Tag Archives: Literary Criticism

The Hunger Games / Week 7

25 Jul

Welcome to the Read Along of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Each Monday we will discuss new chapters. If you are interested in participating, check out the schedule here. Happy Reading!

Better late than never.

I was privy to a discussion on The Hunger Games recently. The people I was listening to – and here you can imagine me eavesdropping on a train or leaning over a table in a restaurant, but really I was just too tired to take part when my husband and sister in-law were talking right in front of me. So I just listened.

Anyway, the people I was listening to – they were talking about whether or not Katniss was a sympathetic character or not. My husband took the stance that she was not. That it was the writing that tells us she is supposed to be sympathetic, but it doesn’t show us. And the character therefore comes off as more spoiled/entitled than sympathetic: A Katniss that has no conception of the hardships of those around her. A Katniss that Doesn’t realize that her family, in the grand scheme of things, is probably a lot better off than others. She can hunt, they have a goat, and her mother is a healer, even if she is emotionally checked out.

In response to this, our sister reminded us that Katniss is a sixteen year old girl. Regardless of what the writing tells us or shows us, as far as sixteen year old girls go, Katniss is the opposite of spoiled and entitled. Katniss sacrifices herself for the life of her sister. She goes off and hunts each day, striving to take care of her family. She signs up for the tithing each year. And I can see both sides of the argument.

On the one hand, I don’t really feel like the character is really fleshed out. I don’t feel anything, really. Sure there have certainly been moments when I have been caught up in the story. Absolutely. And I think it is a good book. But it isn’t the type of book that has me totally in its grasp. It isn’t the type of book that has be suspended in anticipation until I can get my hands on the next one.

But on the other hand, what my sister is saying is absolutely right. I think back to when I was sixteen years old and EGAD. I certainly wasn’t sacrificing my life for someone else’s, and I certainly wasn’t out hunting day in and day out. Mostly because I didn’t need to…circumstances have a very heavy hand in creating our character. But this aspect of age reminded me again that I am reading a young adult book. A fact that I continue to forget, and I suspect that I keep forgetting this fact because of the subject matter. I don’t see the Katniss that  fixes up a wounded Peeta, or stakes out the feast, as a teenager. I see these characters as young adults in my mind. Close to 19, 20 than to 17. And those two years make a huge difference during the teenage years. HUGE.

So I find that interesting. I wonder if it is the circumstances that Katniss is in that influence how I view the age of the character, or if it just a personal tick that I bring to the reading? I wonder if this series would have read totally different for me had I been a different age myself?

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