The themes of my independent reading book, Red Queen, are centralized around the idea of how the ruling class maintains their power and control over the lower class in their (dystopian) society. There is a strong correlation to The Hunger Games in how the Capital maintains control over the twelve districts. In Red Queen, the Silvers continually “show off” their power to the Reds to remind them who has the “right to rule” and the power to do so. Ubiquitous propaganda in the forms of lies and deceit, as well as forced conscription reinforce the façade that the Silvers are perfect and have everything in order. In a similar fashion, the Capital’s propaganda throughout the districts in Panem, emphasized by the Peacekeepers, spies, and the Hunger Games, reinforce the Capital’s power and right to rule, as well as the false truth that Panem is thriving (this is especially prominent in the events after Katniss and Peeta win the Hunger Games).
In both societies, a hero with the potential to topple the established order emerges from the lowest class and is put in a spotlight before the ruling class. For Mare, this happens during the Queenstrial when she discovers her abilities in front of the royal Silver families; for Katniss, this occurs when she volunteers as tribute for Prim, and finds herself as the District 12 tribute for the 74th Hunger Games and lands before the eyes of the Capital and the nation of Panem.
The element that really interests me, and is what I will be discussing in my research paper, is finding that moment, exemplified in Red Queen and The Hunger Games, where propaganda in dystopian societies begins to fail and how the established order crumples under the actions of the hero (i.e. Katniss and Mare). From the research I have conducted and will continue to do, I have noticed that the ability of both governments, in The Hunger Games and Red Queen, to control the masses by propaganda and fear, hinges on the assumption that citizens will look out and act in their own interests, not others’. Propaganda begins to lose its grip when a selfless leader who refuses to be used as a pawn and controlled by the government emerges and will continually look to the interests of others before him or herself. Both literary leaders, Mare and Katniss, come from the lower class, break the law to provide some form of support for their family, and also have anger directed toward the ruling class. It is their selflessness that enables them to subvert the established order while among their midst and seemingly being used as the government’s “pawn”.
I will then conclude my paper by arguing what these themes translate to as a message to young adult readers. So far my research points me in the direction that these themes underscore the belief to kids that they can make a difference in the world they are living in. If there is something in society they do not agree with, or do not want to be a part of, they can make a difference. Not by having special abilities (like Mare and Katniss), but by being selfless. By not giving into power and pressure, but by looking out for others and making an impact that way.
“Katniss Buries Rue with Flowers.” bitchmedia, Bitch Media, 10 Mar. 2014, bitchmedia.org/post/may-the-box-office-be-ever-in-your-favor-how-divergent-and-thehunger-games-and-divergent-avoid-.Accessed 19 Feb. 2017.