The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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Suzanne Collins is an American writer and television author who was born on August 10, 1962, in Hartford, Connecticut. She is well-known for her contributions to the New York Times best-selling series The Underland Chronicles and The Hunger Games Trilogy (which consisted of Catching Fire, Mockingjay, and Hunger Games). She also wrote Fire Proof: Shelby Woo # 11, which was published in 1999, When Charlie McButton Lost Power, which was published in 2005, and Year of the Jungle, which was published in 2013. The majority of Collins' reviews and books are geared toward promoting feminism (Littman 193-208). Therefore, this paper will analyze how Suzanne Collins has redefined female protagonist, the importance of her work in the contemporary era and why she is considered a major writer.

How Suzanne Collins Redefined Female Protagonist

Classical philosophy and history have depicted women as subordinate to men and equal to children in the society. Most ancient civilizations believed that females could not rule or hold any senior position within the community. Dietz points out that classical philosophers like Aristotle even argued that women were not suitable to carry out muslin duties and were only suitable for the kitchen (19-37). This statement shows how low the feminine sexuality was regarded in the classical society. Despite being considered as subjects, women have been seen as deceitful and fickle. History accounts for deceit in women, through the example of Cleopatra and queen Sheba, while the Bible accounts for Eve who deceived Adam and Delilah who deceived Samson. Most classical works portrays females as weak, fickle and destructors (Clemente 20-29). However, Suzanne Collins, bring out another new version of women which somehow the society is not used to. Her literature redefines female protagonist in the following aspects.

The Role of women in the Society

Pharr, Mary, and Leisa posit that in The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins uses Katniss, a female character, as her main character in the story. Katniss is a woman who hunts, trades in the market, protects and provides for her family. The fact that Collins writes this book in the classical era where women were considered subjects but instead decides to paint her main personality with ‘male’ behaviors is already a revolution against a male dominated society. The Hunger Games insists on the concept of gender equality (Henthorne). Men are portrayed as those who own power and the skills associated with power. These skills are prowess in hunting, strength, and athleticism. Collins herself deliberately painted a female heroine whose skills are conventionally masculine; this description reinforces the notion of women empowerment (Pharr et al.).

Critics have pointed the fact that Collins paints a woman to have masculine skills as a weakness. Weakness in the sense that, if Collins wanted to empower women why could she just come up with a female character with feminine traits and make this female character a leader of men? Some women lived in male dominated societies but still used their feminine characters to lead within the male dominated society (Peterfreund 127-147). Florence Nightingale and Mother Teresa among others are those who inspire women up to today yet they never displayed any masculine traits such as fighting, strength or athleticism. Collins could have presented Katniss in such an encouraging manner and not clothing a woman in a man's clothes and attributing that to gender empowerment (Hughes 156-162).

Role of a woman in a family

According to Henthorne after, the father of Katniss Everdeen dies, she steps up to look for her family both her sisters and brothers. Collins sets up the story such that Panem (the dwelling town of Katniss) seems rather anarchic and survival is for the fittest. These environment natures Katniss to have the masculine qualities that she is portrayed to have later in the book. The fundamental point to note is that, in the absence of a masculine personality, a woman can lead and carry out the duties of men. Clemente (20-29) adds that the fact that Katniss took charge of her father duties (taking care of her mother and siblings by hunting and gathering; a skill she learnt from her farther) shows that ladies in the society can be in charge of the male dominated tasks/ professions or carriers if given a chance. Therefore, the only factor that prevents women from leading is the opportunity to do so.

The overlying question is that who is supposed to give women the chance to lead? Are men expected to hand over these possibilities to women or should women struggle to get them? Katniss character and lifestyle shows that women would never be handed leadership opportunities but instead they should fight for it and be ready to take a lot of sacrifices. If men were to give up leadership opportunities to women, then it should start right from the family. Then this means that empowerment should start right from the basic structures like the family (Dunn, George, and Nicholas 67-73). Suzanne Collins symbolizes the struggles Katniss goes through, to the situations women experience to in the modern day to get their fair piece of equality that they deserve. Gender based oppression is not the only issue in Panem that Collins uses a woman to solve. The writer also uses a woman to represent the poor/ the lower classes in the society. The struggles the poor undergo to survive and feed the loved ones. Katniss overcome these obstacles and emerges victorious. After making it to influential levels, Katniss uses this position to fight for the weak in the the world and defends the weak and poor (Hughes 156-162). Collins uses the Transition of Katniss from a small village girl to a heroine who defends people to assert the notion that "empowering a woman means empowering the whole society" (Kirby 460).

