In class we are focusing on three major themes, although many of the themes are interchangeable: POWER, OPPRESSION, AND APPEARANCE VERSUS REALITY.

This article written by Lisa Galek and found on this website encapsulates all three themes and explains the reasons for a dystopian society in detail.

Suzanne Collins has said that her inspiration for The Hunger Games came while she was watching television. As she browsed through the channels, going past news coverage of the Iraq War and reality TV shows, the two began to blur together. She imagined a future where war and death would serve as the new reality television and The Hunger Games was born.

She took inspiration from Greek mythology and from ancient Rome. The name of the nation of Panem is a nod to the ancient Latin phrase “panem et circenses” or “bread and games.” The phrase referenced the practice in the latter part of the Roman empire of keeping the populace appeased by dispensing cheap food and entertainment, namely watching gladiators and criminals fight to the death in the arena.

This is the main focus of the books and movie. In a distant, dystopian future in the nation of Panem, the citizens in the wealthy Capitol hold an annual competition called the Hunger Games. The televised games are supplied with victims or “tributes,” through a lottery in each of the twelve impoverished districts surrounding the Capitol. Each year, at a ”reaping” ceremony, the names of one boy and one girl, aged 12-18 are drawn at random. Those selected are then whisked away to the Capitol to be wined and dined, receive lavish makeovers, and appear on talk shows, only to be delivered weeks later into an arena where they will fight the other tributes to the death until only one victor remains.

The games were instituted 74 years before the movie begins as a punishment for a rebellion against the Capitol by the districts. The reaping ceremony opens with a propaganda video, which explains why, in the Capitol’s view, the Hunger Games are actually a sign of the government’s goodness and mercy:

War, terrible war. Widows. Orphans. A motherless child. This was the uprising that rocked our land. Thirteen districts rebelled against the country that fed, loved, and protected them. Brother turned on brother, until nothing remained. And then came the peace. Hard fought, sorely won. People rose up from the ashes. A new era was born. But freedom has a cost. When the traitor was defeated, we swore as a nation we would never know this treason again. And so it was decreed that each year the various districts of Panem would offer up in tribute one young man and woman to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage, and sacrifice. The lone victor bathed in riches would serve as a reminder of our generosity and forgiveness.

In the movie itself, as in ancient Rome, the games serve as a reminder of the government’s absolute power. The Capitol citizens are the 1% who, themselves excused from participating in the games, delight in watching the children of the poor murder each other on live television. They are wealthy, vain, and, largely unconcerned with the plight of those in the poverty-stricken districts.

It was under similar conditions that Jesus was born and died. In Matthew chapter 2, the Magi visit the powerful King Herod and announce that the King of the Jews has been born. But, “when King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” Herod and his court knew that the status quo was about to be disturbed. Power would be changing hands and they would likely be on the losing end of the deal. Like the citizens of the Capitol, Herod quickly realized the best course of action was to execute children, so he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and under.

Public crucifixions in first-century Palestine also served the same purpose as the televising of the Hunger Games. They were a visible reminder of the authority of the government. After all, if the Romans simply wanted to execute convicted criminals, there would have been quicker and easier ways to achieve this. These punishments, however, were about tormenting and shaming the victims and sending a terrifying message to the populace about the penalties for disobedience to Rome.

And just like the Romans, the Capitol also held elaborate and costly games to demonstrate their majesty and wealth. For the early Christians and others who were executed in the arena, this would have meant being publicly tortured, thrown to wild beasts, flogged, burned with hot oil, and even raped, before eventually succumbing to death. For the contestants in the Hunger Games, this means being hunted and murdered by your fellow tributes or else dispensed by the game makers who can unleash swarms of deadly bees, forest fires, or ravenous wild dogs.

Though Collins based her novel on ancient Rome, the parallels are just as easily drawn to today. In some of the poorest nations in the world, government officials live in wealth and grandeur, while the majority of citizens have no access to basic necessities such as food, clothing, schools, and clean drinking water. Brutal punishments are doled out for offenses against society and the ruling class. What better way to keep the masses down than to give them nothing with which to oppose you?

