The Hunger and the Games

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I am sure there are a plenty of people who know a lot more about the Hunger Games than I do. Because, quite frankly, I read it a month earlier. I haven’t even seen the movies yet. But I decided to read it after something that my brother said after reading the books himself, “The books are about the Hunger and the movies are about the Games.” I started wondering about how these two elements could be separated in a book with was basically called The Hunger Games and based on an event called the Hunger Games. But I agree, these two elements can be easily separated because what we, well fed people, often overlook if the fact that the very name “Hunger Games” is an oxymoron.

Virginia Woolf had once commented that the mind of almost every writer bleeds into his or her own work. A man is supposed to write like a man and a woman is supposed to write like a woman. Some people claim that it is very obvious that the Hunger Games series was written by a lady and definitely not a man because only a woman could write about a boy and a girl who sleep on the same bed holding each other but not expect anything more from this. I always thought that this was a very superficial and also a very false claim until I read The Fault in Our Stars where the two protagonists sleep together because of no evident reason other than the fact that the readers expect them to do that while they are on a romantic vacation to Amsterdam. (more on that subject later) But the fact remains that the two protagonists of John Green, prove to be somewhat unrealistic to me even though they exist in a very real world while the two protagonists of the Hunger Games are absolutely believable even though they live in the dystopian world of Panem.

But I will not compare the two tales because they should not be compared. We don’t have a friend who is like Katniss Everdeen maybe because we live in a somewhat privileged section of the society. There are plenty of books that have represented the stark contrast of poverty and extravagance of the rich but this is one of the books which made the concept of ‘hunger’ very clear to me. In all the other books, the hunger and the hungry are kept at a distance while here we are almost dropped in the middle of District 12 which lacks something as essential as food. Katniss Everdeen is almost absent in our group of friends because she is molded by hunger and she is someone whose entire life is based on overcoming it and fighting back. Thus after she actually wins a considerable amount of wealth, it becomes even more difficult to say who Katniss Everdeen is. Her identity is based on hardships and thankfully, for the readers and the citizen of the Capitol, she never had to worry about the loss of hardships.


There are three characters from the books that I find particularly interesting- Johanna Mason from District 4 and Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark from District 12. It is easy to figure out why Katniss hated Johanna. The policy that she used to win the Hunger Game was deceitful and also, it cannot be ignored that she used herself to seduce or somehow gain favors from her competitors. But manipulation was never new to the Hunger Games and these books are not about the battle between good and evil, right and wrong. Everyone uses some trick or the other. Peeta Mellark may just be a kind and good person but the way he manipulated the crowd into sympathizing for Katniss by telling then she was pregnant, was pretty devious.


No one in this book is just good or just bad perhaps with the exception of Prim. But towards the end we we figure out that she is not as fragile as Katniss assumes her to be. Her purely objective outlook and the ability to say the bitter truth is in sharp contrast with Katniss’ impaired ability to express herself. But the fact that Katniss is very real cannot be denied. She is unapologetic for her behavior and offers no explanations for her actions. In the first book, she truly seems heartless and there is no justification for it but isn’t that behavior normal for the situation that she was in? Yes, at times she seems extremely slow in grasping the easiest of explanations like Peeta’s love for her and she takes an unnaturally long time in guessing someone’s motives. It is obvious that she is flawed but that makes her perfect in her imperfections as a protagonist.


The conversation between Peeta and Katniss in Mockingjay where Katniss understands that Peeta has finally seen her for what she is and that she would never be on the receiving end of his kindness, is heart wrenching but beautiful. Also, to everyone who hates Peeta for being too nice, I just have one thing to say- some people are inherently nice. That does not make them too good to be true because plenty of such people who are just good at being good are all around us.

One more thing that I cannot really ignore about the Hunger Games is the description of food. We look through a starved man’s eyes when we look at the abundance of food piled on the tables at the Capitol. Suzanne Collins does a brilliant job in depicting the actual hunger and the unbearable pain of it. The food is one of the main elements of the books because it is irresistible- it is the main prize of the Hunger Games.

You probably have already read the books or seen the movies or both, but I would just like to remind you that if you have not read the book, you probably should because without that a very valuable portion of the title ‘The Hunger’ is lost.