The Hunger Games

All posts tagged The Hunger Games

Why are dystopias so attractive in the world of literature today? I can’t speak for the millions around the world who read them, but for myself, dystopias have drawn me in with their projected futures based on the mirroring of certain aspects of our own world’s brokenness, along with the character development a dystopia requires of its protagonist(s). There are many more reasons than the two above, however, given the subjectiveness of each answer, I will be giving my personal reasonings.

The majority of dystopian societies have strong ties to certain, similar aspects of our own westernized part of the world. Take the 1984 for example, the government is monitoring every citizen and the news broadcasts very biased, or even untrue, information. Sound familiar? The Hunger Games depicts a future that could very easily become our own should similar events take place. Our generation has become desensitized to the kind of violence and lack of morality that would leave past generations aghast, which would make the transition from our current society into a similar dystopian one easier than we might think.

It is said that hard times bring out one’s true nature. This is evident in many of today’s dystopian novels. The protagonist experiences deep, personal challenges and is forced to really discover who they are. The character development in the dystopian genre is one of my favorite’s because of how intense a process it typically is. Take the Divergent series for example – Tris Prior evolves from a reserved, slightly timid 16-year old into a strong young woman who knows what it means to sacrifice for others and have others sacrifice for you. Watching a character shift into someone with more depth, who has experienced hard times and yet still carries on, this is one of the most intriguing aspects of the dystopian genre.

As young adults come of age, one of the essential duties of any society, dystopian or utopian, real or fictional, is the preparation of those young people for their roles as productive citizens. In The Scorpion Rules, Bow presents a story set in what is both a prison and a school for future world leaders. They learn, hands-on, humility and the principles of sustainable agriculture. In the classroom they are taught history, philosophy, and the futility of standing against the AI. It is this sense of powerlessness that serves as the cornerstone of many dystopian regimes, and it is in answer to this feeling that many writers choose to present an alternative to today’s youth.

The modern world faces dark times as the art of mass surveillance is perfected, the political elite seem bent on sewing division and dependence, and the great capitalist industrial complex refuses to respect our shared resources and habitat. How then do we entice our young people to abandon this despondence? How do we instill them not merely with a sense of vague, unjustified hope but with a sure and rational sense of social agency?

The Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen begins the series responsible for the survival of herself and her family. She is a capable and experienced provider, adapting to her environment with skill and cunning, yet she does not consider her potential to change the world. She refers to the games as “the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy” (18). Many young readers will empathize with this point of view. The rise from an obscure life of mere subsistence to become a true agent of revolution is a powerful and enviable story, though rather an emotional and perhaps unrealistic one. Don’t we need more than simple pathos in our appeal to the next generation? For my research, I intend to consider the rhetoric with which we teach agency, particularly focusing on the logical side of arguments. (Hopefully we can agree that young adults have logical sides to which to appeal.)

Works Cited:
Bow, Erin. The Scorpion Rules. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016, New York.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2009, New York.
Good, Thomas Altfather. Climate Protest UMaine. Wikimedia Commons, 21 Sep. 2014,

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, 19 Feb. 2017.



One of the most impactful and ever-present pieces of propaganda used during The Hunger Games is the Treaty of Treason video that is shown during the reaping (in this post, I’ll be referring to the version from the movie and the visuals that are portrayed along with it):

Not only is this video issued by the Capitol in an attempt to justify the Hunger Games, but it is also a way of making the citizens of Panem feel as though the Hunger Games’ existence is their fault. In my opinion, the message and its delivery are masterfully crafted; it idolizes the Capitol (“Thirteen districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them…”), showing what the country suffered without explaining what terrible things the Capitol responded to the rebellion with, one example being the complete obliteration of District 13. The video makes it seem as though the districts destroyed each other, stating, “Brother turned on brother until nothing remained.” The Capitol then goes on to blame the districts for their current situation without defining the Capitol as the villain by using collective words such as “we” in, “We swore as a nation we would never know this treason again…” and uses the passive to avoid fault, such as in, “… and so it was decreed…” when discussing the founding of the Hunger Games.

Propaganda is defined as, “The spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.” In this instance, the Capitol is picking and choosing words out of Panem’s history in order to make the districts look like the problem and instill a trust in the Capitol’s actions. However, this does not stop the children from District 12 from appearing stressed and upset at their potential death sentence. The Hunger Games have been accepted as a part of life after so many years since its founding, and though the people in the higher-numbered districts have realized its severity, those in the Career districts are able to take pride in the video and accept that the reward of “our generosity and our forgiveness [in the form of fame and riches]” is worth the risk of death. Does this mean that this warped explanation of history has taken its toll in changing the outlook of those districts on the Capitol, or are the people in those districts indifferent to the games because those that don’t want to participate will never have to due to the high amount of volunteers? Does this allow them to take advantage of the tesserae system by placing names in the jar that will never get picked? This specific propaganda film within The Hunger Games is one of the great ways in which disparities between districts and their attitudes towards the Games may have been formed, and has acted as a manipulative way for the Capitol to save face on the events that occurred in Panem’s history.