While the popularity of The Hunger Games is sure to get some people thinking about these issues, I also worry that part of what is drawing the audiences to the movie is the promise of the horrific games themselves. As I left the theater after seeing the movie on its opening weekend, I overheard a group of fellow movie-goers discussing the film: ”I thought it would be more about the games and fighting,” one man told his friends. “Yeah,” another agreed, “it was kind of slow at times.”

To imagine this story is about the violence and thrill of the games is to miss its point entirely. The movie does not invite us to become citizens of the Capitol, safely watching from our comfortable chairs as children die for our amusement. It begs us to be disgusted by the spectacle of the games and, like Katniss, to determine what is the best response to those who would go to any lengths to maintain power and wealth for themselves.


Areas that show the OPPRESSION Theme Click here for a word document showing some of the areas that show the theme of OPPRESSION in the film.

These are some of the areas of the film that highlight the theme of OPPRESSION. They show how cruelly and unjustly the people in the districts are treated in comparison to the people of the Capitol. You will probably need to add a bit more an analysis to some AND you will definitely need to say how each piece of evidence shows that they are oppressed by the inequality in the districts.

The ‘Treaty of Treason’, in the opening credits, outlinesthe oppression suffered in the Districts and why.


The Jump Cut, from the  interview of Seneca Crane and Caesar Flickerman, to District 12 emphasises the oppression of the districts: ‘What defines your personal signature?’ Followed by a scream suggests his personal signature is  making people scream for the pleasure of the Capitol.

jump cut


The montage sequence shown during Katniss’s journey to the meadows highlights the fact that the whole district live in the same abject poverty. The fast paced editing with a shaky hand-held camera reflects the urgency and insecurity of their lives where they live close to the edge of existence.

shot 6 long shot of Katniss with miners in background woman carrying buckets shot 1woman looking out of window shot 2

A slow, non-diegetic, woman’s melancholic voice is heard throughout the montage and start of the meadow scene, to emphasise our feelings of sympathy towards the people of District 12. It creates an atmosphere sad and melancholic atmosphere.


The Long-shot of Katniss going through the fence,  illustrates the lack of freedom the District people have, which is reinforced by the close-up of the boundary sign before.  The ‘District Boundary No Access Beyond This Point’ This suggests that it covers the entire perimeter of District 12.

Katniss going through the fence

This cuts to the arrival of Effie Trinkett in the district. A close-up camera shot of her feet tilts upwards to reveal Effie Trinkett to emphasise her whole outfit. She is wearing a ostentatious purple outfit accessorised with an umbrella, flower fascinator in her hair, light pink wig and flower necklace. She clashes with the bleak dreary outfits seen by all in District 12. Her white make-up with exaggerated lips make he seem like a caricature.   Her distaste for the district, shown through her haughty manner, and pursed lips , emphasises she is not used to living in such squalid conditions.




The intrusion of the Hover Craft that not only shatters their peace in the tranquil meadows, but hyperbolises the stark contrast between what the Capitol has and the District 12 people have not. The aerial shot that shows Katniss and Gale hiding amongst the trees shows their vulnerability and hints at the danger it brings.

 In the meadows Gale gives Katniss some bread. She exclaims excitedly ‘Oh my God is this real!’ which signifies how rare it is for them to have bread. A close-up shot reveals her sniffing the bread emphasises her pleasure at being given it. This reinforces the idea of their closeness as he gave it to Katniss and not his family.

sniffing the bread


The Hob, District 12’s illegal market is a good indicator of the goods the people of have access to. The exterior camera shot of a broken down wooden building is emphasised by the smoke coming out of hole in the roof. A long interior shot resembles an old fashioned factory that echoes of a past time. The camera shows various size to highlight the goods on sale, focusing on a medium shot of a fifties style radio; and a close-up of buttons. None of which would be of any interest to the Capitol people.

the hob

the radio

weathered old lady in the Hobthe buttons

Katniss giving Prim the Mockingjay pin


A slow, non-diegetic, music plays to emphasise our feelings of sympathy towards the people of District 12.

