Study Guide

The Hunger Games Violence

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SNOW: War. Terrible war. Widows, orphans, a motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. Thirteen Districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them. Brother turned on brother until nothing remained. And then came the peace, hard fought, sorely won. A people rose up from the ashes, and a new era was born. But freedom has a cost. And the traitors were defeated. We swore as a nation we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed that each year the various Districts of Panem would offer up, in Tribute, one young man and woman to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage, and sacrifice. The lone victor, bathed in riches, would serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future.

Nice try, Snow. So there was a time when people were violent 75 years ago, and we need to keep up the blood sport because reasons? That's some twisted logic, that is.

HAYMITCH: He's a Career. You know what that is?

KATNISS: From District 1.

HAYMITCH: And 2. They train in a special academy until they're 18. Then they volunteer. By that point, they're pretty lethal.

They're more than lethal; they're kind of psychotic. This is the only event that matters in their entire lives and they're trained to attack without mercy. Everyone knows that the Games are about these little killbots butchering the kids from other Districts, even if they never say so in public. Panem glorifies the Careers and their brand of violence.

GALE: Listen to me. You're stronger than they are. You are. Get to a bow.

KATNISS: They may not have a bow.

GALE: They will if you show them how good you are. They just want a good show.
That's all they want. If they don't have a bow, then you make one, okay? You know how to hunt.

KATNISS: Animals.

GALE: It's no different, Katniss.

KATNISS: There's 24 of us, Gale. Only one comes out.

GALE: Yeah, and it's gonna be you.

Does Gale actually believe that killing people is no different from killing animals? We'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's just trying to buck up Katniss.

GALE: We could do it, you know. Take off, live in the woods. Well, we do anyway.

KATNISS: They'd catch us.

GALE: Well, maybe not.

KATNISS: Cut out our tongues... or worse. We wouldn't make it five miles.

Violence clearly isn't limited to the Games. The Capitol aims to destroy anyone who tries to oppose it.

PEETA: I just don't want them to change me.

KATNISS: How would they change you?

PEETA: I don't know. They'd turn me into something I'm not. I just don't want to be another piece in their game, you know?

KATNISS: You mean you won't kill anyone?

PEETA: No. I mean, I'm sure I would, just like anybody else when the time came, but I just keep wishing that I could think of a way to show them that they don't own me. If I'm gonna die, I want to still be me. Does that make any sense?

KATNISS: Yeah. I just can't afford to think like that. I have my sister.

Both of these crazy kids understand that something happens when you kill someone else: you lose something that you can never get back. Their problem is that the Capitol is making them do it, and they need to figure out how to hold onto themselves in the process. Ask any war veteran about this.

SNOW: Seneca, why do you think we have a winner?

SENECA: What do you mean?

SNOW: I mean, why do we have a winner? I mean, if we just wanted to intimidate the Districts, why not round up twenty-four of them at random and execute them all at once? Be a lot faster.

What's mot chilling about this exchange is the cold-blooded, emotionless way Snow says this. You just know he's thought a lot about the best ways to intimidate the Districts. We've got a sneaking suspicion that executions have been in his bag of tricks all along.

HAYMITCH: Don't kill her. You'll just create a martyr.

SENECA: Well, it seems we've already got one.

HAYMITCH: I hear these rumors out of District 11. This could get away from you.

Live by the sword, die by the sword. If you encourage violence, violence may end up visiting you, too. That's something Haymitch isn't afraid of reminding Crane, if it gets Haymitch what he wants.

CLOVE: Where's Lover Boy? Oh, I see. You were gonna help him, right? Well, that's sweet. You know, it's too bad that you couldn't help your little friend. That little girl, what was her name again? Rue?


CLOVE: Yeah, well, we killed her, and now we're gonna kill you.

Clove is nuts, in part because she views killing Katniss not as something that she needs to do to survive, but because she really seems to be enjoying it. The Careers have been well trained to enjoy violence.

KATNISS: Maybe Cato likes berries too.

Katniss is past the point of playing nice. Even our heroine needs to get violent in order to stay alive in this twisted scenario.

CATO: Go on. Shoot. Then we both go down and you'd win. Go on. I'm dead anyway. I always was, right? I didn't know that till now. How is that? Is that what they want? Huh? I could still do this. One more kill. Bring pride to my District. Not that it matters.

Too late, Cato realizes the truth: having been brought up solely to kill everyone in the Games, he literally has nothing else to fight for outside of the arena. He's been a victim of the Capitol as much as the people he's killed.

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