How would we describe the purpose or message of The Hunger Games?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a book that has received something of a mixed reception thanks to the brutal violence that is depicted between children. However, I think we can make some helpful conclusions regarding the novel's purpose if we think about the setting and the way that this a dystopian novel. One of the aspects of dystopian literature is the way that harsh, authoritarian and tyrannical regimes oppress the rights of their citizens. Through Katniss the author shows how one person can defy such autocracy and tyranny. Although Katniss is forced to a certain extent to do what the Capitol requires of her, as she must fight in the Hunger Games and kill others to survive, at the same time, she actively looks for ways to shame the Capitol and to expose their abuse of power. Note what she feels after the death of Rue:

I want to do something, right here, right now, to shame them, to make them accountable, to show the Capitol that whatever they do or force us to do there is a part of every tribute they can't own. That Rue was more than a piece in their Games. And so am I.

Also, consider the way that Peeta and Katniss refuse to play along with the Capitol at the end, choosing to die together rather than having to kill one another. Through such events, the novel points towards the way that, no matter how harsh or repressive a regime, it is possible to resist and to oppose such tyrannical forces. However others treat us, we can choose to resist such objectifications and defy being oppressed through our actions, as Katniss shows.