As Effie casts an eye over the preparations for The Reaping, the camera shows workers erecting a red flag which echoes the red flag of soviet union that symbolised communism. This further hints at the controlled society of Panem. This is followed by a close-up, low-angle shot, of the concrete words: ‘Hall of Justice’, that is ironic since justice is about fairness and there is nothing fair about their justice. The concrete reflects, not only the cold regime of Panem, but scenes of totalitarian rule in our own society: North Korea.

The Reaping: Aerial shot of children walking to emphasise their vulnerability. They look like innocent lambs going to slaughter. Or zombies, due to their old worn clothes and lack of food they look like the living dead.

What impression does this aerial shot convey?


The close-up shot of the black leather clad hand that demands Prim’s hand when she is waiting for her blood sample to be taken.  The cold words ‘Next’ reinforce the cold manner of the Peace-Keepers.

black leather clad hand shouting 'next!'

black leather clad hand jag

The line of children waiting to have blood taken resembles the line of Jews standing in queues to be processed by the Nazi soldiers.

line for innoculations

 The diegetic sound is of the Peace-Keeper’s radios, their walking feet and SILENCE. Usually when a crowd of teenagers walk in a large group there is lots of noise from them talking. Silence is significant as it represents the fact that they have no voice and that they are terrified at the prospects of what lies ahead.

The Propaganda video and what it stands for. They are showing a reality in it that doesn’t exist. Is it really peaceful now? Do the District people feel like they have won anything? Remember how the children etc looked whilst watching this…what were there faces like? How did Effie react to this? Analyse the utopian words from the film: ‘rose from the ashes’and compareit to the reality of the districts. They look like they are still made of ash. There looks like there has been little progress in the 75 years since the ‘war’.

scared boy in crowd during propaganda video

The contrast between Effie’s actions and mannerisms at the Reaping ceremony compared to the harrowed people of District 12 (more detail required) ‘I just love that!’ this highlights her lack of empathy with what the people are experiencing.

Effie I just love that! 2

A non-diegetic pulsating sound which resembles a bell tolling foreshadows their death. Bells are sounded at funerals or to signify someone has died.

A close-up shot of the metallic microphone not only foreshadows the metallic sleekness of the Capitol train, but emphasises Effie Trinkett’s heightened excitement, by the amplified thud as she taps it. Her words also highlight her lack of empathy with the district people showing her as symbolic of the Capitol’s indifference to their suffering .

‘Welcome, welcome, welcome. Happy Hunger Games, and…may the odds be forever in your favour’. The clash of the words, which are an oxymoron, parallel the clash of Effie with the people of District 12. The words ‘Happy’ and ‘Hunger’ having two opposing meanings – of being contented and suffering starvation – show Effie as a symbol of the indifference and blindness of the Capitol people to the real plight of the people of the districts.



 Areas that highlight the POWER theme in the film Click here for a word document.

These are some of the areas of the film that highlight the theme of POWER. President Snow has all the power in Panem until Katniss Everdeen comes along to challenge his authority. The district people are kept on the edge of starvation so that they only think about where their next meal is coming from, and not challenging the authority of the Capitol. Katniss and Gale are different as they have found a way to feed themselves and their families. And when Katniss is forced to take her sister’s place in the games, she becomes the catalyst for change.