It is very clear that The Hunger Games has a significant impact on the community especially to the Youths and women in the contemporary era. Katniss displays a strong female character that inspires many women to be independent and be ready to take action against any inequality in the world. Katniss continuously criticizes the social order in a region she lives in and inspires many readers to examine their society and act accordingly to the injustices they find around (Peterfreund 127-147).

Why Suzanne Collins is considered to be a major writer

Collins is considered as one of the best US-based authors due to her stunning works that deal with real social problems. Most of her books and messages are meant for young audience who are ready to learn more about societal issues and injustices. She adopts simple writing with short sentences which are precise and straight to the point. Critics have argued that most of her content are on adult content written to suit young readers and instead Suzanne could have just written an adult book. This has worked to the advantage of Collins as most of her readers praised her content for introducing adult themes to the young readers, who should otherwise be prepared to face their adult life. For instance, The Hunger Games that talk about politics, gender equality, governance among other fundamental issues is meant to prepare the young readers to the future challenges they would be exposed to in adulthood.

Conclusion

Feminism all over the word started long time ago, the earliest document that had feminist policies was the Magna Carter (The great charter) in 1412 which is still relevant up to date. The feminist movement can be distinguished into three categories, mainly; the first wave, second wave and lastly, the third wave. First wave feminism aimed at gaining equal legal rights with men. For instance, in the Magna Carter women are allowed to inherit property just like men. In the French Declaration of Rights of Citizens and Man, the government grants women the exclusive rights to vote. The Second Wave of feminism aimed at making the lives of women comfortable by promoting female rights only such as the objectification of the female body, and abortion among others. The third wave is inclusive to all women despite their religion and ethnic background. It emphasizes on the flexibility of a woman’s sexuality and her freedom to display or curtail it. Suzanne Collins portrayed Katniss as a woman struggling to be like men and holds various masculine characteristics, meaning, that Katniss can be categorized under the first wave feminist. She has the motherly love to nature and care give while at the same very lethal when hunting and fighting just like men. After the analysis of Suzanne Collins work, Katniss can be seen as an embodiment of hope to the third wave feminists in the flexibility of sexuality and support of gender empowerment. This book also acts as an overview to the political life for the younger audience. The fact that Collins adds humor, romance and adventure to the mix, this dystopian story becomes less frightening, therefore, passing the real message to the young readers.

Works Cited

Clemente, Bill. “Panem in America: Crisis Economics and a Call for Political Engagement.” Of Bread, Blood and the Hunger Games. Eds. Pharr, Mary F., and Leisa A. Clark. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012, pp. 20-29.

Dietz, Mary G. "I. Citizenship with a feminist face: The problem with maternal thinking." Political Theory 13.1 (1985): 19-37.

Dunn, George A. and Nicholas Michaud, Eds. The Hunger Games and Philosophy: A Critique of Pure Treason. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2012, pp. 67-73

Henthorne, Tom. Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy: A Literary and Cultural Analysis. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012.

Hughes, Monica. “The Struggle between Utopia and Dystopia in Writings for Children and Young Adults.” Eds. Hintz, Carrie, and Elaine Ostry. Utopian and Dystopian Writing for Children and Young Adults. New York: Routledge, 2003. 156- 162. Print. Hunger Games. Dir. Gary Ross. Lionsgate, 2012. Film.

Littman, Sarah Darer. “The Politics of Mockingjay.” Ed. Wilson, Leah. The Girl Who Was on Fire. Dallas: Smart Pop, 2010, pp. 193-208.

Kirby, Philip. "The girl on fire: The Hunger Games, feminist geopolitics and the contemporary female action hero." Geopolitics 20.2 (2015): 460-478.

Peterfreund, Diana. “Hunger Game Theory.” Ed. Wilson, Leah. The Girl Who Was on Fire. Dallas: Smart Pop, 2010, pp. 127-142.

Pharr, Mary F., and Leisa A. Clark. eds. Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games: Critical Essays on the Suzanne Collins Trilogy. North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012.

December 15, 2022
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