Study Guide

The Hunger Games Politics

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Chapter 1

When I was younger, I scared my mother to death, the things I would blurt out about District 12, about the people who rule our country, Panem, from the far-off city called the Capitol. Eventually I understood this would only lead us to more trouble. So I learned to hold my tongue and to turn my features into an indifferent mask so that no one could ever read my thoughts. (1.11)

Free speech, we learn, is not a given in Panem. Katniss censors herself because of the fears her mother has of the government. Notice how she has to hide her thoughts and her emotions in District 12. Notice too that she will have to do the same in the arena during the Hunger Games.

The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins. (1.75)

The Hunger Games, we learn, are a kind of punishment for the uprising that happened so long ago. Why are the Hunger Games so effective, do you think, at keeping the districts from rebelling again?

Chapter 2

To the everlasting credit of the people of District 12, not one person claps. Not even the ones holding betting slips, the ones who are usually beyond caring. Possibly because they know me from the Hob, or knew my father, or have encountered Prim, who no one could help loving. So instead of acknowledging applause, I sand there unmoving while they take part in the boldest form of dissent they can manage. Silence. Which says we do not agree. We do not condone. All of this is wrong. (2.16)

For the people of District 12, the most powerful protest of the Hunger Games comes in the form of silence. They refuse to take part in forced festivity of the event after Katniss sacrifices herself for her sister.

Chapter 6
Haymitch Abernathy

"Whose idea was the hand holding?" asks Haymitch.

"Cinna's," says Portia.

"Just the perfect touch of rebellion," says Haymitch. (6.32-34)

The tributes' gesture is read as a symbol of protest. Is it also about getting the attention from the audience?

Chapter 9

All I can think is how unjust the whole thing is, the Hunger Games. Why am I hopping around like some trained dog trying to please people I hate? The longer the interview goes on, the more my fury seems to rise to the surface, until I'm literally spitting out answers at him. (9.22)

Katniss has to hide what she knows: that the Hunger Games are unjust and terrible. Unable to speak her mind, she seethes with anger.

Chapter 14

After the war, the Capitol destroyed all the nests surrounding the city, but the ones near the districts were left untouched. Another reminder of our weakness, I suppose, just like the Hunger Games. Another reason to keep inside the fence of District 12. (14.3)

We learn that the mutant tracker jackers were a form of governmental control. They were placed around the districts to keep people from leaving their regions.

Chapter 15

It's interesting, hearing about her life. We have so little communication with anyone outside our district. In fact, I wonder if the Gamemakers are blocking out our conversation, because even though the information seems harmless, they don't want people in different districts to know about one another. (15.46)

The Gamemakers control the information each District has about the other. How does this help the government?

Chapter 18

Gale's voice is in my head. His ravings against the Capitol no longer pointless, no longer to be ignored. Rue's death has forced me to confront my own fury against the cruelty, the injustice they inflict upon us. But here, even more strongly than at home, I feel my impotence. There's no way to take revenge on the Capitol. Is there?

Then I remember Peeta's words on the roof. "Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to …to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games." And for the first time, I understand what he means. (18.36-37)

Both Gale and Peeta have voiced their frustrations about the government, and here Katniss finally gets where they're coming from. How does she decide to take revenge on the Capitol?

Chapter 26

So I still have a chance, though. Funny, in the arena, when I poured out those berries, I was only thinking of outsmarting the Gamemakers, not how my actions would reflect on the Capitol. But the Hunger Games are their weapon and you are not supposed to be able to defeat it. So now the Capitol will act as if they've been in control the whole time. As if they orchestrated the whole event, right down to the double suicide. But that will only work if I play along with them. (26.65)

The Hunger Games are all about the power of the Capitol, so they've got to appear to be in control. How does Katniss and Peeta's double suicide stunt undermine their authority?

Chapter 27

Something inside me shuts down and I'm too numb to feel anything. It's like watching complete strangers in another Hunger Games. But I do notice they omit the part where I covered her in flowers.

Right. Because even that smacks of rebellion. (27.7-8)

The Hunger Games are entertainment for the people of Panem, but they're also a form of propaganda for the government. Therefore, all acts of rebellion will be censored from the final edit of the show.

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