Monday, January 16, 2012

7. The Hunger Games Analysis

Summary: Katniss and Peeta decide to be coached together for the Games. When Haymitch asks what their strengths are, each downplay their own and praise each other. Haymitch tells them to stick together during training, so they do. Katniss doesn't like their buddy-buddy act, but goes along with it. During training, Katniss sees the Careers who have been trained and bred to fight in these Games. She also sees Rue, who reminds her of Prim and has been following her around. After a few days of training, they're brought individually to the Gamemakers to be scored. Katniss is the last one, and the Gamemakers are tired of watching these showcases. Though Katniss does her best archery, they pay more attention to the roast pig coming in. In anger, Katniss shoots the apple in the pig's mouth and leaves.

Dialogue: The beginning exchange between Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch is excellent. First, there's a lot of emotion between the characters, especially Katniss and Peeta. This is brought out by Katniss describing how what Peeta says "rubs me the wrong way." Collins lets Katniss tell her the emotion she feels. But at the same time, for three-fourths of a page, there is mostly just back-and-forth between Katniss and Peeta, and this is how Collins brings the emotion and tension.

Tension: For the past few chapters, we and Katniss have been feeling good about her stake in the Games. But now we see the Careers, who will be a huge struggle for Katniss. Also, as we get to know Peeta more, the more tension it creates knowing they'll be thrown into the Games together. And if it wasn't enough to have Peeta, we're introduced to Rue as well. Now there are two people going into the arena that we don't want to die, but we don't want Katniss to die, either.


  • Katniss: We see her aggravated side here, her desire to keep people at a distance with Peeta and again with Rue. We also see her passionate, impulsive side when she shoots the arrow at the Gamemakers.
  • Rue: Katniss continues to compare Rue with Prim, and our established tenderness toward Prim goes out to Rue as well. At the same time, though, we see her with a slingshot and her ability to quietly follow Peeta and Katniss, which sets her apart from Prim as well and give her her own character.
  • Peeta: The interesting thing about Peeta is that in the beginning of this, I've met several people who read him in different ways. In this chapter, it confirmed to me that Peeta was crushing on Katniss. I've also talked with people who thought that he was out to kill Katniss, and others who thought that he just thought of Katniss as a friend. This is a highlighting chapter in these different perceptions of him, partly because we don't know him well yet. But looking back on this chapter knowing his intent, we see his pain (with his mother saying that Katniss will win), his genuine interest in Katniss doing her best in the Games (telling Haymitch her strengths), as well as his humor ("say the arena is actually a giant cake").
What we can learn in a nutshell: Dialogue is best when it's conveying emotion and accompanied by internal feeling of the MC. Never let the character think they're in the clear for long: remind the reader and the character there's still trouble. Give characters strength, and if you have two that are similar, still give them differences to make them unique.

Friday, January 6, 2012

6. The Hunger Games Analysis

I'm back! So now we're on schedule again.
Summary: After Katniss and Peeta made a sensation at the Opening Ceremonies, they have dinner to discuss strategy with Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, and Portia. Katniss recognizes one of the servants. The adults are alarmed by this and tell Katniss she can't know the servant, an Avox (someone whose tongue has been cut out), because the Avox is probably a traitor. Peeta covers for Katniss by saying that the Avox looks like a girl from District 12 they know. Katniss and Peeta leave while the adults talk, and Peeta gets the story of how Katniss recognized the girl out. Katniss and Gale had been hunting when a boy and girl ran for their lives and were caught by a hovercraft. Katniss and Gale might have helped them, but didn't.

Dialogue: When they're at the dinner table and Katniss brings up that she knows the Avox, the conversation is straight-forward. Haymitch says, Effie says, not much frills involved. This keeps the story moving, because the words are more important than the actions at this point. We've already been situated in the fact that they're having a meal together. Whereas when Katniss has a conversation with Peeta later on, the way the two of them are interacting is important. Collins is sure to describe that Peeta is "conversational" as he mentions Gale and that Katniss is "observing" him. All of these descriptions to add to the dialogue gives a clearer understanding of their relationship.

World-building: Collins continually builds up the structure of this society, and in this case it's the Avoxes. This detail adds to how grotesque and brutal the Capitol is, even to its own citizens. She fleshes out the layers of their world through these people, who are not the Effie's and the prep teams like we've seen before.

Relationships: I think that this bit with Katniss and Peeta is important to start their involvement with each other. Peeta covers for Katniss, and in turn she tells him something a bit more personal. She's careful about deciding whether or not to share with Peeta, but it opens a way for her to at least see him as someone she can talk to. It's small, but it's an important development in the relationship they have.

What to learn in a nutshell: Keep conversation moving when the setting and people are established. But be sure to describe the characters and actions when it builds their personalities, situations, relationships, etc. Always be on the look-out to give perspectives of the world from all people's lives in the world. When building a new relationship, start with something small to make what grows out of it organic.