The propaganda video clip is one of the ways in which President Snow brainwashes the Capitol people in to believing the District people believe it is an honour to participate in the games. ‘Thirteen districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them’. These words are used to deceive the Capitol people in to thinking that the people of the Districts are treated more humanely than they are. They do not feed and protect them. Katniss and her family’s near starvation until she began to hunt is proof of this. The flash back (when Peeta throws her burnt bread that was meant for the pigs) sequence of Katniss lying in the mud looking near death, shows how desperate the food situation is in the districts. (the bread scene in the meadows also reinforces that they have little food)

‘…The people rose up from the ashes and a new era was born…one young man and woman, to fight to the death in a pageant of honor, courage and sacrifice. The lone victor bathed in riches, would serve as a reminder of our generosity and our forgiveness. This is how we remember our past. This is how we safeguard our future’   Indeed this is how they ‘safeguard’ their ‘future’ The Capitol people cannot even imagine what the district people have to go through. The subjugation of the District people leaves them so weak and demoralised that they have no power to fight against the horrific nature of their daily existence.

President snow’s power of propaganda is highlighted when Effie Trinkett mouths along with Snow’s words and says at the end ‘I just love that!’ This also highlights how she believes every word he says. The only people that have risen ‘from the ashes’ are the people of the Capitol, as the way the district people are treated suggests they are still living in a district of ash.

The demoralisation of the districts makes them give up all attempts to bring about change. Evidence: Close Up shot of boundary sign: ‘District Boundary No Access Beyond This Point’ then the sign saying ‘electric fence’ emphasise that it  is not switched on as Katniss goes through it with ease. The sign is enough to keep the people of the districts confined within,  as they  have no will left to attempt to escape showing they are scared both of the consequences of their actions and that they have no hope of escaping their miserable lives.

No access beyond this point sign

High voltage sign


The conversation between Katniss and Gale in the Meadow, shows their defiance of the control of the Capitol.

A close-up of Gale reinforces that he genuinely believes he can make a difference to the Games: ‘If no-one watches then they don’t have a game. It’s as simple as that.’ Katniss laughs at his idea but it foreshadows her challenge to the power ratio of the Capitol. This shows that both are different to the others in District 12. They have hope and courage.


The Long-shot of Katniss going through the fence, highlights her bravery. Katniss makes a remark to Gale that if they got caught trying to escape the Capitol would:   ‘Cut out our tongues’. This shows the danger of not complying with the rules of the Capitol. The close-up shot of the sign saying ‘District Boundary No Access Beyond This Point’ highlights to the audience that no one is allowed to leave the district. Katniss’s courage at risking her life to feed her family by hunting in the meadows foreshadows her courage to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games. It also hints at her challenge to President Snow’s authority.

Katniss going through the fence

Katniss’s courage and inner strength, has won her Cinna as her designer.That was one of the bravest things I have ever seen. With your sister…I just think somebody that brave…shouldn’t be dressed up in some stupid costume, now should they?’ Cinna recognises the need for Katniss to make an ‘impression’ to make her more powerful in the games. He gives her the strength to keep her integrity in the games which gives her the strength to treat Rue in a humane manner and keep her integrity. He also encourages her to go with the ‘star crossed loves’ persona which eventually saves both her and Peeta’s lives. Her power builds because he gives her hope in so many ways. He understands what the mockinjay pin means to Katniss 

[just before Katniss is about to begin the game, Cinna helps her put it on her Hunger Games suit and shows her where he hid her mockingjay pin on her clothes] Cinna: I’m not allowed to bet, but if I could I’d bet on you. This is as very intimate scene where Cinna gives her a long hug before she goes into the Cornucopia. He then goes to get her jacket and a close-up shows him pulling back the lapel to reveal the mockingjay pin on hidden underneath. A two-shot close-up then shows Cinna making a sshhh sign with his finger, to indicate it is a secret – as she would not be allowed to take it with her. Both his faith in her and his recognition of the significance of the mockingjay pin, give her hope which gives her the power to challenge the authority of Panem.

The berry scene is where Katniss tests her power directly against the Capitol. She understands that the audience have become attached to them as ‘the star-crossed-lovers’ and will not want to see either of them die. The Game-Makers, or chief Game-maker Seneca Crane, has to make a very quick decision before he loses both of the two final tributes. He knows he has to have one winner to please the Capitol people, and also give ‘hope’ (according the President Snow) to the districts and so he does all he can to salvage the situation. Rather than lose both, he declares them both as winner.


