Introductory Lecture and Objectives

The Hunger Games eNotes Lesson Plan content

Introductory Lecture

The Hunger Games, a young adult book published in 2008, focuses on the experiences of 16-year-old heroine Katniss Everdeen as she faces death in a gladiatorial arena in the futuristic country of Panem. Many of the dystopian novel’s central themes revolve around the conflict between survival and humanity and reveal how freedom of choice offers the possibility of defiance within a cruel and totalitarian regime. Of particular note is the way the author, Suzanne Collins, gives razor-sharp focus to the invasive and corrupting qualities of reality television and technology. Although it is a work of fiction, the novel mirrors our own society in a way that is fascinating and disturbing. 

The Hunger Games is the first book in Collins’s trilogy that follows Everdeen in her struggles to fight for freedom in a country ruled by a tyrannical government. (2009’s Catching Fire and 2010’s Mockingjay complete the triology.) Panem has arisen from the ashes of a post-apocalyptic North America destroyed by floods and other natural disasters. The country is divided into poor districts that serve and are tightly controlled by a totalitarian government seated in the wealthy, technology-centered Capitol. The Hunger Games, deadly gladiatorial contests, are mandated by the government as a means of oppressing the residents of the districts: Each year, two children from each district are selected as tributes to enter an arena and fight to the death, reminding the districts of the Capitol’s power and control over their lives. 

Collins has said that the book was partly inspired by channel surfing on television. While flipping between a program with footage from the invasion of Iraq and a program depicting contestants in a TV reality show, she found the two concepts begin to “blur in this very unsettling way.” Other touchstones Collins relied upon in creating the book include the Greek myth of Theseus, a story that informs Katniss’s character, and the Roman gladiatorial games, which clearly provided a foundation for the novel’s Hunger Games. 

Written in a simple style that employs strong, visceral language and nearly constant suspense, The Hunger Games has become immensely popular. The film version of the novel, which was released in 2011, was also a huge success and only increased the book’s visibility and notoriety. Many critics point out that the novel’s popularity results in part from the themes Collins develops, themes that resonate with modern teenagers, including the idea of the “pack mentality” with the strong preying upon the weak and the notion that style and appearance can trump substance. Also, despite the futuristic setting, the struggles of the teenage characters are depicted realistically. Many of the decisions they must make are morally complex, requiring the ability to perceive how forces beyond themselves attempt to manipulate them. 

Although this dystopian novel is filled with dark passages and scenes of terrible violence, ultimately it offers a message of hope through its strong themes of friendship, compassion, and unity. The Hunger Games is a compelling and thought-provoking introduction to the genre of dystopian novels for young adult readers. 

By the end of the unit the student will be able to: 

1. Reference themes, plot points, and characters in the novel in discussing how The Hunger Games explores freedom of choice as a means of resistance in a society that dehumanizes individuals. 

2. Explain how and why the totalitarian regime in the Capitol evolved in this society and identify the means by which it creates and maintains control of the districts. 

3. Identify the dystopian elements throughout the novel; in particular, discuss how the Capitol’s totalitarian government works to control language, law, and even nature. 

4. Explore the Capitol’s relationship with District 12 and discuss the effects of the social inequality it creates. 

5. Compare the way media control and manipulation function in our society with how they function in the novel and investigate how media affects the quality of life in each society. 

6. Discuss how the novel explores themes of love, friendship, and unity, offering specific examples from the novel. 

7. Investigate the actions of those who are oppressed by a culture of fear and live in a society with cruel, inhumane laws. Which of their actions does the novel appear to condone? 

8. Discuss the connection in the novel between deprivation and survival and explain how learning survival skills can build qualities such as strength and dignity. 

9. Describe the setting in the arena and the ways in which the Gamemakers use both physical and psychological tools to control the tributes and orchestrate the Games. 

10. Explore the ways the author inverts the ideas of civilization and savagery and for what purpose.

Instructional Focus: Teaching With an eNotes Lesson Plan

This eNotes lesson plan is designed so that it may be used in numerous ways to accommodate ESL students and to differentiate instruction in the classroom.

