Discuss the use of diction in The Hunger Games.Give some specific examples (actual diction) of how the author skillfully chooses words to convey various tones.

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Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Collins uses powerful diction throughout The Hunger Games to convey Katniss' shifting attitudes toward the Capitol and the games.

When Katniss forms an alliance with Rue, her tone completely shifts from being indignant and cynical to a lyrical tone, full of emotion with an almost song-like quality as she holds the dying young girl.  When Rue asks Katniss to sing, she reflects:

"[T]here was once music in my house, too. Music I helped make...The song that comes to me is a simple lullaby, one we sing fretful, hungry babies to sleep with" (Collins 234). 

The connotation of giving Rue a lullaby evokes soothing emotions; the diction used in this moment is gentle, and even the contrast of "fretful, hungry babies" is suggestive of a calmer, more wholesome setting than the actual Games.  Normative behavior suggests calming a fractious child; in direct opposition, the readers witness Katniss attempting to soothe a young girl, dying a violent death.  This quiet moment with Rue reveals Katniss' softer side. 

Later as Katniss gathers the flowers to decorate Rue's body, Collins depicts her "covering the ugly wound.  Wreathing her face.  Weaving her hair with bright colors."  Katniss observes "[s]he really could be asleep in that meadow after all"  (Collins 237).  The rhythmic quality of Katniss' speech here, infused with alliteration, again reinforces her wistful, lyrical tone--that Rue who loved music in life, should be honored with music in death. 


*I included link for a list of really helpful tone words, great for analyzing tone through diction.