Why is language such an important strategic element when the tributes are competing in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins?

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lhc eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Hunger Games in the dystopian society of this novel by the same name are a sadistic form of entertainment intended to punish the districts outside of Panem, the capitol, for an earlier uprising, by forcing children from each district to fight each other to the death on national television.  Appearances are everything, and language is an important part of appearances, because to have any chance at all, a contestant needs sponsors, who might provide important, and possibly life-saving gifts during the competition; thus it is important to create an image that appeals to the sponsors. Every word, every sentence, every glance at the cameras, can have an impact on the viewers and sponsors and must be carefully considered for effect. Peeta recognizes this immediately, and begins to play the game as soon as the train enters the Capitol, where he waves, smiles, and does everything he can to exhibit charisma and charm during his interviews and public appearances.   Katniss comes to realize how important image is, and tries to take some lessons from Peeta in this respect, although she is more reluctant to put forth a false image.  However, she knows enough to suppress her tears several times during the course of her involvement in the Games, as she knows that potential sponsors will not be interested in a weak-spirited candidate.  She also exaggerates her romantic interest in Peeta, through words and actions, which makes her, and Peeta as well, more attractive and interesting to audiences, and the all-important sponsors.  There is no room for mistakes in this public relations spectacle, and every word must be carefully chosen.