does. A lot of his ideas stem from Van’s thinking, so Van still indirectly leads the oppressed through Marcus’ actions. Additionally, Van courageously stands up to Marcus when she disagrees with him. In The Knife of Never Letting Go, Viola is the book’s Katniss. Since she’s literally the only girl in a society consisting of only men, she plays a significant role. Todd, the main character finds himself in troubling situations many times, (to avoid spoilers, I will be very general) and who do you think saves him? Viola.
In all 3 of the books I have discussed, it’s evident that the authors strive to make a feminist statement; strong and independent women can successfully play the roles of leaders.