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The Hunger Games
By: Suzanne Collins




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Author's Biography:

Since 1991, Suzanne Collins has been a writer for children’s television. She has worked for several Nickelodeon shows. She typically writes for a younger audience. "Thinking one day about Alice in Wonderland, she was struck by how pastoral the setting must seem to kids who, like her own, lived in urban surroundings. In New York City, you’re much more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole and, if you do, you’re not going to find a tea party. What you might find...? Well, that’s the story of Gregor the Overlander, the first book in her five-part fantasy/​war series, The Underland Chronicles." (Collins) She currently lives in Connecticut with her family.



Characters:

Katniss Everdeen: A young teenage girl who lives in District 12. She hunts to provide food for her family. She is a very responsible and strong young lady. She is a volunteer tribute for District 12. She took the place of her younger sister, Prim.

Peeta Mellark: Teenage boy who lives in District 12. The son of a baker, he is the male tribute chosen to be in the Hunger Games. He is shy on the outside, but once you get to know him he is very nice and sincere. He cares for Katniss, and secretly has a crush on her.

Gale Hawthorne: Gale is Katniss’s hunting partner and best friend. He and Katniss share a special bond. They are friends but they have known each other for so long it seems like they are more than that. He is very strong and good-looking.

Primrose Everdeen: Usually goes by the nickname, Prim. Prim is 12 years old and the younger sister of Katniss. She is very emotional and definitely more feminine. She is pretty different from Katniss in terms of strength and survival skills.

Haymitch Abernathy: He was once a District 12 tribute and winner of the Hunger Games. He is a lousy alcoholic and his job is to coach the future tributes. He is a middle-aged drunk, but surprisingly is very smart and knows what he’s talking about. When it comes down to business he knows what to do.

Cinna: He is Katniss’s stylist for the Hunger Games. He is brilliant with what he does and is able to make Katniss breath-takingly beautiful. He is also Katniss’s coach for public persona. He helps her really focus on the Games and what she needs to do to survive.


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Plot Overview:

Katniss is a teenager from Panem. She volunteers herself to be a tribute for the Hunger Games in order to save her little sister, Prim, from having to be in it. She soon realizes that the Games are a true test of endurance and survival. Only the smartest and fastest survive. Katniss soon realizes that the Hunger Games is a source of entertain for the world to see, and it is at the hands of all the deaths of each tribute. There can only be one winner, and it is literally a fight to the death. This is as real as reality tv gets. Katniss must fight to survive and also play lovers with her fellow tribute, Peeta. Together they work to beat the Capitol at their own game, or do they?



Book Reviews:

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up -In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like 'Survivor' and 'American Gladiator.' Book one of a planned trilogy.Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

From Booklist

*Starred Review* This is a grand-opening salvo in a new series by the author of the Underland Chronicles. Sixteen-year-old Katniss poaches food for her widowed mother and little sister from the forest outside the legal perimeter of District 12, the poorest of the dozen districts constituting Panem, the North American dystopic state that has replaced the U.S. in the not-too-distant future. Her hunting and tracking skills serve her well when she is then cast into the nation’s annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death where contestants must battle harsh terrain, artificially concocted weather conditions, and two teenaged contestants from each of Panem’s districts. District 12’s second “tribute” is Peeta, the baker’s son, who has been in love with Katniss since he was five. Each new plot twist ratchets up the tension, moving the story forward and keeping the reader on edge. Although Katniss may be skilled with a bow and arrow and adept at analyzing her opponents’ next moves, she has much to learn about personal sentiments, especially her own. Populated by three-dimensional characters, this is a superb tale of physical adventure, political suspense, and romance. Grades 9-12. --Francisca Goldsmith



Key Quotations:

"Finally, Gale is here and maybe there is nothing romantic between us, but when he opens his arms I don't hesitate to go into them. His body is familiar to me – the way it moves, the smell of wood smoke, even the sound of his heart beating I know from quiet moments on a hunt – but this is the first time I really feel it, lean and hard-muscled against my own." (pg. 38)

