Friday, December 2, 2011

2. The Hunger Games Analysis

Summary: Prim goes to take her place as the female tribute when Katniss steps forward and volunteers to take her place. To volunteer in District 12 is extremely rare, and Katniss earns the respect of the people. Effie pulls out the boy tribute, Peeta Mellark. Although Katniss has never spoken to him, she already feels a connection to him. After her father died when she was eleven, her mother was useless in providing for the family. Although Katniss tried her best, their family was starving. In a last-ditch effort, she looked through the trash of the merchants, only to be chased off by the baker's wife. She saw a boy in the bakery, one in her own class at school but she'd never spoken to. She walked a few more feet only to sink down and hope to die. Then she heard a commotion and the boy came out with two burnt loaves of bread. His mother had hit him for burning them and yelled at him. While he should have fed them to their pigs, he threw them to Katniss instead. She took them and her family didn't starve. After that, she had the will to live, because of the boy whose name she learned was Peeta Mellark, and who she is now entering The Hunger Games with.

Description: I have to point out the description at the beginning of the chapter, which I love. Katniss tells of how she once fell out of a tree and the impact made it difficult to breathe, and that's how she felt hearing Prim's name called. It's a powerful way to describe how she felt there. In a situation so emotional, Collins takes the time to described the emotional through the physical but not in a stereotypical way, or in a short "I feel the wind being knocked out of me." It's a concrete description that Katniss can relate to as she's experienced before, and we can as well, making us feel it, too.

Characters:

  • Katniss: This chapter is crucial in developing Katniss's character. Not only do we see that she's brave and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for those she loves, but we see her weakness as well, and that is her lack of showing any emotion and determination to not be seen as vulnerable. She doesn't care if people like her or she has friends, but she won't be viewed as weak. This makes sense when we see that she's seen what her mother did, and how they all almost died because of her weakness. We also see how some people, kind people, can wriggle their way into her and her sense of obligation to not have anyone she's in debt to.
  • Haymitch: Yeah, he's drunk (what's new?) but in his contact with Katniss we can see past his gross state. By calling out the Capitol, establishes his true feelings that we see later on in the books.
  • Peeta: It's made very clear here that he's a very kind person, and that is amplified when we see how he was abused as a child. This part of his life not only gains our sympathy, but also our admiration for showing kindness when he wasn't. He gave Katniss the bread although he no doubt knew what it would cost him, and didn't ask for anything in return or do it for show.
Tension: Have Katniss go into the Hunger Games? Why not throw in an opponent that not only is kind, but that she has a history with? Collins makes the situation harder for Katniss and the reader, which increases the tension. It might be hard to go up against a brute, but going up against someone good-hearted is even worse.

What we can learn in a nutshell: Use descriptions that the character and the audience can relate to. Dive into a character's past to explain why they are the way they are and make it relevant. And in any given situation think, how can this be worse? Not in a "I'll sic two dogs on them instead of one!" but a way that is more emotionally and psychologically draining on the character.

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