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Will you summarize The Hunger Games using the Marxist approach?

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fmars | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 6, 2010 at 8:42 AM via web

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Will you summarize The Hunger Games using the Marxist approach?

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 6, 2010 at 12:15 PM (Answer #1)

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What a great way to approach an understanding of what Collins is trying to convey in the novel!  A simple understanding of a Marxist reading of any novel is that the reader should evaluate the economic system of the time and place.  Marxism sees the world as being made up of two groups, the proletariat (workers) and the bourgeoisie (owners).  Marxism looks at this system as patently unfair because the majority of the wealth is held by the smallest group of people, and the poorest people are the ones who work their whole lives to eek out an existence for the profit of the few rich people.  In an ideal Marxist world, everyone would be equal and work equally -- earning what they need, not what they desire.  Profits are shared by the whole, not given to the elite.

In The Hunger Gameswe can clearly see this division of society.  The super elite/select people of the Capital want for nothing and are frivolous about nearly every aspect of their lives.  This is especially illustrated by the over-the-top things they do in the name of beauty.  The clothes and the food are beyond the imagination of someone of the lower class like Katniss.  She can't help but continually comment that one meal in the Capital is more food and better food that her family has in week or even a month.  The disparity between the Capital and the lives of the people in her home district, District 12 isoverwhelming!  She lives in the poorest and most proletariat of the districts and that is what makes this Marxist reading of the novel work so well.

The top of the society hasabsolute control over the actions of everyone else -- most obviously shown in the hunger games themselves.  The people of the capital have so much and take so much for granted that they are depraved.  Societies in this extreme are vulnerable because the masses (the poor) can only tolerate it for so long, thus we see the seeds of the uprising in this novel and a full "communist overthrow" by the end of the trilogy in Mockingjay.

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