"Suddenly I am furious, that with my life on the line, they don't even have the decency to pay attention to me. That I'm being upstaged by a dead pig. My heart starts to pound, I can feel my face burning. Without thinking, I pull an arrow from my quiver and send it straight at the Gamemakers' table. I hear shouts of alarm as people stumble back. The arrow skewers the apple in the pig's mouth and pins it to the wall behind it. Everyone stares at me in disbelief." (pg. 101)

"Then something unexpected happens. At least, I don’t expect it because I don’t think of District 12 as a place that cares about me. But a shift has occurred since I stepped up to take Prim’s place, and now it seems I have become someone precious. At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me. It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals. I means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love." (pg. 24)

"I can’t help comparing what I have with Gale to what I’m pretending to have with Peeta. How I never question Gale’s motives while I do nothing but doubt the latter’s. It’s not a fair comparison really. Gale and I were thrown together by a mutual need to survive. Peeta and I know the other’s survival means our own death. How do you sidestep that?" (pg. 112)



Setting:

Story takes place in District 12 aka Panem. There are 13 districts that make up the "North Americas". Throughout the novel the setting shifts to the Capitol in District 1. Here in District 1 is where the Hunger Games takes place.




Historical Context:
The Hunger Games takes place in the future. More specifically looks like ancient Rome, but in the future. It has been taken over by the Capitol and is split up into 13 districts. In this point in time, society is all about media. The Capitol has eyes everywhere. The media is more of a surveillance for the Capitol, but even then there is always someone being recorded or filmed. Each district has a main import that they specialize in, but everything is controlled by the government. The annual Hunger Games is a very real, reality show.

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Themes:

Power - It is clear throughout the whole novel that the main source of power comes from the government of the Capitol. The Hunger Games was created to make clear to all the districts who is in charge and to keep the citizens from rebelling against the government. This is story shows how this type of government is very much disliked by many people.

Identity - In the beginning Katniss Everdeen was a hunter, a friend, a daughter. Her involvement in the Hunger Games caused her to slightly lose a sense of herself. She became a different person. She went from being a teenage girl to a survivor and fighter. She became more aware of her self image and had to constantly worry about how she looks for the viewers.


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Motifs:

Love - The word love takes on many meanings throughout the whole novel. It is subtly used for a majority of the book. The meaning of love is a bit different in this story. Katniss pretends to be in love with Peeta in order to gain sponsors, but when in truth she realizes that she loves Gale. She loves her family and friends, and during the Games, she must pretend to lvoe her crew, the government, the Games.

Image - There is a big contrast on the view of image in The Hunger Games. Katniss starts off as just an average teenage girl living a normal, or whats considered normal to her, life. Once she enters the world of the Games, she is immediately swept up into the makeovers and fashion statements. She soon realizes that the Games are all a show, a type of entertain for people to watch.



Symbols:

Bow and Arrow -The bow and arrow played a major role in this novel. Being a hunter, it is key to have a useful weapon to kill game. Katniss's weapon of choice is without a doubt the bow and arrow. It almost serves as a part of her, without it she feels helpless, but with it she finds strength and courage to survive the Games.

The Double Suicide - Near the end of the novel, Katniss and Peeta attempt to trick the Capitol and commit suicide in order for their to be no winner. They both agree to end their lives because that cannot bear to live knowing that the other died. This is the typical Romeo and Juliet story, but instead of actually dying they just faked it.



Study Questions:

1. How can you relate to Katniss? What situations occur in the novel that are similar to yours?

2. What draws the line between entertainment and violence?

3. What are the consequences of Katniss/Peeta playing "lovers"?

4. Does killing someone to survive make it okay? Justify your answer.

5. How does Katniss's view on the world differ from that of Cato?



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Book Recommendations:

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Works Cited:

Amazon. amazon.com. Amazon.com, Inc., n.d. Web. 23 May 2011. <http://www.amazon.com/‌s/‌ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_16?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the+hunger+games&sprefix=the+hunger+games>.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press, 2008. Print.
Google. Google. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2011. <http://www.google.com/‌imghp?hl=en&tab=ii>.


Additional Resources Links:

http://www.suzannecollinsbooks.com/

http://www.shmoop.com/hunger-games/