Student Lesson Guide

• The Lesson Guide is organized for a chapter-by-chapter study of the book. Lesson Guide pages may be assigned individually and completed at a student’s own pace.

• Lesson Guide pages may be used as pre-reading activities to preview for students the vocabulary words they will encounter in reading each chapter and to acquaint them generally with the chapter’s content.

• Before Lesson Guide pages are assigned, questions may be selected from them to use as short quizzes to assess reading comprehension.

• Lesson Guide vocabulary lists include words from the book that vary in difficulty.

1. The vocabulary lists for each chapter are sufficiently comprehensive so that shorter lists of vocabulary words can be constructed from them.

2. Working from the lesson plan’s chapter vocabulary lists, the teacher also may construct vocabulary studies for individual students, choosing specific words from each chapter that are most appropriate for them.

Discussion Questions

The discussion questions vary in degree of difficulty.

1. Some questions require higher levels of critical thinking; others engage students with less challenging inquiry.

2. Individual discussion questions may be assigned to students working in pairs or in small study groups; their contributions may then be added to a whole-class discussion.

Multiple-Choice/Essay Test

Test questions also vary in degree of difficulty.

1. Some multiple-choice questions address the factual content of the book; others require students to employ critical thinking skills, such as analyzing; comparing and contrasting;...

(The entire section is 514 words.)

Essay and Discussion Questions

1. Why do you think the author chose to tell the story from Katniss’s point of view? How would it differ if told from the point of view of Cato or another strong, well-trained tribute from a wealthier district? How would the story change if it were told from Peeta’s point of view? 

2. What are the similarities and differences between the way televised entertainment is presented in the book and the way it exists in our society? 

3. Consider the most common gender stereotypes about who’s capable of killing and protecting. Do they apply in this book? Why or why not? 

4. Interpret the author’s choice of the mockingjay as an important symbol in the novel. What does it symbolize, and why is that important? 

5. Explore Katniss’s ambivalent feelings for Gale and Peeta and why her character might have trouble forging close relationships. 

6. Explain how the powerlessness of the people in the poorer districts changes in the novel. How does the inequality and hopelessness of their plight seem different at the beginning of the book and at the end? Use examples from the novel in your discussion. 

7. Discuss how the society of Panem is both similar to and different from our own, particularly as regards class and social inequality. 

8. Explain the methods the Capitol employs to threaten and destabilize the populations in the districts. How does controlling the populations benefit the government? How does government control relate to the book’s title? 

9. Examine the theme of the natural world. What does nature represent? How does the oppressive regime in the Capitol attempt to corrupt and manipulate nature? Does it succeed, and if so, to what extent? 

10. Explain the sacrifice, selflessness, compassion, and empathy demonstrated by Katniss and Peeta, and give examples of how the pair displayed these traits. How does their empathy affect the outcome of the Games for them, the citizens of the Capitol, and the other districts? 

11. Analyze the relationships the Capitol has with Districts 11 and 12 and Districts 1 and 2. What are the effects of the social inequality created by the relationships? 

12. Discuss The Hunger Games as a “dystopian” novel, one that critiques the notion of what makes an “ideal” society by depicting instead a society characterized by a sense of isolation, powerlessness, and fear. Given the bleakness associated with this type of novel, discuss the overall feeling generated by The Hunger Games. Do you feel its themes are bleak or hopeful? Why or why not?

Chapter 1


affected: not genuine or natural

apothecary: a person who prepares and sells medicines

arena: the specified area in which the tributes participate in the Hunger Games

black market: an underground economy that illegally sells and trades goods

Capitol: the central city of Panem that controls the 12 districts

cinder: ash

claustrophobic: uncomfortable in or afraid of small contained spaces

cocooned: completely wrapped within some covering (often fabric or clothes)

cumulative: increasing or increased by successive additions

Dark Days: a time when the districts rebelled against the Capitol

delicacies: food dishes that are considered...

(The entire section is 2045 words.)