Works Cited:

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2008.
“Propaganda.”, Merriam-Webster,
The Hunger Games. Directed by Gary Ross, Lionsgate Films, 2012.

Throughout YA literature, the author utilizes media and/or propaganda a source of gaining favor or support for a specific movement or ruling body. In such dystopian literature, people are in a society that is ruled or lead by an organization that might not have the total support of the people, but through the use of propaganda/media they keep the people blind, inline, or submissive using the messages they spread. By doing this, they retain control of the people through means such as inspiring hope, inspiring fear, or some other tactic of keeping the society in order or the people in line with their rule.

The Hunger Games exhibited these defining characteristics of dystopias as well. For example, when the Capitol displays the video at the District 12 reaping, it illustrated their use of propaganda. The video illustrates the message that the capitol’s regime is there to provide peace and security for the districts in exchange for their resources. They completely ignore the how they oppress the people and keep some of the districts in awful conditions. They also use propaganda to spread fear about how the previous time was filled with war and despair and that their rule prevents this.

The Capitol then justifies how the Hunger Games is a way to end all war and despair by each district offering up two tributes to fight to the death as a symbol of sacrifice for the greater good. If someone was to tell this idea to a person, they would think this it is completely crazy. Though through the use of propaganda and media, they illustrate how this idea is the only way of survival/peace.

Also, in the Mockingjay part 1, District 13 uses the symbol of the Mockingjay as a way to gain support for the revolution against the capital. They appeal to the emotions of the occupants of the other districts by illustrating the death, despair, and struggles of the people. This source of propaganda also gains their movement support but instead of trying to do it with submission, they gain support through inspiring people to be active and fight back. This illustrates both spectrums of how propaganda and the media are used to promote support for a group/movement.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. NY, Scholastic Press, 2008.

Ross, Gary, et al, director. The Hunger Games. United States: Alliance Film, 2012.

I hate to admit it, but I first watched Catching Fire before I read any of the books, or even watched the original Hunger Games. Instead, my impression of the series before watching this movie, was shaped by what I viewed in advertisements on television or in magazines, like those for Covergirl’s Catching Fire collection or Subway’s “Fiery” subs. Everything in the media made the world of The Hunger Games seem so extravagant and lavish, however upon reading the book soon after viewing the movie, I realized this initial impression of mine, cultivated by all the marketing, was completely off from the series’ reality. The dystopian society of The Hunger Games is a mixture of extreme fear, poverty, depression, and a multitude of intimidation and corruption at the hands of the Capitol. However, the ads for the movies rarely, if it all, highlighted the uglier truth in the series. The Capitol uses this same technique as it manipulates the districts. It seeks to make the situation of Panem seem a whole lot better off than it is in actuality through an extreme amount of propaganda.

It is undeniable that propaganda plays a key role in Panem and keeping the districts in so called “order”. When the mayor reads off the history of Panem on reaping day, he lists “the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up much of the land”(Collins). The Capitol seeks to maintain its control over the districts especially on reaping day, which the day itself is plenty of a reason to spark a rebellion, as two dozen children are chosen to be killed by the Capitol. Seeing the obvious reason for potential for rebellion, the Capitol uses propaganda like this to keep the districts in check. They make it clear how worse off the citizens of Panem were before the Capitol came in control. They are making an effort to convince the citizens that with the Dark Days and rebellion, the Hunger Games is obviously the only solution to maintain this “peace”, therefore there is no need to rebel. The Capitol is doing what is best for the citizens, or so it claims. When every piece of information you get about your history is distorted and manipulated, and when you have been told these same lies your entire life, it is hard to see a reason why you would ever have doubt. Even though it seems inconceivable to us today, we don’t know what it is like to not have the freedom to do our own research, form our own opinions, and not have everything we know about anything be based on severe lies. The Capitol needs propaganda like this video to keep their citizens in check and for them to see that their is no grounds for rebellion, even if their current conditions are horrible, the Capitol assures them what they have is good, or rather it could be a lot worse. 

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2008.

Everyone who has read The Hunger Games can clearly see that the media and propaganda is a huge part of the story. In the text we see the media in all sorts of places. The media surrounds the entire Hunger Games and makes it something that people want to watch. The media also acts to keep the districts in line with the aggravated hype created with the Hunger Games. Media is incredibly influential in real life, and is exemplified fictionally in The Hunger Games.

