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Hunger Games & Catching Fire: What the Movies Leave Out or Fail to Adequately Explain
Questions this Hub Answers
1. What & where is Panem?
2. Why is it called Hunger Games?
3. What is the purpose of the Hunger Games?
4. Who is the weird woman with the pink hair?
5. What is the mockingjay?
Catching Fire is the sequel to Hunger Games. Both of these are originally sci-fi books written by Suzanne Collins and there is one more book in the trilogy, Mockingjay, which will be coming out as a movie soon (actually two movies, Mockingjay Part 1 & Mockingjay Part 2). Many people have watched the movies but haven’t read the books. If you haven’t read the books, then there is a lot of information that you are missing. If you haven’t read or watched the Hunger Games or Catching Fire yet, then please be advised that this hub has spoilers.
Panem & The Rebellion
Book one, Hunger Games, tells us that Panem is a nation that evolved after what we know as North America was completely destroyed in the apocalypse. It does not give a time period but judging by how advanced the technology is, this movie takes place in the future with the Capitol located near where the Rocky Mountains used to be. Panem consists of The Capitol, where the President and other well-off individuals live. Everyone else lives in one of the 13 districts surrounding the Capitol.
At some point in their past, a rebellion took place between The Capitol and the districts, resulting in an all-out war. During the war, The Capitol created some genetically altered creatures, specifically a jabberjay, which is a mutated bird that can mentally record whole conversations and repeat them. When the district residents found out about the jabberjays, they started holding false conversations so that the jabberjays would return to The Capitol with incorrect information. The Capitol was able to disperse the rebellion, and District 13 was utterly obliterated, leaving just 12 districts. The Capitol tried to destroy all the jabberjays but some got away and escaped into the wild where they mated with mockingbirds, resulting in a new species called mockingjays. Mockingjays have the ability to mentally record whole songs that they hear and repeat them.
Because of the rebellion, the Capitol has punished the districts with The Hunger Games, a game played annually that requires a male and female from each district (24 all together) called tributes. The tributes must go to a technologically created arena and fight until only one “victor” remains alive. Only children between the ages of 12 and 18 are eligible for The Games.
The movie Hunger Games vaguely touch on the fact that the people in the districts are severely starving. We see the main character, Katniss Everdeen, and her friend Gale hunting in the woods. Actually, it is illegal to hunt in the woods, but everyone is so hungry in District 12 that they overlook this because Katniss and Gale trade the game for items that their households may need.
Book one teaches us about tesserae, which is a portion of grain and oil that each person receives annually, but the amount of tesserae is so sparse that it doesn’t last long. Each child, ages 12-18, are able to get another ration of tesserae in exchange for their name going into the Hunger Games draft ball. The same way that Katniss is the main provider for her family, Gale is the main provider for his family, so both of their names are in the draft ball quite a few times.
This is why Katniss was so surprised when they called her sister, Prim’s, name. Prim's name was only in the ball once--which meant that the odds were definitely supposed to be in her favor. And that’s why Gale was so surprised when they didn’t call his name because his name was in the ball 48 times due to the tesserae.
Effie Trinket: The Pasty Face Woman with Weird Clothes & Colorful Hair
In the book, she’s actually a very likeable character. She is the escort for District 12 and in a sense, her job sucks because her tributes always die in the Hunger Games. The only tribute from District 12 who has ever won the Games is Haymitch, the blond-haired drunk in the movie.
Why does she look that way? She epitomizes the style of the people of the Capitol: wild colorful hair, extravagant outfits, outlandish makeup, etc., etc. These people dye their skin different shades, like pale green or vibrant pink, and draw designs on their face--anything to keep up with whatever's trending at the time.
Hunger Games 1 (the movie) completely leaves out the avoxes, but Catching Fire (the movie) shows a glimpse of an avox in the background during a scene where Katniss, Peeta, and Effie are sitting at the dinner table. An avox is a traitor who The Capitol captures and cut out their tongue, thereby making them mute. The avox is then forced to serve the people of The Capitol.
In Hunger Games 1 (the book), Katniss meets an avox who is forced to serve her. She recognizes the girl to be a district runaway that she ran into while in the woods hunting. The girl's partner was killed and the girl was sucked up in a hovercraft and turned into an avox. Katniss feels guilty because she didn't try to help the girl in the woods.
In Hunger Games 2: Catching Fire (the book), one of the peacemakers try to protect Gale from being whipped and that peacemaker is turned into an avox. He is forced to be Katniss' servant when she returns to The Capitol.
- Katniss outsmarted him in The Hunger Games
- Katniss has made Panem look not as powerful or in control as the the Capitol portrays itself to be
- Snow knows that Katniss' undying love for Peeta is a show
- The "girl on fire" has ignited uprisings in the districts
Catching Fire: Why is President Snow so Mad?
The Hunger Games is meant to keep the people of the districts oppressed and afraid of the Capitol. When Katniss Everdeen decided to eat the poisonous berries at the same time that Peeta ate them, thereby refusing to give President Snow a single victor, she outsmarted him and she took power away from The Capitol. Since she is called “the girl on fire” due to the ignited coal miner outfit that her stylist, Cinna, made her, it now seems like she has “set fire” to the other districts. Her one act of rebellion with the poisonous berries are causing many acts of rebellion within all the other districts.
The Love Triangle
After watching Catching Fire, who do you think Katniss' heart truly belongs to?
District 13 – Is it Really Gone?
In Catching Fire (the book), Katniss sneaks off into the woods alone and ends up running into two ladies from District 8 who are on the run for their lives. They show her a mockingjay imprint pressed into bread, which is the symbol for rebellion, being that Katniss wore a mockingjay pin on her clothing during the first Hunger Games. They tell Katniss that they are fleeing to District 13, which the Capitol has always told and taught them that this district does not exist. Because of old clips of District 13 that these ladies have noticed on television, they believe that the Capitol has been lying to them and that District 13 still exists. They believe that the Capitol doesn’t mess with District 13 residents—who supposedly now live underground—because when they did exist, they were in charge of nuclear power.
To be continued...
These are just a few things that the movies leave out or do not adequately explain. For further understanding of the movies, please read my hub Catching Fire: Full Explanation of What Happened & Why.
© 2014 Jessica Barrow