Chapter 2


blind: a shelter for hunters that’s designed to reduce the chance of detection

condone: to accept behavior that is considered morally wrong or offensive

dissent: a sentiment or philosophy of nonagreement or opposition to a prevailing idea or regime, such as a government’s policies

exposure: lack of protection from severe weather

luscious: juicy, delicious

mesmerized: fascinated, captivated

plaited: braided

plummets: falls

predicament: an unpleasant or difficult situation

protocol: a code prescribing strict adherence to correct etiquette and rules

reeks: strong or disagreeable fumes or odors

sodden: completely wet


(The entire section is 652 words.)

Chapter 3


abandonment: renunciation of protection, support, or help

Appalachia: the region in the eastern United States, comprising the Appalachian Mountains, that stretches roughly from southern New York state to central Alabama; known for coal mining

bludgeon: to beat with extreme force

conceivably: possibly

concoction: a combination of various ingredients

decrepit: worn out or ruined because of age or neglect

enunciate: clearly pronounce

evasive: dishonest or indirect

homing: an adjective used to describe birds that are trained to return home

immobilizing: causing an inability to move

insurmountable: impossible to overcome


(The entire section is 800 words.)

Chapter 4


arrowheads: rocks in the shape of arrows

battered: beaten, injured

carcass: dead body of an animal

Cornucopia: a large horn-shaped structure in the Hunger Games arena that’s full of provisions such as goods and weapons needed by tributes

deteriorated: greatly decreased in quality; to have fallen apart

elaborate: intricate

game: wild animals hunted for sport or food

gorged: consumed greedily

grandeur: magnificence, grandness

katniss: a type of edible water plant

oblivion: a state of lacking conscious knowledge or awareness

obscenities: vulgar or rude speech; curse words

pokeweed: an American herb with spikes of...

(The entire section is 753 words.)

Chapter 5


affectations: acts that display an attitude or mode of behavior not natural to oneself or not genuinely felt

circulation: movement of the blood through the body caused by the heart pumping blood

clipped: short, abrupt

concession: an admission, an acknowledgment

demeanor: behavior, attitude, conduct

despicable: horrible, shameful

engulfed: enclosed; overwhelmed

flamboyant: showy and flashy

giddy: joyfully elated

grotesque: distorted in a way that is frightening or unnatural

petrified: terrified; paralyzed by fright

prestigious: holding a commanding position; held in high honor or standing

swathe: to bind or wrap...

(The entire section is 705 words.)

Chapter 6


advantage: a factor or circumstance of benefit to its possessor

adversaries: enemies; opponents

Avox: a traitor to the Capitol whose tongue has been cut out and who is forced to be a servant

barbarism: mode of behavior that is cruel and often violent

chaperoned: to be in the presence of someone who is watching you to make sure you act properly

deftly: skillfully

graphite: a soft black and lustrous form of carbon that conducts electricity and is used in lead pencils, among other things

hovercraft: a type of flying vehicle

maimed: injured, disfigured

mutilate: to injure or disfigure

reservations: misgivings, doubts


(The entire section is 887 words.)

Chapter 7


amiable: friendly

animate: to enliven, to make lifelike

assent: to agree

barter: to trade

brutality: extreme violence

burgundy: a reddish-purple color

camouflage: concealment by means of disguise

Career tributes: tributes from Districts 1 and 2 who have spent their entire lives training to compete in the Hunger Games

combative: aggressive; eager to fight

contempt: scorn

deluged: overwhelmed or overrun

demean: to insult

edible: suitable for consumption

emaciated: very thin; physically wasted

Gamemakers: people from the Capitol in charge of designing and running the Games

glower: to glare...

(The entire section is 928 words.)

Chapter 8


arduous: difficult, hard

burlap: a strong, rough fabric often used for making bags

confidant: one to whom secrets are entrusted

gaping: huge, wide open

grudgingly: reluctantly, without enthusiasm

guffaws: loud laughs

irredeemably: beyond remedy or repair; hopelessly

leniency: mercy

mutual: shared in common

provoked: stirred up

pungent: strong, overpowering

reprieved: excused, cancelled, or postponed

sidestep: to avoid

solitary: alone; without companions

spoils: plunder taken from an enemy in war

twitch-up snares: snares used to catch victims and hang them from trees


(The entire section is 688 words.)

