The Hunger Games Theme of Power

The Hunger Games Theme of Power

The Hunger GamesThematic Topics

Topic vs. Theme

A topic is what is a story is about. It can often be summed up in a word or two.

A theme is an author’s message about a topic. It cannot be summed up in a word or two but must be expressed as a complete sentence to clearly convey the message.

Following are some thematic topics that appear in The Hunger Games. What do you think are Suzanne Collins’s messages about these thematic topics? How does she develop these ideas in her narrative?

Control andPower

  1. What makes the Capitol so powerful?
  2. Why does Katniss cover Rue’s body with flowers?
  3. Why is the romance between Katniss and Peeta so popular with audiences?

4.Why won’t the Gamemakers let Katniss and Peeta eat the berries?

5.Why does Katniss say that the post-games interview is the most dangerouspart of the Games?

Write out what you feel is Collins’s message about power and how it operates.

Differing Versions of Reality. What is actually “real”?

6.Do you watch any reality TV shows? Did The Hunger Games change the way you view American reality TV? Why or why not?

7.People in the Capitol enjoy the Games as entertaining television. Why?

8. Why is the fake romance between Peeta and Katniss so popular with the Hunger Games’ audiences?

9. Why is it so important that Katniss hide her emotions on camera?

10.Why don’t the Hunger Games end – even after Katniss and Peeta have been declared victors?

11.Which character puts on the biggest show for the camera? Can you always tell when characters are being themselves versus trying to get sponsors?

What is Collins’s message about the nature of reality television?

Changing Identities to suit Circumstances

12.How would you describe Katniss in three words before the Hunger Games? After the Games?

13.Why is Katniss called the “girl on fire”?

14.Why is Peeta so concerned with staying true to himself during the Games?

15.How have the Hunger Games changed Katniss by the end of the novel?

16.If you were picked as a tribute for the Hunger Games, would you try to create a new persona for the camera? What would your strategy be for getting sponsors?

What does Collins have to say about different roles we play or identities we put forward?

Social Classes

17.List some of the differences between the Capitol and District 12.

18.Katniss and Peeta come from different social classes within District 12. Do their social statuses influence the way that they view or approach the Hunger Games? How?

19.What is Katniss's favorite dish to eat in the Capitol? Why?

20.Why do the Career Tributes have such an advantage over everyone else?

21.How does wealth affect the way different districts view the Games?

What is Collins’s message about social classes? Is her message applicable to us in 2012/13?

Love and the Importance of Relationships

22.Does Katniss love Peeta? Why does she feel indebted to him?

23.Why does Katniss pull the berry trick? Why does she risk her life to get the medicine for Peeta? Does she do these things out of love (or friendship) for Peeta, or does she have some other motive?

24.What is the significance of the dandelion?

25.Do you think it was wrong for Katniss to play along with the romance plot?

26.How do you think Gale will react when Katniss returns to District 12?

27.Why doesn't Katniss get attached to people (aside from her little sister)? Does Katniss love her mother?

What does Collins have to say about the importance of love in our lives and the value of human relationships?

Differing Skillsets

28.Who is, in your opinion, the strongest tribute in the Hunger Games?

29.If you were in the Hunger Games, what would you consider your strongest fighting or survival skills? What sort of score would you earn from the judges?

30.Why was Foxface such a good competitor? Why did she die?

31.What is Peeta's special skill? If Katniss weren't in the Hunger Games, what kind of a chance would Peeta have of coming out alive?What strengths made Katniss the victor?

What is it that Collins us trying to tell us about various people’s strengths and skills? How is this relevant to our own lives?

Appearances vs. Reality

32.Why do you think the people from the Capitol are so superficial? Are they all shallow?

33.Why does the image of Katniss and Peeta on fire work so well? What message are Cinna and Portia trying to send the viewers of the Hunger Games?

34.If Cinna weren't such an awesome stylist, would that have hurt Katniss's chance of winning the Games? Why or why not? How much of a tribute's success is based on appearance versus skills?

35.After the Games, how does Cinna's strategy for Katniss's style change? Does his clever work on her appearance help her survive outside of the arena?

36.What is the significance of Katniss's braided hair?

Why do so many authors emphasize the different between appearances and reality? We will see this is a common theme in Shakespeare’s plays. How should we apply this message to our own lives?


37.What happened to District 13?

38.What is the significance of District 12's three finger salute?

39.What is an Avox? What does an Avox symbolize?

40.Why did Katniss and Peeta's double suicide attempt anger the president?

41.Is Katniss consciously trying to be a rebel? Would she make a good rebel leader?

42.Aside from Katniss, do we see any other characters rebelling or displaying hints of rebellion?

43.Why is it significant that Rue's district sends Katniss a gift? How is this action special? Is it an act of rebellion?

The Games as Competition

44.Think of a game. What, would you say, defines a game? What characteristics do they share? Are the Hunger Games really a game?

45.Is it better to lose or win the Hunger Games? What does a character gain from winning the Games and what does s/he lose?

46.Why won't Katniss allow herself to develop feelings for Peeta during the Games?

47.Why is it easy for Katniss to see some tributes as enemies or competitors? For example, what makes Katniss immediately label Cato and Foxface as competitors and Rue as an ally? How does Katniss see Peeta? What about Thresh?

48.Why don't the Hunger Games end for Katniss? Do they end for Peeta?

Why do you think Collins writes a book in which the audience is watching a televised life or death struggle as entertainment? Does she have a comment about the nature of entertainment or human nature (or both)?

The Noble Sacrifice

49.What sort of sacrifices do characters make for each other? How does this add meaning to their lives?

50.Why do the districts have to sacrifice tributes each year? What impact do the Games have on the people of the districts?

51.Would you have volunteered, like Katniss did? Why or why not?

52.Why don't you think anyone volunteered to take Peeta's place? He does have siblings, after all.

53.Why did Katniss and Peeta's suicide attempt work on the Gamemakers?

54.Why did Peeta brave punishment as a child in order to give Katniss some bread? Why is he willing to put himself in danger with the Career Tributes in order to defend Katniss during the Games?

55.Why does Katniss pull the berry trick? Why does she risk her life to get the medicine for Peeta? Does she do these things out of love (or friendship) for Peeta, or does she have some other motive?