Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games and Hope

I read a comment on a blog today about The Hunger Games series that really made me think. Again, I realize that other people have their own opinions, but here's my reaction to one.

The comment basically was that the series was pretty hopeless, in that, there was a lack of hope-for the characters, for the nation, for their lives. She didn't go into this detail, I'm elaborating. But you get the idea. 

This struck me as so odd. I've read all the books, and the first isn't the bleakest if you haven't. It's going to get grittier and worse before it gets even a modicum of better. Know that, and if you can't handle it, that's ok. 

But no hope? Really? I felt like hope was a thematic element throughout the books. Here are a few examples:

1. Katniss was able to survive the actual death of her father in a mining accident and the emotional death of her mother as a result. She was a child and yet she was still able to stand tall, provide for her family, and be a support system for her sister when her mother was unavailable. This girl has little in the way of proper adult role models and has been betrayed by so many adults in her life-her government, her father (not intentionally, but still), her mother. And the rest of the people in the Seam can only do so much when they are all struggling just to survive. I think that she was able to keep going proves that she had hope. Her mother didn't have hope, she lost her will to live. There is a difference to me there.

2. Katniss volunteers herself in place of her sister and allows herself hope that she will win and come back to her. 

3. Katniss not only plays the game to win, but she shows signs of political rebellion that she's not even aware of. She doesn't really see what's driving her to make the decisions she makes, but I think it's hope. Hope for a better life, a better future. That doesn't seem so endlessly bleak to me.

4. Katniss continues to fight. There are plenty of obstacles planted in her way, but she doesn't back down and give up. She presses on and fights for something. Why would you fight if it's hopeless?

5. The ending. I won't tell you what it is but I will give you a few details. It's not happy. It doesn't end with sunshine and roses and whole people. Many people in this series live terrible lives, have terrible things happen to them and they just can't be whole. However, I don't think it ends leaving you with a feeling of hopelessness. It ends leaving you with a feeling of closure and hope for what's to come. Or at least, that's how I felt and how I thought Collins wanted me to feel.

The blog the comment came from was a really refreshing point of view, but I didn't agree with that one piece and wanted to put my opinion into words. 

I also wanted to cover a few other thoughts I had about the story after talking to people who watched the movie but hadn't read the book. I heard a few comments that it wouldn't really happen, it could but most likely wouldn't. I don't' agree with that at all. It could, very easily happen. It has happened. And, in all truthfulness, it's happening right now. There are governments around the world who are putting their people through so much more than we can ever imagine-maybe not reapings and arena games to punish them for rebelling, but other just as terrible things. And the rebels fighting to save these people, a lot of times they aren't doing anything better. They are still hurting those they are trying to help in an effort to make a difference. And that's still not ok. The basis of this story is fictional of course, but it's not out of the question just because it isn't happening here, it's happening in other places and has been for centuries.

I came across this quote today, and I'm so jealous I didn't word my sentiments so well. This blogger stated my exact feelings, and her thoughts were stirred after her son's comment at the dinner table.

"I've heard the Hunger Game haters say these books are vile and send a horrible message to young people.  They are uncomfortable with the society Collins depicts.  'It won't be long and this world could be as evil and inhumane as the world in the Hunger Games,' they argue.  To this I say, as long as innocent children are kidnapped and enslaved to make our chocolate and eight year olds are killing other eight year olds so that we can wear shiny rocks on our fingers, we are already living in the world of the Hunger Games.  Welcome to Panem."

We will all have our own interpretation on the books and ideals within of course, but felt that hope was a main character and that these books could be non-fiction. Not in the future, but now. 

If you haven't read them, read them and form your own opinion! 

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