The Hunger Games, Part One
(Caution: Potential Spoiler Alert!)
I read The Hunger Games in two days. How long did it take you?
I gave it a ten. (Ten is the best.)
But, minutes after I read it I called my book-group friend, and said, “I can’t see the movie. I’ll feel like President Snow is making me watch the violence. I won’t do it. I refuse! If I watch it then I’m no better than the leaders of Panem. They’re not going to FORCE me to cheer for kids to kill other kids.”
My friend said, “Ah…Michelle…the book is fiction. Panem doesn’t exist. It’s okay if you see the movie. It’s not real.”
Duh! I knew that but still… It disturbed me to think I’d enjoyed a violent book!
Was the author’s purpose for writing it to show how warped people can be about enjoying the sport of watching others suffer and die? After all, we love TV reality shows. And what about watching news about war? It’s like we hate to see it, but we can’t turn our eyes away from the screen.
And remember reading about Spartacus during the Roman Empire and how spectators watched gladiators fight to death in the ring with chariots? (Okay, maybe teens can’t remember that far back, but certainly you read about it in history class.) In the movie, Gladiator, men cheered and found sport in the the killing of fellow human beings. The movie sold. People watched it. I did, too.
Then I realized something about HG:
Suzanne Collins wrote such a compelling story that she not only made me care, she made me feel guilty for watching her characters fight ’til death.
So, on second thought, I decided I absolutely HAD to see the movie.
I went the first day! (Suzanne’s in-laws were in the audience, too. They’re from this area. Very cool!)
My intent for going: To dissect the movie, to understand what made me care.
And…to make sure my books contain the same elements that made hers successful.
WHAT ARE THE FOUR ELEMENTS THAT MAKE A BEST SELLER?
According to Susie May Warren, my mentor, every best seller has four characteristics that make it a success: heroism, sacrifice, redemption, and justice.
HG had them all. Let me get out my scalpel to dissect them:
What makes Katniss a heroine?
It’s the way she sings her sister a lullaby. The way she hunts in the forest to keep her family from starving. The way she thinks of others before herself. And the way she buries Rue and spears Cato to spare him from feeling the dogs maul him to death.
It’s who she is. And I love her!
How does Katniss make sacrifices?
When she volunteers to take Primrose’s place in the games she sacrifices her life for her sister’s. How can I not love her for saving a child’s life?
When she sacrifices her life by going to the Cornucopia for Peeta’s medicine.
Even in love she sacrifices. By feigning a love interest in Peeta, she gives up the possibility of losing Gale. She does it for her sister, mother, and her District.
And, in the very end, she’s willing to give up her life by eating poisonous berries so she doesn’t have to kill Peeta.
When is Katniss redeemed?
This was one of my favorite parts in the movie. When Katniss puts an arrow through the apple on the pig to get the leaders’ attention, I wanted to stand on my chair and shout, “Yes!” For this brief moment, she is redeemed. By her actions she’s able to gloat in a moment of glory. She made them notice her.
How does Katniss bring justice?
This is why I’ll read the next two books in the series.
Because Katniss has the qualities in the first three pillars, I want to see her overthrow the government. I want her to outwit them. And I’ll root for her until she brings justice to the Capitol of Panem.
I got a glimpse of what she’s capable of when she twists President Snow’s rules to benefit Peeta and herself by threatening to eat the berries. If both Katniss and Peeta die, there would be no winner and the government would lose. But because they both live it sends a message to President Snow–we will rule and you will lose at your own game.
This rattles President Snow and I loved that!
Look at your own novel or story. Does it have the four pillars of a best seller?
What other examples of heroism, sacrifice, redemption and justice can you find in HG? What about in Peeta?
Get your scalpel out and dissect. Show me the parts.