It is clear that Katniss understands he will have to come to this decision by the words she says to Peeta ‘trust me’

Peeta Mellark:Go ahead. One of us should go home. One of has to die, they have to have their victor. Katniss Everdeen: No. [she throws her bow and arrow down and walks towards Peeta] Katniss Everdeen: They don’t. Why should they? [she takes out the nightlock berries she’d taken from Fox Face’s hand earlier] Peeta Mellark: No! Katniss Everdeen: Trust me. Trust me. [she gives Peeta half of the berries] Peeta Mellark: Together? Katniss Everdeen: Together. Peeta Mellark: Okay. One. Katniss Everdeen: Two. Peeta Mellark: Three. [just as they are about to eat the berries the voice of the announcer stops them] Voice of Announcer: Stop! Stop! Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the winners of the 74th annual Hunger Games. [on hearing this Katniss hugs Peeta]


Katniss stabbing the table with a knife shows her courage when she thinks Haymitch is treating them badly by not helping them enough,Katniss Everdeen: How do you find shelter? Haymitch Abernathy: Pass the jam?[Katniss ignores his request]Katniss Everdeen: How do you find shelter? Haymitch Abernathy: Give me a chance to wake up, sweetheart. This mentoring is very taxing stuff. [he pours alcohol into his coffee] Haymitch Abernathy: Can you pass the marmalade? [suddenly in anger, Katniss stabs a knife into the dining table]  Effie Trinket: That is mahogany! Haymitch Abernathy: Look at you, you just killed a place mat.

Before going in to the dining cart, where Haymitch, Peeta and Effie Trinkett are, Katniss was watching previous Games footage presented by Caesar Flickerman and his co-presenter Claudius Templesmith. She was sickened by the brutal nature of the Games and so having an apathetic, uninterested mentor angered her. By stabbing the table, she showed Haymitch that there was more to her than he had previously thought.

Rue’s death scene is one of the biggest challenges to the authority of Panem. This simple act reminds the audience, that they are human beings and not just there for brutal entertainment. It also becomes the catalyst for change as it reminds the people of District 11, where Rue comes from, that they are badly treated by the Capitol. District 11 is one of the poorer districts, right after District 12 in the nation of Panem.



The District 12 respect sign is used by its residents usually at a funeral or, when they have to say thanks, lost someone they love, or just to show that the person is loved and respected by them. The sign is made when you press your three middle fingers of your left hand to your lips and then hold them out to the person, or people, that you want to show respect to. To show The Capitol that she was “not just a pawn in their games”, Katniss decorated Rue’s body with flowers which the cameras would have to show when the body was collected. In the film, after Rue’s death Katniss showed the respect sign to the cameras, which the District 11 people responded to and it sparked a riot.

Rue becomes a substitute for Prim, which explains how she connects quickly with Katniss who wants to protect and look after her. We feel very sad when Rue dies, not only does it activate our sadness and make us as an audience empathise with the characters, it makes the people from the capitol and districts empathise as well. This gives them HOPE and that is dangerous! (well according to P. Snow)

Katniss is angry at Rue’s death and wants to show respect for the innocent young girl who has had her life snatched away from her in a horrific fashion. She does not want her to be just another victim and gives her a beautiful funeral. This connects with the song she sung to Prim to ease her nightmare: “A bed of grass. A soft green pillow…” She is giving Rue a “soft green pillow” to ease the nightmare that is the games. This connects with what Peeta said the night before they go into the arena:


Peeta Mellark: I don’t know. Turn me into something I’m not. I just don’t wanna be another piece in their game, you know? Katniss Everdeen: You mean you won’t kill anyone? Peeta Mellark: No. I’m sure I would, just like anybody else when the time came. But, you know, I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. You know, If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me. Does that make any sense?

