The Hunger Games Questions and Answers
by Suzanne Collins

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How is Panem a dystopian society in The Hunger Games?

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Let's examine this by considering some of the characteristics of a dystopian society:

Conformity is expected and individuality is punished. We see this characteristic throughout Panem. Most notably, each District is required to send one boy and one girl tribute to the Hunger Games each year, and all but one of the group will die. Citizens are always expected to adhere completely to the rules of the Capitol; traitors have their tongues cut out and become an Avox. Of course, Katniss herself becomes a representation of individuality when she refuses to play by the rules of the Hunger Games, threatening to kill herself in a double suicide rather than kill Peeta. Her lack of conformity makes her an enemy of the Capitol and sets up the next book in the trilogy.

The society is presented as perfect but has many, deep flaws. The citizens of the Capitol most readily reflect this "perfect" life. Citizens there dye their hair and skin in bizarre colors as a matter of art and fashion. They enjoy lavish...

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rynyee | Student

By definition, Panem is a dystopia, a place where there are widespread issues, including a totalitarian government. Often in literature, dystopias can appear to be perfect at the onset until there is a reason for us, the reader, to see why it is bad, imperfect, and ultimately a toxic place to live. In Panem, we know from the outset that there is poverty and hunger and that the totalitarian government keeps its rule by enforcing the Hunger Games.

Another feature that is common among dystopian literature is that the main character either doesn't know there is anything wrong or feels unable to act and needs the help of others to create change (even a revolution) or to expose the evil perpetuated by the government. Katniss absolutely relies on others to become the face of the revolution, even though she doesn't know how to act as a leader of it.