Chapter 9


absorbent: capable of soaking up liquid

aggravating: irritating, annoying

aloof: standoffish, unfriendly

anecdote: a brief story

banal: lacking originality, freshness, or novelty

banter: to speak in a witty or teasing manner

eccentric: strange or unusual (used often in regard to personal behavior)

elusive: mysterious; hard to find or capture

get-go: the beginning

gossamer: delicate, light

handiwork: work done personally

intrigued: interested, curious

longevity: endurance, durability

ludicrous: outrageous, unbelievable

lush: lavish

mystified: bewildered, confused, puzzled

octave: a...

(The entire section is 811 words.)

Chapter 10


aghast: struck with terror, amazement, or horror

barren: desolate; unfruitful

bluff: to impress, deter, or intimidate by a false display of confidence

breached: broken through, opened

catacombs: underground passageways; a subterranean cemetery

hysteria: emotional panic, frenzy

patronizing: adopting an air of condescension; treating haughtily

ruminating: pondering, thinking over

Stockyard: the place where the tributes are prepared to go into the arena

syringe: a medical device used to inject or withdraw fluids

urn: a large vase

winning: charming, likable

Study Questions

1. How does the...

(The entire section is 946 words.)

Chapter 11


adrenaline: a hormone in the body that regulates heart rate

directive: command, instruction

intermixed: combined, blended together

invaluable: priceless

iodine: a chemical element normally used for medical and cleaning purposes

rejuvenating: refreshing, renewing

serrated: saw-toothed or jagged

sparse: consisting of few and scattered elements; not thickly grown or settled

Study Questions

1. What is the Cornucopia? In what way is it ironic?

The Cornucopia is the giant golden horn at the center of the arena that contains everything, such as food and weapons, tributes might use to help them survive being...

(The entire section is 836 words.)

Chapter 12


abstain: to refrain deliberately

ails: troubles, bothers

bewilderment: confusion, puzzlement

charred: burned

dehydrate: to lose water or bodily fluids

fashion: to put together; to create; to make

fatigue: tiredness, exhaustion

foliage: leaves

forthcoming: about to appear or to be produced or made available

hoist: to raise, to lift

imprudent: foolish, irresponsible

innards: the internal organs of a human being or animal

lure: temptation

purifying: removing undesirable elements

scarcity: shortage, lack

searing: very hot; marked by extreme intensity, harshness, or emotional power


(The entire section is 453 words.)

Chapter 13


abate: to slow down, to stop

apace: quickly, rapidly

bravado: boldness, boasting

circuitous: indirect, twisting, winding

confronting: facing, dealing with

consolation: comfort

conspiratorially: with a secretive manner

crevice: a crack, a gap

fiend: an evil, cruel person

inferno: an intense fire; a conflagration

instincts: natural or inherent aptitudes, impulses, or capacities

intact: whole

manipulate: to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means, especially to one’s own advantage

materialize: appear in bodily or physical form; to appear especially suddenly

potency: strength,...

(The entire section is 646 words.)

Chapter 14


befuddled: confused

cinch: an easy feat

disintegrates: falls apart

eradicated: eliminated, destroyed

evade: to avoid

hyperventilating: breathing faster or deeper than normal; overbreathing

inflamed: swollen

land mines: explosive charges usually placed just below the surface of the ground (designed to explode under the weight of vehicles or people)

persevere: to continue, to endure

precariously: dangerously, riskily

putrid: rotten, decaying

sated: satisfied

sedated: drugged with a sedative; made unresponsive, sluggish, or sleepy

strategically: with a defined purpose

tracker jackers: wasps genetically...

(The entire section is 602 words.)

Chapter 15


ally: to unite or to form a connection or relationship between

anoint: to smear or rub with an oily substance

contend: to struggle, to strive or to vie against difficulties

groosling: a type of wild bird found in the Hunger Games arena and some districts of Panem

hallucination: a perception of objects with no reality, usually arising from a disorder of the nervous system or in response to drugs

haven: a safe place

honeysuckle: a type of shrub with bright, sweet-smelling flowers

leaching: sucking out

manifest: become visible

nectar: juice from a flower or plant

noxious: physically harmful or destructive to living beings


(The entire section is 588 words.)