Katniss wanted to show that Rue is not ‘another piece in their game’. She realises that she can make a difference by giving Rue respect in death. She challenges the power of the Capitol by making people see the reality of what is happening. They are human beings that deserve the respect of humans. The inhumanness of the Hunger Games is epitomised through her small reminder of their humanity, when she brings feelings back in to the games. She sparks the anger of the district not just by the respect sign that she shows them, but making them stop and feel the reality of the situation. She shows them that she cares and that is enough to become the catalyst for change.

anger and devastation medium long shotanger at her senseless murder

devastation at her death





You will have to use the film footage for your essay evidence. But watch this clip as it gives you a real impression of how Katniss HUMANISES the games. She upsets the balance and makes the people in the Districts (and the capitol) feel for the first time, and to realise, that they are not just a pawn in a game, but real humans being brutally murdered.

Think about the THEME OF POWER. Who controls the POWER and who upsets the balance? President Snow is concerned about Katniss becoming a danger as she is growing in power due to the various things that she does in the film. Watch this footage to get an idea of some. The most vivid are her lack of fear at the beginning (she is willing to risk her life by hunting for her family); her willingness to take the place of her sister Prim and volunteer as tribute; her annoyance at the gamemakers (and subsequent shooting the arrow in to the apple); her ability to fend for herself; her ability to show compassion for another despite her life being at risk; taking on the career tributes (by blowing up their food supply); her flaunting her feelings about Rue (and making a sign to the viewing public); her courage to risk her and Peeta’s life during the berry scene; her ability to construct a persona to fool the public (and President Snow – ah but is he really fooled?)

The people in the districts are treated in a cruel and unjust way. They are surrounded by electric fences and policed by peace-keepers with little food or nourishment to enhance their miserable existence. The contrast to how they are treated in comparison to the people of the Capitol is like fast-forwarding one hundred years. The districts look like they are set in the past during the era of the industrial revolution (see montage section for more information); whereas the Capitol is set a futuristic modern world.

The district people have to remain in complete poverty in order for a tiny percentage of the population to live in complete luxury. President Snow understands this but many of the Capitol people do not. They have become accustomed to treating  the district people as a worthless sub-species  which was necessary for the government to retain the balance of power. It is not that the people in the capitol are actively seeking to be cruel and unjust to the people of the districts, it is more the fact that they have been conditioned that this is just how it is.

Effie mouthing the words in prayer stance

The conditioning of the people of the Capitol is symbolised through the characters of Effie Trinkett and Caesar Flickerman. Effie here in a prayer like pose with her eyes shut, mouthing along to the words of President Snow during the Propaganda video at the Reaping. This shows she is both used to saying these words and believes in them – this is also accentuated at the end when in an excited fashion she says ‘ I just love that!

Caesar Flickerman getting excited below, whilst he and Claudious Templeman present a show playing re-runs of past Hunger Games footage. This highlights their belief that it is only a justified game that brings ‘honour and peace’ to the not only the Capitol, but to the districts. They have no idea what the district people suffer – it is incomprehensible to them. They have never experienced anything like it in their privileged lives and therefore cannot emphathise. Instead they find the horrific brutal murder of innocent children exciting and highly entertaining.


brutal killing




This is the 75th Hunger Games and so this has been going on for 75 years. They have treated the people of the districts not much better than maltreated caged animals in a circus, they too are expected to ‘perform tricks’ for the public. The arena is like the circus Big Top where they fight to their deaths whilst watched on adoringly by the general public – the only difference is, it is only the people of the Capitol who enjoy this harrowing scene of brutality; the people of the districts experience it differently, for them it is a punishment for daring to fight against  their containment.

They believe the propaganda they hear from the government of the Capitol and in particular President Snow THIS IS THE VIDEO AS SEEN IN THE FILM.


RUE’S DEATH SCENE If you need to refresh your memory and get some closer details watch this clip again.


In the Dystopian world of Panem, President Snow has all the power. He believes that keeping the districts oppressed through the Hunger Games will help him retain his control over society. He also recognises the delicate balance.

