7 Positive Ideas about The Hunger Games series
THE HUNGER GAMES MOVIE RELEASE INUNDATED THE NEWS LAST WEEK IN POP CULTURE REALMS. My teenager turned me onto the books about a year ago and I finally read them a few months ago. Devoured them actually, because once I started reading the series written by Suzanne Collins, I couldn’t stop. The main character, Katniss Everdeen, tells the horrible story from her point of view and although the absurd “games” are more about killing and survival, the complexity of her personality kept me reading. I found myself rooting for her through the whole situation and found it hard to realize that the character was a mere 15 – the actual age of my daughter in May.
I’ve read both positive and negative opinions about the books and subsequent movie. Whether you should allow your tween or teen to see it in theaters; why kids are killing in the book; and just plain stupid references to the title by media people who haven’t taken the time to read and understand. For me, the fact that the heroine in this book has a distinct character and strength makes up for any negatives.
- RESOURCEFULNESS AND SELF-RELIANCE – No man or vampire necessary to rescue Katniss in The Hunger Games. Are there indictions of her attraction to Gale and Peeta? Certainly, but not because of her belief that they will ‘complete’ her. One of Kat’s best traits is her ability to assess a situation quickly and determine the best course of action. Years of providing for her family’s food and care have made her mature beyond her years.
- INGENUITY – Katniss is clever. She can evaluate tools and nature (even the Capitol-manufactured environment of the games), along with the intentions of people and their motivations. This allows her to provide the unpredictable answer that often saves lives.
- A SENSE OF HERITAGE – Katniss’ father died when she was young, but throughout the story we see a heritage of plant and nature knowledge he instilled into her brain. Initially Katniss discounts her mother’s usefulness in the family following a long period of depression and loss. As the story unfolds, the healing hands of her mother begin to show themselves in Kat’s actions. Katniss did indeed learn from her mother and when she returns from the games seems to have a rediscovered appreciation for her contribution to the lives of others. This sense of heritage and taught instinct helped me to understand her personality.
- CARES FOR HER SISTER – Katniss shows empathy and the willingness to volunteer in her young sister’s place. Beyond that scene we see that it’s the thought of her sister’s expectations and connection which carry Kat through difficult moments. It causes her to form an alliance with tiny Rue when the other’s have long overlooked her abilities in the game as a potential winner. Primrose’s last words to Katniss after the candidate selection ring in her ears and cheer her forward.
- ACCURATE PORTRAYAL OF THE TEEN BRAIN – Despite her experience with sadness, loss, and desperate need in her District, Katniss is still a young girl. She is allowed the chance to mentally mature through even the simplist implications of hand-holding and what a gift might mean from an acquaintance. Kat holds onto memories and analyzes them for meaning like only a teenager could. Hardened adults don’t spend the time to worry about a moment’s glance, but Katniss does. Her complex and growing human brain is accurately portrayed despite the circumstances of the future world.
- SEXUAL REFERENCE IS RESTRAINED - Let’s be honest, when you are playing in the Hunger Games where your survival chances are 1:24, sex is not your first concern. But the attitude of sexuality does not invade this story. The heroine is beautiful in a simple, classic way. Her priorities before the game are family and community. Her ideals inside the game do not use sexuality as a tool. Even when groomed by the Capitol Districts designers, her vain side does not appear. She is not swayed by the “latest” or the “newest” or the “hottest”. Those terms are not really in her vocabulary. She is not in a rush to become part of a couple and when she does become part of a couple Katniss questions her own motives and intentions. How refreshing.
- THE SUPERFICIAL SOCIETY IS THE ANTAGONIST – When Katniss arrives in the Capitol she observes the gluttony and glitter of the district. Having only heard of the Capitol’s wastefulness and focus on the superficial is a true contrast from her poor coal-mining District 12. There is a clear reference to the negative effects on a society where wealth and opportunity are available to only a few. Of course those are the citizens who enjoy watching the Hunger Games because no one in their district loses a life. The domineering control of the President trickles down into every negative happening for Districts 1-12. The clear political thought throughout the series is: Do we want our future in the United States to be like the citizens of Panem?
The visuals I received from the text of the book were strong. So strong that I did not desire to see the movie adaptation until I finished reading the third book this week. I did allow Jordan (almost 15) to go with friends. Someone asked if I was scared to let her see the violence. No, I’m not. She’s knowledgable enough to discern what is positive and negative about the movie after reading the book. Oddly enough, I would allow William (now 10) to read the book series, but not see the movie until he’s older. There is a difference in the visual you get as a reader and then the one given to you as a passive observer.