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One of the most prevalent themes in The Hunger Games is survival, and keeping your humanity and dignity as you try to survive. Katniss and Peeta must survive the games of course, but they also must survive their daily lives in the district. The capitol has made life incredibly difficult for those living in the districts, and to survive the lack of food and adequate necessities requires great strength of spirit. Some people in the districts give up, and others manage to survive but become heartless or mentally unstable. Katniss is a true survivor, she pulls her family through the tough time after her father's death, when otherwise they would not have survived. Katniss' mother is one of the ones who gives up, and becomes mentally unstable when her husband dies. Katniss realizes that she must stay strong and in control in order to keep her family alive. She continues this practice during the Hunger Games. During Katniss and Peeta's training, Peeta tells Katniss that if he dies in the arena, he wants to do it with his dignity intact. Peeta knows that chances of survival are slim, but if he can die as himself, with his humanity and dignity in place, he can face death. In other years of the games, people had gone insane or become incredibly violent and homicidal, eating competitor's hearts and doing unspeakable things in order to survive. Peeta is not willing to compromise his humanity, and would rather die with dignity.
There are a few themes that can represent the Hunger Games. The easiest to see is, of course, survival. The tributes fight against each other and the elements to survive the games. And the citizens of the districts fight to survive their daily lives where. In the later books this theme continues.
A further look could focus on human rights and equality of citizens. Citizens of the Capitol have every luxury and do not have to choose tributes to fight in the games. And the districts who normally win the games are rewarded with regular supplies. Other districts, like Katniss's District 12, are constantly faced with shortages. This could be taken farther to explore different types of governments. This as well is further developed later in books. You even compare current events in the Middle East to events in the last book.
Media control and manipulation certainly feature as themes, particularly as correlated with the government's use of same as a form of repression. I am not sure that Suzanne Collins mounts the same intellectually compelling argument against government control as in novels like 1984 but the story is a good read for a YA audience and will certainly have people questioning things like reality/competitive TV (Big Brother, ... Got Talent, the Idol shows) and the cult of celebrity. I liked the parts in District 1 before the Games began about the machinations of stylists and TV hosts.
The parallels with ancient Rome are interesting; the 'circus' as diversion for the masses compares with 'the hunger games', the triumphant progress of games victors after the event matches with Rome's triumphs for her generals. And Collins even sprinkles a number of Roman names through district one.
As I was reading the first novel in the triology, I kept thinking about Survivor, Big Brother, and any number of other hugely popular televised series from the last couple of decades. Any number of possible themes might emerge from that comparison: To what extent is entertainment also exploitation? Why do we seem to be so obsessed with the idea of surveillance and the widespread broadcasting of images? What are the connections between power and propoganda? Or the differences between alliances and friendships?
The other two novels in the series really continue to develop the idea that image is everything (or, to use fancier terms, what we call reality is itself a construct,) so I'm going to go with that as a theme that hasn't been stated yet in this discussion. The reader learns that nearly all of the main characters (is Peeta the exception?) is concerned with how their image or someone else's image is coming across and what effect it might have on the general population. (Some details in the books really work well in this theme, such as the recurring use of the language of film editing. The whole "Mockingjay" costume thing in the third novel struck me as a little too much like a comic-book superhero, though, but it certainly also works with this theme.)
I actually just finished reading this novel not too long ago. I think that you could read quite a bit into this story, depending on which character's perspective you are coming from. THere's the idea of building relationships and allowing yourself to trust in your friends. There is the theme of kharma and treating others the way you wish to be treated. The main character remembers how the boy (sorry I can't remember names off the top of my head) treated her when she was little and so in turn she helps him. Then if you look at it on a larger level, there are the political themes, tying to them revolting against the 'powerful government' and standing up for what they believe is right; the little girl did so for her sister, and they did at the end when they refused to kill one another.
Friendship, survival, death, romance, power, humanity/inhumanity, unity, risk, fear
I believe one of the most prevalent themes of The Hunger Games is a theme of the power struggle among people in the capitol, such as Snow or Coin (who's name, by the way, is no coincidence). This major theme is most easily compared to "Julius Cesar". It is a theme of power and downfall. Depending on what grade you're in you could look more deeply in to the political aspect, and provide a very concise summary of the possible political views of Susanne Collins that she was trying to convey. You could really deep into this by offering another idea, possibly as your thesis to grab attention if it's going to be completely about major themes.