Chapter 16


accomplice: a partner, an ally

copse: a small group of trees that have grown together

dexterity: mental or physical skill or quickness

disadvantage: weakness

domineering: controlling, overbearing

meticulous: marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details

misgivings: doubts

momentum: a property of a moving body that determines the length of time required to bring it to rest when under the action of a constant force

mulling: considering, thinking over

needling: annoying, irritating

obliging: helpful, cooperative

ordeal: a trial, a test

perplexing: confusing

poised: not yet...

(The entire section is 587 words.)

Chapter 17


acrid: harsh smelling

decadent: luxurious

proximity: nearness, closeness

roosting: perching in a tree

salvage: to save; to find usable things in a pile of wreckage

tantrum: a fit of bad temper

tinder: a flammable substance adaptable to use as kindling to start a fire

undetectable: completely concealed

Study Questions

1. Why can’t Katniss escape quickly after the explosion? In the aftermath of the explosion, what is particularly frightening to her, and why is it so fearful?

Katniss feels very dizzy, perhaps from a head injury; she can’t seem to move. She also can’t hear, and one of her ears is...

(The entire section is 381 words.)

Chapter 18


audible: able to be heard

capacity: ability

consolidate: combine

despondency: hopelessness

impotence: the inability to take action or show strength

inducement: incentive, a reason to do something

lethargy: weariness, exhaustion, lack of energy

replenish: to fill up again; to restock

statistics: a branch of mathematics dealing with the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of masses of numerical data

Study Questions

1. Who attacks Rue, and what is the result?

The boy tribute from District 1 spears Rue in the stomach after she becomes entangled in a net.


(The entire section is 777 words.)

Chapter 19


alleviate: to ease, to lessen, to lighten

assailants: attackers

caliber: the quality of someone’s character or the level of someone’s ability

contagion: the transmission of a disease from one person to another by close contact, or a disease spread in such a way

gash: a long deep slash, cut, or wound

incapacitated: deprived of natural power; disabled

jeopardize: to put at risk

levity: lightheartedness, cheerfulness

loathe: hate

pariahs: individuals who are despised or rejected by a group

peruse: to read, to examine, to inspect

ruse: a wily subterfuge; a clever action intended to deceive someone

squeamish: easily...

(The entire section is 655 words.)

Chapter 20


buck: a male deer or antelope

chives: an edible plant related to the onion

coaxing: persuading

doe: a female deer

drastic: extreme, radical

exasperation: frustration, annoyance

gaggle: a group

idly: lazily

incoherence: the quality of lacking order, continuity, or relevance

mauled: clawed or bitten

staged: intended for an audience

stalemate: a deadlock

tethered: tied to

tuft: a small cluster of plants or hair

yearling: an animal that is one year old or in the second year of its life

Study Questions

1. For Katniss, what are the disadvantages of helping Peeta? Why...

(The entire section is 758 words.)

Chapter 21


asset: something useful or valuable

defiance: to act with resistance; to refuse to obey

emanating: coming out from a source

irreparable: beyond repair

ominous: threatening

prearranged: planned beforehand

prolong: to lengthen in time

sadistic: to delight in excessive cruelty

savor: to enjoy, to relish

vicinity: proximity; a surrounding area

Study Questions

1. During the cold night before the dinner party as she thinks about her family and friends, what does Katniss envision unfolding back in District 12?

She pictures everyone in District 12 in high spirits, cheering her and Peeta on. She...

(The entire section is 647 words.)

Chapter 22


exorbitant: exceeding customary or appropriate limits

fabricated: invented, created

irreverent: lacking proper respect or seriousness

rabid: extremely violent; furious

reluctance: the quality or state of feeling aversion, hesitation, or unwillingness

riveting: fascinating

simultaneously: at the same time

sinister: evil, menacing

tainted: stained, infected

tirades: a protracted speech usually marked by intemperate, vituperative, or harshly censorious language

Study Questions

1. Dreams are a recurring motif in the novel. Explain how Katniss’s dreaming is ironic. What are two examples of this irony?...