Katniss and Peeta continually thwart President Snow by defying the wishes of the games:

Adapted from Spark Notes

The film is full of acts of defiance against the Capitol despite the Capitol’s authoritarian control over the people of Panem. Katniss’s and Gale’s     illegal hunting is an act of defiance, since they’re willfully violating the Capitol’s rules. The same can be said for the existence of the Hob, the bustling black market of District 12. The gesture of respect the residents of District 12 offer Katniss after she volunteers as tribute is similarly a form of defiance in  that it contradicts the behaviour the Capitol wants, and expects, to see. The  mockingjay, represents defiance in that it  recalls the Capitol’s failures, and Peeta essentially hopes to defy the Capitol and Gamemakers when he tells Katniss he wants to retain his identity and show them he’s not just a part of their Games. The most significant acts of defiance come from Katniss, however. Decorating Rue’s body after her death directly violates the spirit of the Hunger Games, which demand that tributes show no mercy for one another, and Katniss’s idea for her and Peeta to threaten suicide with the berries shows that they will not accept the Gamemakers’ rules.

Her words to Peeta when they threaten to take the berries: “Trust me”,  prove that she is aware of the power she holds over the Game-maker. He has allowed the public to become so attached to the ‘star-crossed-lovers’ that he is afraid of the backlash that would occur if he let them die. The lack of time he has to make his decision and declare them both as winners is a factor in his poor decision. He has shown the value of the tributes, and through them the people of the districts, by allowing them to survive. Katniss has manipulated this result through her understanding of the position that Seneca is now in.

President Snow forces Seneca to execute himself as a result of his error. He must eat the poisonous nightlock berries as a punishment for allowing Katniss to force his hand.

Haymitch recognises the danger that Katniss is now in and how it is even more important now to keep up the facade of the Star-Crossed-Lovers.

[after returning to the Capitol, Haymitch warns Katniss]
Haymitch Abernathy: They’re not happy with you.
Katniss Everdeen: Why? Because I didn’t die?
Haymitch Abernathy: Because you showed them up.
Katniss Everdeen: Well, I’m sorry it didn’t go the way they planned. You know, I’m not very happy with them either.
Haymitch Abernathy: Katniss, this is serious. Not just for you. They don’t take these things lightly.

[Haymitch instructs Katniss as she and Peeta are to be interviewed by Flickerman]
Haymitch Abernathy: When they ask, you say you couldn’t help yourself. You…you are so in love with this boy that the thought of not being with him was unthinkable. You…you’d rather die than not be with him. You understand?

This is also part of the Appearance versus Reality theme as Katniss is forced to keep up the facade of her love for Peeta, or, face the wrath of President Snow.

There is a cliffhanger at the end of the film which shows President Snow watching their return to District 12. The close-up (CU) of his close scrutiny of them, is reinforced by his chewing of his thumb, which suggest he is either annoyed or nervous, and the look of contempt as he turns away. This suggests that he doesnt believe Katniss is really in love with Peeta. He has maybe noticed the unnatural smile that Katniss had whilst she was  holding hands with Peeta as the District 12 crowd cheered their return. The only time she appears natural is when she views her Prim and Gale, together, in the crowd.


The Capitol people present the district people’s suffering as mass entertainment and the more the tributes suffer, ideally in battle with one another, the more entertaining the Games become. main draw of the Games for viewers is its voyeurism, in this case watching the tributes, who are of course children, fighting and dying.  The Capitol people have been conditioned to live this way and have grown up with the Hunger Games. They do not see beyond the game-show concept until Katniss makes them see they are real people.

In both these ways the Hunger Games recall the gladiatorial Games of Ancient Rome (notably, the gladiatorial Games were one of the most popular forms of entertainment of their time), in  which armed competitors, some voluntarily and others not, would fight to the death. That the Games are televised and discussed incessantly in Panem’s media  also recalls today’s reality television.  This parallel  suggests that reality television, though perhaps not quite as barbarous as the  gladiatorial Games, still offers up real life as entertainment, and in doing so it turns real people into commodities. Their value becomes determined by how  much entertainment they provide, and as such they lose their identities as  people. Reality television is a form of objectification (that means they become like an object rather than a person, much like how the Capitol people are conditioned to think about the people from the districts).

