The Visibility and Invisibility of Class, Race, Gender, and Sexuality in The Hunger Games
In the world of The Hunger Games, as depicted in Suzanne Collins’s novels and their film adaptations, the citizens of the 12 districts of the country of Panem are controlled by their fear of the powerful central government, the Capitol.1 People living in the districts furthest from the Capitol, particularly Districts 10, 11, and 12, primarily live in poverty, while those living closer to the Capitol and, especially, those living in the Capitol have access to resources and advanced technology. The book and film series focus on Katniss Everdine (played by Jennifer Lawrence), a teenage girl from District 12, who enters the arena of the Hunger Games as a tribute and, ultimately, becomes a leader in a class-based revolution against the Capitol. The society portrayed in The Hunger Games is best described as dystopian, but also includes elements of a post-apocalyptic narrative. We conceptualize the districts’ uprising, subsequent war, and failed revolution, which included the partial annihilation of District 13,2 as the apocalyptic event that disrupted the very structure of the society and resulted in the negotiation of a new social contract. Because 74 years pass between the end of the war and the beginning of the story, the story focuses less on the apocalyptic events than on the dystopian aftermath. However, The Hunger Games draws on several key post-apocalyptic narrative elements, including the emphasis on the struggle for survival after a major traumatic event, scarcity of resources, and lack of technology and infrastructure, particularly in the Districts.
KeywordsRacial Inequality Class Inequality Future World Narrative Element Female Protagonist
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