Of course I'm assuming that its an essay, which its probably not... well I hope I helped anyways.
One of the main established themes in The Hunger Games is continued survival, and maintaining your compassion and pride while you try to survive. Katniss and Peeta must stay alive in the games of course, must as well continue living to endure their every day lives in the district. The capitol has made living unbelievably easier said than done for individuals living in the districts, and to survive being short of food and enough supplies requires enormous power of strength. Some citizens in the districts offer up, and others manage to survive but become cold-blooded or psychologically not fixed. In additional years of the sports competition the community had gone crazy or become extremely aggressive and murderous. Eating competitor's hearts and doing terrifying things in order to stay alive. Peeta is not willing to compromise his civilization, and would somewhat die with self-respect. The Hunger Games are full of sacrifices. Katniss makes a giant individual sacrifice when she takes her sister's position within the Hunger Games. She and Peeta sacrifice themselves for every other at the ending of the Games while they pop the berries in their mouth. Katniss and Peeta are eager to die as one. Or they would have, if the broadcaster hadn't stopped them. Sacrifices create a big collision since they remind us that human life means something. In a world of truth activity similar to the Hunger Games, that can be a very powerful thing.
When I teach The Hunger Games I am sure to check on themes of power, respect and sacrifice. Each of these carries through the novel and is well-developed.
Survival, death, romance, power, humanity/inhumanity, and unity are main themes in "The Hunger Games"
A good theme for the Hunger Games is " Brains over Brawn" because using your wit, you make overcome strength and muscle.
A major theme is survival but also not to give up. Once Katniss knew her sister was going to be in the Hunger Games, she knew her chance of survival was slim and even without that, there was no way she'd let anything happen to her sister and she volunteered for tribute. Throughout the entire Hunger Games, it was full of techniques regarding survival and whether it was the hornets, the gas, lack of food, or the crazed animals near the end, it was all about surviving. All the tributes were in it to win it and to win it meant to survive, with one survivor.
A great theme for the Hunger Games could be survival and sacrafice. From the time Katniss was 11 she had to sacrifice her own safety in order to feed her family and have them survive while her mother just wasn't able to cope with the death of their father. Another point could be that could be used is that in order for her family to stay intact she volunteered herself to into the Games instead of her sister. Now it is my opinion that when Katniss became close to Rue, and her protective instincts awoke, the relativity of survival hit her hard and she stop playing defense sacrificed what morals she had and basically killed. Also with her sacrificing her morals she lead the public to believe she was a helpless romantic, which we all knew she wasn't, in order to survive and make it out of the games. She even sacrificed her life to survive, I'm referring to the part in the book where Peter and herself are about to eat the poisonous berries.
The cruelty of human nature is another good theme for The Hunger Games. People will go to any extent to survive. Peeta's mother scolds him for giving burnt food away. The "careers" fight in a bloodthirsty manner and fight of their own will for the fame and fortune. That society has lost sight of what matters the most and is a reflection of the cruelty of human nature.
It is the survival of humanity and the survival of the humanity in humans. Often, when survivability kicks in, humanity is thrown out and there is rapid degradation in our actions from civilized to savages. Due to this, Katniss struggles with true love and on-screen love, struggles to come to terms to people whom she grows to know and associate with who sacrifice themselves for the ultimate usage of herself as the Mockingjay. Also it shows the attempt to create a utopia ends up being a dystopia. It is not that obvious as to how the people of the Capitol got to their places and the society depicted in the books are originally formed, but from the last book, Katniss speculates if there were a group of "victors" long ago that sat at a round table to discuss the fate of the "evil" beings, the people of the districts at that time, which culminated in the creation of the Hunger Games. This could also be a central theme as to the series from the fact that the rebellion was lead by District 13's head, whose district was the one who "ceased to exist"when the districts were losing, and then suddenly at the top leading, but grabbing the power after the fighting, after the war efforts from all OTHER districts had been successful. In the climb for Utopia, there are people with the same goal for different motives, and this is what Katniss finally realizes at the very end of the series. This, I think would be the main, core, central theme of the book, that the attempt at Utopia always falls to dystopia.
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