Suzanne Collins integrated various themes to create an exciting and unforgettable story of “The Hunger Games”. These themes come together, giving the book different characteristics and enables entertainment to a wide range of audience. Four themes that considerably influence the story and its characters are strength, power, love and control. Strength displays the qualities and characteristics of a character, allowing us to learn more about them and how they develop throughout the book.
Power, such as the one the Capitols possess, is what helps to keep the districts in place while the theme of love is what influences many actions and decisions in the book and lastly, control is what brought the twisted action to life. The theme of strength is quite an important theme in The Hunger Games, for it defines the characters of who they are. Strength is much more than just muscle and a person’s build but refers to the power of their inner self. A character’s strength can also determine other qualities such as loyalty, honesty, resilience, patience or kindness.
Strength is an immense factor to making Katniss the strong, ruthless girl she is. Strength is not only shown by Katniss at certain points in the novel, but is present within everything she does and says. The most evident example of Katniss’s mental strength is when she is able to keep a neutral face whilst reporters are swarming over her as she is being taken from the Justice Building to the train station. Her ability to wipe her face clean of feelings, especially at such an emotional time, displays her inner strength in adversity, formed over years of hard experiences. I’ve had a lot of practice… that I almost appear bored. (Pg49)” Because her mother became mentally unstable at the loss of her father, Katniss felt as though her mother had also ‘abandoned’ her and her younger sister, Prim. Being the eldest daughter, Katniss had to take over as head of family. In her new role, it was crucial for her to appear strong and tough in front of her sister now that their mother had given up. She was able to provide a good role model for her sister and her strength had allowed her to accept reality and do what she believed was right.
Power is important in keeping the order of events in the story. Because the Capitol owns most of the country’s wealth, they are then able to control the districts. An example of this power is in the creation of the Hunger Games, a game designed to warn the districts against rebelling, a game they have planned out strategically. By broadcasting innocent deaths, the Capitol is able to deliver across the message that they are so powerful they can take away lives merely for their own entertainment. In fear of being relentlessly killed, the residents of Panem are then in necessity to abide to everything the government says.
One rule of the game is that you must fight tributes from other districts no matter who they are. Because of this the districts view each other as foes rather than friends. Communication between the districts is also kept to the minimum, limiting them knowledge about what is going on in the world beyond theirs. “I’d have thought, in District Eleven, you’d have a bit more to eat than us. (Pg245)”. This is how the Capitols take control of the districts, preventing them from joining forces and overthrowing the government.
When Katniss and Peeta joined the game for the first time, they overturned the rules, tricking the Capitols and escapes death. This was the first act of rebellion and the Capitols are suddenly at the loss of power. Fearing that the pair might have caused more uprising act of rebellion, the Capitols are on their way to get revenge. This shows that without power the Capitols would be nothing and the games would not have operated as it is. Two crucial themes in the Hunger Games are love and control. Together, they conspired to create the whole predicament.
The two themes clashed to form the main plot in the story. Control is what allowed the Capitol to create the games whilst love is what stimulated Katniss to throw herself into the games for her sister. The capitol’s control of the districts is what permitted the whole abomination and eventually lead to the government’s neglect of Panem. The overpowering government ignorantly pushed the districts to work and produce everything the Capitol needs. They gave the districts no freedom and forced them to live bad lives.
The Capitol’s control keeps the districts in place and is what allows dictatorship over the country. The districts are pressured to submit tributes into the games and, similar to the theme of power, the Capitol is abusing their control over the districts to force them to kill each other for the Capitol’s amusement. “Look how we you’re your children… we are at their mercy. (Pg 22)” If the Capitol’s regime wasn’t so brutal and cruel then the games would never have worked because clearly the districts would not have agreed to any of their rules.
Love is needed in this novel to balance out all the torture and cruelty of the games. The first true act of love we discover is Katniss’ love for her sister. When Prim’s name was called out at the reaping, Katniss courageously stepped up to take her place. This move had earned her respect and love from many viewers allowing her to gain sponsors and become very popular. Another reason that made Katniss’ character in the games so loved was her relationship with Peeta. Before the games, Katniss was never really attached to anyone other than Gale and her family. As Haymitch says, Katniss is too hostile.
Because of this, it is exciting for reader to see how she will play out the relationship between her and Peeta as a sweet and sensitive girl. To her it was all pretend, but Peeta’s feelings were true and he even risked his life in the games to save her. Everything he did was for her, whereas everything she did for him was purely because she felt as though she owed it to him and for their ‘romantic’ image. It’s uplifting to have frequent glimpse of romance between the brutality of the games and without the theme of love, the story would be nothing but violence with murder after murder and no real story behind the main plot.
Overall, the themes of strength, power, control and love all impact on who the characters are and how the plot worked out. Strength was expressed by many characters and displayed to us their traits, creating individuality. The corresponding themes of power and control were essential, since the Capitol’s authority is what allowed the Hunger Games to work out so flawlessly and lastly love was there to provide a backdrop for the story and also ease bitterness. These themes all played important roles in developing the story to create the horrifying world of the Hunger Games.