What are the major attractions of the Hunger Games?

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In Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, the lead-up to the games, as well as the Games themselves, provide a lot of excitement and entertainment for the people in the Capitol. This is ironic because the games involve children literally killing each other in a violent, obligatory reality show. All of the events are broadcast across Panem, to all districts. The citizens in most of the districts are not entertained by the Games, but they are forced to watch anyway. There are a couple of districts that raise "Careers," or young people who are trained to compete in and win the Hunger Games. The people in those districts rally around their "champions," but citizens in most districts only look at the Games as a source of sadness.

The people in the Capitol look at the Games as the biggest sporting event you can imagine. Before the Games, they take great interest in the Reapings that take place in each district to choose one boy and one girl to send as sacrificial lambs to the Games. Once the Reapings take place, media in the Capitol evaluate the participants and predict how they will fare, sort of like we do before the Super Bowl or World Series. Once the tributes are sent to the Capitol, they participate in training and then have to "perform" for a committee; after that, media and citizens can start placing bets and guessing odds on who will win. Next, there is a tribute parade before the Games begin. Each set of tributes parades in the Capitol toward the president, wearing garb representing their districts. They also participate in televised interviews. This allows citizens at home to form connections with the tributes, which only heightens the drama when their favorites are killed in competition. 

The Hunger Games, in part, serve as a critique of our insatiable desire for entertainment, even if entertainment involves watching others suffer.

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To the people of the Capitol and the wealthier districts (Districts 1, 2, and 4), the Hunger Games are basically a sporting event, much like football or soccer. Of course, to us, comparing football to an event in which 24 children fight to the death until only one is left standing is appalling, but it is a normal thing to these people. At the same time, the Games are also like a pageant (at least at the beginning), with incredible fashion displays and interviews. This means that the Games have the same attractions as both of those events.

  1. The social aspect of getting together to watch everything with everyone else (like going to a sports bar to watch a game)
  2. Enviable fashion during the parade and interviews
  3. Getting to know the tributes through their training score and interviews
  4. Analyzing the tributes' personalities to try to determine the winner
  5. Betting on your choice
  6. Seeing the new things the Game Master has the tributes face, such as the locations, the muttations, etc.
  7. Participating as a sponsor to help your favorite win
  8. Watching the action as the tributes fight
  9. Suspense as you wait to see who wins (sort of like getting really excited when a football player is nearing the end zone)
  10. Cheering/Lamenting when something happens

The Games are a huge social event in the Capitol, they practically take over the whole city as everyone is consumed by everything that is going on: the parade, the training, the interviews, the Games, the victor. Even when the Games are not happening, the victor (or victors, in the case of Katniss and Peeta) is traveling around the districts, visiting everyone and making speeches and paying tribute to the fallen tributes of each district. The Games are always present, always have something happening, for people to remember and enjoy.


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