The Hunger Games By Suzanne Collins


About the Author

The daughter of an air force officer, now forty-seven and married with her husband and two beautiful children in Connecticut, Suzanne Collins may seem like just an average woman. However, upon turning the pages of just one of her unexplainable, exceptional novels, it is clear that she is undeniably unique. Collins worked hard to achieve an M.F.A for dramatic writing at New York University. Since the time of graduation to the lift of her writing career for children’s television, her accomplishments include working for various Nickelodeon shows, which include Clarissa Explains it All and The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo. Also partaking in a huge role of the production of Emmy-nominated Little Bear and Oswald, which have a strong positive influence on preschoolers, Collins co-wrote the Christmas special Santa, Baby. She then received an award from the Writers Guild of America. Furthermore, her most recent position is as the head writer for Scholastic Entertainment's Clifford's Puppy Days. Inspired by James Proimos while working on the Kids' WB show Generation O!, Collins was then determined to write her own children’s books which include Gregor the Overlander, the first book of the New York Times top selling series The Underland Chronicles. The motivational thought process behind this series included the questioning of Lewis Carroll's Alice and Wonderland and how a young woman could fall into a manhole, a rabbit hole, and then find something besides a tea party. Her baffling ponders turned into a series of novels created between 2003 and 2007 including Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander, Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, and Gregor and the Code of Claw. Continued inspiration turned into another success when, in 2005, she wrote a rhyming book illustrated by Mike Lester known as When Charlie McButton Lost Power. Her most recent 2008 Scholastic Press series has been the peculiar novel known as The Hunger Games. Inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, Collins incorporated her father’s air force background, with which she was familiar. Concepts including poverty, starvation, and death helped to give the novel a realistic point of view. Following was the novel's sequel, Catching Fire, published in September 2009. On August 24, the third and last book, Mockingjay, was released. Not only are Collins achievements but also her work portrays a feel of futuristic realism. In just 14 months, 1.5 million copies of the first two Hunger Games books have been printed in North America alone. For 60 weeks, The Hunger Games has been on the New York Times Best Seller list. More or less, it is easy to identify as Collins has been named in Time Magazine as one of the most influential authors.

Summary:

The Hunger Games, a futuristic tale of the oppressed and the oppressive, is set in what was formerly known as North America. The country is now known as Panem, consisting of a lavishly rich capitol and twelve surrounding “laborer” districts. Our story begins in District 12, the poorest of all, where families scrape what meager sustenance they can afford by toiling away in government coal mines. District 12 is also home to our central protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, who has just volunteered to take the place of her younger sister in the 74th annual Hunger Games. The games serve as a reminder to the 12 districts that the Capitol is in control, and were created as a punishment for a previous rebellion. The games involve the selection of one boy and one girl from each district, who are to fight to the death on live television. Katniss and District 12’s other tribute, Peeta Mellark, are shipped off to the capitol to prepare for the competition. The capitol, the pride and joy of Panem, as seen as an oppressivve regime and reminds us of the horrors that can be brought on from an all controlling government. The two go on to thrill the audience through their public interviews and both are able to secure high training exhibition numbers. During Peeta’s live interview, he confesses his undying love for Katniss and really pulls at the hearts of the nation’s citizens. The games begin, and 11 of the 24 tributes are killed on the first day of competition. Through teamwork, and a rule change that allows tributes of the same district to both be declared victors, Katniss and Peeta are able to survive the Hunger Games. By introducing power struggles and people fighting for what they believe in, this story serves as a powerful reminder that we can accomplish change if we are willing to make sacrifices.

The Hunger Games serves a powerful warning of what an oppressive government can do. The novel can be viewed through a couple of different spectrums, namely the “big brother” and “government control” ideas, similar to those of George Orwell's 1984 and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, respectively. However, another institution that the Hunger Games may attempt to shed light on is the role of athletics in our society. In our culture, we prepare our young athletes from a very young age, similar to the way wealthy districts do in the novel. Professional sports in our country represent one of the wealthiest, powerful, and beloved institutions. Along with ludicrously compensated athletes, it’s no stretch to compare the capitol of Panem with professional sports and our culture that craves violent sports. Eerily similar to the poor districts of Panem, in many of our impoverished areas youths see their only way out through success in sports. One other fascinating take on the story can be viewed by asking questions about the consequences of questioning societal structure and authority. When Peeta and Katniss openly defy authority in order to survive the hunger games, they receive subtle warnings about their new “political target” status. The novel brings attention to the perils individuals may face by standing up for their beliefs and what can happen when those who are vested in power are questioned.

Multimedia:

Suzanne Collins answers questions about her Hunger Games trilogy in an interview conducted by Scholastic:


In this video, the author goes into further detail about the classical inspirations for her novels:



For their "Jabberjays" podcast, fans at Mockingjay.net discuss various concerns about the upcoming film adaptation of The Hunger Games:

Jabberjays #15: The Games Begin 3/23/12


Recommendations for Teachers:

There are various ways The Hunger Games can be taught in the classroom. There are many themes in this book such as friendship, honor, and deceit. Though this book is engaging in many ways, there are tools a teacher could use to get their students actively involved in the characters and themes within this story.

Use of Journals: The use of student-written journals for this book would be a great activity to use in the classroom. Much of this novel is based on character development and what happens to each of the participants in the hunger games arena. In the arena, the participants are faced with death and not only death, but with killing. By having the students write a journal from the point of view of a participant in the arena they will be able to see through the character’s eyes. By writing a journal, or numerous journals, they could begin to record the feelings of one character and how that character changes and grows within the arena.

Create a hunger game: Another activity that would bring The Hunger Games to life in a classroom would be to have the students create their own hunger game scenario. They could do this in small groups and together come up with a hunger game. They could present these to the class and then have the other students either write or vocally describe how they would defeat the elements and what their strategy would be to stay alive. This could involve using ideas and activities similar to those from Lord of The Flies. That is, give students a list of 50 items, and tell them they are only allowed to pick the ten most essential items for their survival. The teacher could then have hypothetical events come up, forcing the students to use their supplies, trade them or perish. Think Hunger Games meets Oregon Trail.

What Would you Do?: Another activity that would be useful in the classroom would be a sort of game called What would you do? Students would each come up with a question on scenario related to some aspect of The Hunger Games and present this question to the class. The class, in return, would answer how they would respond if they were in that situation. From this activity the students would be faced with some of the tough choices the characters in the book were faced with, and the students also would be forced to decide how they would react in intense situations.

External Links:

5 Basic Survival Skills in the Wilderness
Lamb Stew and Dried Plums Recipe
Wilderness Survival: Edible Plants
National Outdoor Leadership School
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