At the end of the day, The Hunger Games is about, um, the Hunger Games, and the Hunger Games are all about survival. You'll have to fight off psychotic rivals, VR wildfires, poisonous insects, genetically engineered dogs, and other fun stuff that the Capitol dreams up to try to kill the contestants. With the deck stacked that high against you, how can you possibly come out alive? Unless you're a Career, professionally trained and insanely confident, you can't like your odds.
Even outside of the Games, there's a battle for survival going on. The Games are just an extreme version of the daily struggle in the poor Districts of Panem, where death by starvation or mine explosion is always a distinct possibility. And it's just not physical survival that's at stake. As Peeta suggests, he'd rather die on his feet than live on his knees. When the two of them finally make it out alive, it's their psychological and spiritual survival that's almost more thrilling than the fact that they're both still in one piece.
Meanwhile, even the last, strongest Career has been voted off the island by a pack of mutant dogmonsters. Even Jeff Probst couldn't think up a challenge like that.
Questions About Survival
How do political survival, social survival, and literal survival intertwine in the plot?
In what ways are Snow and Crane trying to survive?
How do the Careers' methods of survival differ from Katniss's?
How does Peeta adopt his particular skills to survive in the arena? How do they differ from Katniss's?
Chew on This
Survival here is literal life-or-death.
The film's really about psychological survival in the face of oppression.