(The entire section is 644 words.)

Chapter 23

eerie: mysterious, strange, and frightening

extricating: freeing or removing from an entanglement or difficulty

nightlock: a type of poisonous berry that grows wild in the woods outside District 12 and is also present in the arena

noncommittal: guarded, evasive

peevishly: fretfully

preoccupation: a worry or concern

relent: to give in, to cease resistance

repellent: disgusting, revolting

residual: an internal aftereffect of experience or activity that influences later behavior

respite: an interval of rest or relief

Victor’s Village: a neighborhood of upscale homes built in each district where victors go to live after they win the Hunger Games


(The entire section is 896 words.)

Chapter 24


dissonant: jarringly discordant; incongruous

enraged: furious, filled with anger

mesmerized: enthralled, fascinated

outfoxed: outsmarted

unhinged: mentally deranged

Study Questions

1. Do Peeta and Katniss discard the poisonous berries? Why or why not?

Peeta is about to throw them away, but Katniss has the idea of putting a few berries into a leather pouch to take with them. Since the berries fooled Foxface, she reasons, they might fool Cato.

2. What is Katniss’s opinion of Cato as an adversary? Describe at least one way in which she thinks the two of them are similar.

Katniss thinks Cato...

(The entire section is 441 words.)

Chapter 25


asphyxiation: death caused by inadequate oxygen supply or interruption of breathing

callously: heartlessly, coldly

climax: the point of highest dramatic tension or a major turning point in the action, as of a play

devised: planned, plotted

dwindling: decreasing

hindquarters: the back legs of an animal

revision: alteration

revoked: cancelled, withdrawn

tourniquet: a bandage tied tightly to stop or slow bleeding from a wound

unintelligible: impossible to understand

Study Questions

1. Where do the tributes retreat to that offers a bit of safety at the start of the chapter?

The Cornucopia....

(The entire section is 912 words.)

Chapter 26


accumulated: collected, gathered

antiseptic: scrupulously clean; free from contamination

benign: of gentle disposition; gracious

compromise: settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions

contrived: forced, false

feral: wild

garish: tasteless, gaudy

indeterminate: unknown

orchestrated: arranged to achieve a desired effect

unassuming: modest

Study Questions

1. What disorients Katniss when she and Peeta are brought onto the hovercraft?

After experiencing so many traumas in the arena, Katniss imagines the doctors who take Peeta away are just another...

(The entire section is 712 words.)

Chapter 27


crucial: decisive or critical; of great importance

disproportionate: too large or too small in comparison with something else

feat: a deed notable especially for courage; an act or product of skill, endurance, or ingenuity

flaunted: paraded or displayed ostentatiously

insidious: treacherous, having a gradual and cumulative effect

instigator: one who provokes, goads, or urges on

keen: intense, strong

misguided: led or prompted by wrong or inappropriate motives or ideals

omit: to leave out

palpable: capable of being touched or felt; tangible

Study Questions

1. At the beginning of the chapter, Katniss...

(The entire section is 1193 words.)

Multiple-Choice Test and Answer Key

1. At what age are children first included in the reaping for the Hunger Games?

A. 13

B. 10

C. 8

D. 11

E. 12

2. What word does Katniss say is synonymous with “tribute” in District 12?

A. survivor

B. hunger

C. corpse

D. weakling

E. coal miner

3. Panem is a country located in a post-apocalyptic North America. To what part of North America does District 12 most closely correspond?

A. the Rocky Mountains

B. Appalachia

C. the Midwest in the...

(The entire section is 930 words.)

Essay Exam Questions With Answers

1. Describe how exercising the freedom of choice and acting independently are presented as forms of resistance in the novel. Also, discuss the author’s general view regarding the most effective way to resist a cruel and oppressive government. Support your essay with specific evidence from the text.

The author establishes immediately that the society in the novel is one in which freedom of choice is limited by cruel, oppressive laws. The people of District 12 live within a tightly restricted world; even something as essential as hunting for food is forbidden, and as a result, many people starve to death. Katniss, however, chooses to break the law to meet the responsibility she feels for feeding her family; Gale...

(The entire section is 3276 words.)