old daughter, spread to me, my son, and finally my husband. We are all captivated by this trilogy because it engages us at so many levels. My daughter worships Katniss for her independence and self-sufficiency, while complaining about her inability to trust Peetah or to choose between Peetah and Gale. My son loves the action and the moral dilemma posed by the “kill or be killed” rules inherent in the hunger games. But my husband and I have been struck by the politics in these books; by the world order portrayed; by the ways in which power is used to control people; by the ways that symbols and symbolic actions are used to stand up to power.
In the book, the Capital,with all of its rich and over-indulgent inhabitants, use the resources from the surrounding districts, oblivious to the costs of their lifestyles for the inhabitants in the surrounding districts. The Capital ,with its insatiable desire to be entertained; uses the Hunger Games as the ultimate expression of a people disconnected from the humanity of those it uses. It is a metaphor for our world, and we, in North America, are the Capital; consuming resources wastefully; oblivious to the working conditions, the poverty, the hunger, the lack of human rights experienced by the people who provide us with gold and food and oil.
We walked into a pet box store the other night, and my husband groaned, “Oh my God, we ARE the Capital!! Look at this place; there is a whole aisle dedicated to cookies and biscuits for cats and dogs.” There are people around the world with no food, homes or freedom, while we buy beds, treats, collars, toys and spas for our pets. We all know this is true but it is an uncomfortable truth that we try not to think about because we don’t know what to do about it. But a book like The Hunger Games, that pushes the reality a little, forces us to look at it; to see the story through the eyes of one of them; one of the poor, one of the hungry, one of the disempowered. It is a powerful, painful, and humbling experience to read a good book that helps us see ourselves and our society in a truthful light.