One of the main examples of the influence of the media in the story that comes to my mind is the portrayal of Katniss and Peeta’s romance that is broadcasted nationwide. Peeta originally introduced his love interest as a tactic to survive in the Hunger Games, which shows how he used the media to his advantage. In turn, the media used the story of the lovers to their own advantage, to capture the nation’s attention. Everyone loves a good romance; it’s why our own nation is enamored with shows like The Bachelor. In the book it is no different, and Katniss and Peeta get all sorts of attention. Therefore, I’m sure there would’ve been advertisements and propaganda created around them which was not specifically addressed in the novel.

The star-crossed lover story line came to bite the Capitol (and therefore the media) in the butt later, however, when Katniss and Peeta were the only two remaining people in the arena, and they were about to kill themselves instead of each other. This was an act of defiance against the Capitol, and was portrayed in the media to all of Panem. In this way, Katniss and Peeta unwittingly used the media to their own advantage. They used it to win the Hunger Games, and ultimately to spark the rebellion of the districts.

Image Source:

Dystopian novels are depicted as being the worst possible version of a society, generally characterized by an oppressive government and a huge amount of censorship. In fact, most dystopian novels, including 1984 by George Orwell and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, feature actual works of propaganda in the novels themselves. Specifically in The Hunger Games (both the novel and the movie), propaganda can be viewed as the amount of hype and promotion of the games themselves, with people in both the Capitol and the districts placing bets on who might be the winner, as well as the exposure of the games through talk-shows and overall Capitol sensations. In fact, propaganda in the work itself is even more characteristic of a dystopian society, when we see in the movie how the districts are only given access to viewing the games through a projector, wth no access to any other channel or source of news.

Propaganda when it comes to dystopias (or novels and movies in general) can be expanded to the audience outside of the book: you and I as readers and viewers. In fact, the success of most novels and films ride on an effective means of propaganda. Again, looking at The Hunger Games specifically, the books were such a huge success, that they were all turned into movies. In fact, although the book’s success was largely based off of its originality in a young adult genre, the cover art featuring the mocking jay on every book cover led to other merchandise, including mocking jay necklaces and rings. Similarly, when the first film came out, it was a huge success that bred even more popularity for the novels themselves. However, a key to its continued success was to ensure that the other films, Catching Fire, Mockingjay: Part 1, and Mockingjay: Part 2 were equally advertised to not only keep returning fans motivated to see the movies, but to encourage others to hop on the bandwagon as well. Thus, for the third and fourth movies, the creators utilized modern-day propaganda by forming posters that one could imagine were used in the novels themselves. One of them on the left, featuring a small child covered in coal with the caption, “The Capitol salutes its citizens in the mining district,” could appeal to returning fans of The Hunger Games, as well as an uninformed audience who may suddenly be intrigued by the poster itself. For myself, the use of propaganda when it came to the use of the mocking jay on posters and advertisements kept me interested in the novels, even though the mentioning of the mocking jay pin itself isn’t really the highlight of the books nor the films. However, regardless, The Hunger Games is a perfect example of how the success of a novel (and four films) can be dependent on effective use of propaganda.


Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2008.

What if we lived in a world where we were told what to think, who to be, and our expectations of the future? In Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” series, this is the role that propaganda plays. Beginning with the reaping day video, which pushes the idea that each of the twelve districts are traitors to the Capitol, we, as outsiders, can see clearly the Capitol places all blame of the rebellion on the districts. This has created feelings of oppression and tension between the two. History is written by the victors, and since the Capitol emerged victorious from the district uprisings, they dictated how the entire society would view the rebellion. The history they wrote consists of the betrayal of the districts, which in turn leads to the creation of the hunger games.

The Hunger Games are in and of themselves a form of propaganda. They convey the message that the Capitol will always win. By forcing each district to sacrifice their children, who symbolize the hope and future of their families in each district, the Capitol reinforces their power.

Children of the districts live in continual fear of the Capitol. Each year, the televised blood sacrifice of children remind the districts the Capitol is in charge and their only option for survival is to do completely as they say.

Even if you do survive past the childhood terror of being sent to the games, you are expected to support the Capitol in whichever industry they have assigned to each district.


Another form of propaganda the Capitol uses against the Districts is Caesar Flickerman’s pre-game interview with the contestants. During this time, he gives the Capitol an air of relatibility and humor. He embodies the Capitol and all its people, so when he jokes with the contestants, cries for the contestants, and rejoices with the contestants, the Capitol claims the stance of regret and empathy towards the Districts.

Through their use of propaganda, the Capitol hopes to keep the Districts under its control. They have rewritten history in their favor; they have broken the fighting spirit out of many of the Districts by continually claiming their children for contestants in their game. The Capitol, as many dystopian societies, has used propaganda to further their own agenda and keep the citizens in check with mind games and force.