Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Hunger Games

Collins, S. (2008). The hunger games. New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc. 

LS5360 Required Reading:  Borrowed this from my son's library, and loved this book!

Exposition: The setting is the future, a post-apocolyptic North America, in the totalitarian-governed country of Panem. The story begins in District 12, the Seam, where most are scraping by an existence. The government (the Capitol) keeps the people suppressed, in great part due to the annual Hunger Games.  Katniss Everdeen, the independent and rebellious sixteen-year-old protagonist, tells the story in first person point-of-view, and readers are soon introduced to the other main characters of the story: Gale Hawthorne, Peeta Mellark, and Haymitch Abernathy. 

Conflict:  At the District 12 Reaping, which is the annual selection of two Tributes (one boy, one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18), who will compete in the Hunger Games, Katniss’s young sister, Rue, is selected and Katniss volunteers and is accepted to take her place.  

Rising Action: Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch head to the Capitol, and go through elaborate preparations before beginning the Games.  A “star-crossed-lovers” tactic is created, catapulting the District 12 Tributes’ popularity. Katniss manages to rank highest among the tributes, and as the Games unfold, Tributes are killed, alliances are made and broken, and the field of competitors narrows.  A twist occurs when the rules are changed, allowing for two from the same district to win.
Climax: The final battle is at hand, and Katniss and Peeta are able to kill the only other Tribute.  Their glory is short-lived when the rules of the game are changed again, disallowing a joint win and putting Katniss and Peeta at odds with one another to kill or be killed.  In an ultimate gesture of rebellion against the Capitol, Katniss and Peeta are on the verge of double suicide, when the rules change again and the Capitol, in a desperate move to keep the Districts from rebelling, decide to allow two winners after all.
Falling Action:  Katniss and Peeta are sent to recover and be restored and must continue the “star-crossed-lovers” tactic even through their final interviews and ceremony. They must be believable; otherwise, the Capitol will punish them for their rebellion.
Resolution:  Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch return to District 12.  Katniss realizes Peeta’s love was real, and Peeta realizes Katniss’s love was not – or so she says.  

Literary Elements:  Symbolism – for example, the Mockingjay pin evolves from a simple reminder of the giver (Madge), to a reminder of Katniss’s father, to representing Rue, and in the very definition of the bird, rebellion against the Capitol. Additionally, figurative language is used throughout the story to enrich and make more meaningful the passages. For example the simile in, “The nest bursts open like an egg, and a furious swarm of trackker jackers takes to the air” (14.11) is much more descriptive than just saying the nest broke open.

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