Will you summarize The Hunger Games using the Marxist approach?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Marxism understands the world as divided into two groups: the workers, or proletariat, and the owners of businesses and industry, the bourgeois class. Whether they recognize it or not, the two classes are in perpetual conflict. Any idea that they can work together harmoniously is a mystification or false story, for the bourgeoisie will always exploit the proletariat, as that is how they make the profits that finance their comfortable lives.

The Hunger Games starkly portrays two distinct classes: the decadent, wealthy people who live in the Capital and the oppressed masses with hardly enough to eat who subsist in the provinces. Collins critiques this social order.

In a Marxist reading of the novel, the decadent upper classes don't produce goods that are needed by the society at large as socialism says society should. Instead, they waste resources on ridiculous fashions and foodstuffs. They are so bored that watching poor people kill each other in the Hunger Games becomes an entertaining pastime. They are corrupt and decadent, as Marx described the upper classes in his time period.

Katniss stands for the proletariat that is overworked and lives in hunger and poverty, exploited so the that upper classes can live with more than they know what to do with. The upper classes promote the Hunger Games as a way the lower classes can get ahead; Katniss exposes this as what Marxism would call a mystification or myth, showing that the Hunger Games are, in reality, a cruel exploitation of the vulnerable poor people. Participating in the Hunger Games isn't going to change the system or the lives of the average person. As Katniss discovers, it will take revolution to build a more just society. This is a bedrock principle of Marxism, which contends that the rich will never give up their power and that it must be wrested from them by force. Katniss first exhibits solidarity with others in her class when she challenges the winner-take-all ethos of the Hunger Games, and in later books in the series, she participates in a violent rebellion against the system, which is exactly what Marx advised as the only way for the proletariat to thrive.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What a great way to approach an understanding of what Collins is trying to convey in the novel!  A simple understanding of a Marxist reading of any novel is that the reader should evaluate the economic system of the time and place.  Marxism sees the world as being made up of two groups, the proletariat (workers) and the bourgeoisie (owners).  Marxism looks at this system as patently unfair because the majority of the wealth is held by the smallest group of people, and the poorest people are the ones who work their whole lives to eek out an existence for the profit of the few rich people.  In an ideal Marxist world, everyone would be equal and work equally -- earning what they need, not what they desire.  Profits are shared by the whole, not given to the elite.

In The Hunger Gameswe can clearly see this division of society.  The super elite/select people of the Capital want for nothing and are frivolous about nearly every aspect of their lives.  This is especially illustrated by the over-the-top things they do in the name of beauty.  The clothes and the food are beyond the imagination of someone of the lower class like Katniss.  She can't help but continually comment that one meal in the Capital is more food and better food that her family has in week or even a month.  The disparity between the Capital and the lives of the people in her home district, District 12 isoverwhelming!  She lives in the poorest and most proletariat of the districts and that is what makes this Marxist reading of the novel work so well.

The top of the society hasabsolute control over the actions of everyone else -- most obviously shown in the hunger games themselves.  The people of the capital have so much and take so much for granted that they are depraved.  Societies in this extreme are vulnerable because the masses (the poor) can only tolerate it for so long, thus we see the seeds of the uprising in this novel and a full "communist overthrow" by the end of the trilogy in Mockingjay.