Some of this information has been taken from this website

In the  Hunger Games, the tributes become like celebrity and  image is everything. Peeta already understands the power of the celebrity and how being popular will get him sponsors. He uses his love for Katniss to both of their advantages during an interview with Caesar Flickerman. Katniss is furious but Haymitch can see how it may be a way for them to win sponsors:

[as Peeta walks backstage from his interview with Flickerman, suddenly a very angry Katniss grabs hold of him and pushes him against the wall] Katniss Everdeen: What the hell was that? You don’t talk to me and then you say you have a crush on me? You say you wanna train alone? Is that how you wanna play? Huh?

[Haymitch pulls her from Peeta]

Haymitch Abernathy: Stop it! Stop it!

[to Peeta] Katniss Everdeen: Let’s start, right now!

Haymitch Abernathy: He did you a favour.

Katniss Everdeen: He made me look weak!

Haymitch Abernathy: He made you look desirable. Which in your case can’t hurt, sweetheart.

Cinna: He’s right, Katniss.

Haymitch Abernathy: Of course I’m right! Now I can sell the star crossed lovers from district 12.

Katniss Everdeen: We are not star crossed lovers!

Haymitch Abernathy: It’s a television show. And being in love with that boy might just get you sponsors, which could save your damn life. [turning to Peeta] Haymitch Abernathy: Okay. Why don’t you get out of here. Maybe I can deliver you both in one piece tomorrow.

[Peeta, looking upset, walks off]

Cinna is also aware of how he can help Katniss to create a persona to win her sponsors that will help her during her time in the arena (see Cinna in the characterisation section for further information on their first meeting). He creates the Girl On Fire; which is an accurate depiction of Katniss’s feisty, courageous and independent character. However, he sees how becoming a Star Crossed-Lover can further enhance her profile and give her an added edge on the other competitors. Cinna is the one person she trusts in the Capitol as he is the one genuine empathic person she meets. He too has created a persona. He genuinly understands the situation in the districts and realises the truth of the abject poverty they live in and inhumane way they are treated, however, he appears to comply with the sentiments of the Capitol by his gold eye-shadow, a token gesture to prevent people becoming suspicious about him. His real humanity and contrast to the other Capitol inhabitants is obvious from the moment he meets Katniss

Peeta appears to be in awe of the people on arrival at the Capitol, but he soon shows a strong awareness of how he appears and how his powers of persuasions can be used to manipulate the public. He also convinces Cato, Marvel, Glimmer and Clove (the career tributes) to believe that the Star Crossed Lovers is a fiction he used for sponsors and that he is out to beat Katniss. This is not hard to believe since they are all completely self-obsessed so would not understand that Peeta would rather die than let Katniss die. They believe he has joined forces with them because he too recognizes her power. They are using Peeta for this very fact as they believe Katniss to be their biggest obstacle to winning and see they all join forces to kill her.

The Star Crossed Lovers

Perhaps the most notable part of Katniss’s strategy involves her romance with Peeta. This romance is not entirely genuine on Katniss’s end. She cares  about Peeta and develops a romantic interest him, but her feelings don’t have nearly the same intensity as his and she always remains ambivalent about him. For the cameras, however, Katniss plays up her feelings for Peeta and works to  convince the viewers, and especially the Capitol, that she’s deeply in love with  him. The act is one Haymitch devised for strategic reasons: Katniss’s and Peeta’s love story elicits more gifts from sponsors than if they’re simply  friends, and it seems even to influence the Capitol’s decision to allow two tributes to be declared winners rather than the customary one. Consequently, the  act Katniss puts on has a significant effect on both her and Peeta’s survival.Through these events, the novel suggests that what cameras show, on reality  television for instance, is not necessarily reality, and that appearances are just as consequential as the truth.

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