30 Days of Hunger Games…Our own Capitol

So…when The Hunger Games was our Book of the Month in January, one of our regular contributors, Em, didn’t get chance to post her review before the end of the month and so now – as part of 30 Days of Hunger Games – her thoughts finally make it to the blog…

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Like many of you, I didn’t just read the Hunger Games trilogy, I devoured it! When I had to put the books down to do mundane things such as going to work or sleeping, I was left wondering what would happen next, how would it all turn out, who would Katniss choose and so on and so on.

Then, when the final page had been turned I was left with that satisfied but sad feeling I often have when I’ve finished a set of books that I love, knowing that there isn’t another one to look forward to….until I remember that the film is coming out shortly, so that should appease me for a while!

However, unexpectedly, I was also left with a new set of questions.

Not ‘what next’, and ‘how will it end’, but some rather broader questions, the most worrying of which was this;

In the Hunger Games world……who are we?

Of course, we all want to be Katniss, Gale, Peeta, Finnick (Oh – I loved Finnick!)….the heroes of the piece, the protagonists, the ones we have followed, cheered for, cried with, grieved for and celebrated with throughout the books. But the Hunger Games, like so many other modern books, whether intentionally or otherwise, poses much greater moral and social questions than we may realise at first glance.

As was no doubt the intention, I was repulsed and amused by the people of the Capitol – their selfish shallow attitudes, their materialistic focus, their utter indifference to the suffering of the people in the districts who fed, clothed, served and provided for them, so long as their needs were met. And yet, on closer reflection, how are we as a society so different? In the ‘developed’ world, we take a lot for granted – that there will be food on the shelves, petrol for our cars, products in our shops – we live in a world of plenty….and how much thought do we give to where these things come from? For many years we have exploited the workers of less developed countries and societies in order to keep up our supply of things we don’t need, and luxuries that most of them could never hope to have.

Obviously we as a society haven’t a Hunger Games to convict us as the repellent creatures we see in the novels – that kind of voyeuristic bloodlust is thankfully not tolerated in our society…at least to that extent! But how many of us see the warring, the starving, the struggling on the television, and turn a negligent eye to it….as long as we are ok, it seems very far removed.

Whilst we all want to aspire to and empathise with the heroes of the piece, how many of us felt any empathy for the people of the Capitol? Very few I would expect, and rightly so – their portrayal as weak, petty, frivolous beings doesn’t inspire empathy….but maybe, just maybe, it should inspire a little self- reflection, and the need to be a little more aware of what is going on outside the walls of our own ‘Capitol’.

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