Friday, December 6, 2013

The Hunger Games - some additional brief thoughts

Last week I was compelled to post something about the recent ***Hunger Games*** movie by the teenagers who were making lots of noise in our tv room. The next morning, the teenagers who stayed over the night are raiding our kitchen for breakfast, I was compelled to think about the bigger-picture issues that are brought up in the Hunger Games trilogy.

I found this series to be well done from a bigger-picture perspective. See, when I read the trilogy, I noticed the inequality between the districts and the capitol. However, I experienced the first book (& film) as more personal stories. 

Through the first book, I found myself preoccupied with Katniss, particularly with regard to how she would:
  1. navigate her relationships with Peeta and with Gale; 
  2. experience the scarcity of the life she's accustomed to in District 12 compared to the extravagance of the capitol; and 
  3. conduct herself during the games.

The global issues of hunger in the face of plenty, of comfort in the face of struggle, and of obliviousness to injustice were there in the story, but weren't center-stage for me.

The second and third books, though, move Katniss and the reader beyond the personal and into the universal/global. It's almost as if the characters are being forced to mature – to grow up – right in front of us. Which, in itself, is another reason that this is a great series for teenagers to read. Hopefully, in addition to the personal struggles we all face(d) during adolescence, they see that part of themselves mirrored in their reading.

The ideas and the imagined reality presented in the books certainly are disturbing. And at the same time, I feel like they reflect the realities that high-school-aged people struggle with. For instance, we see the political reality that some people are oppressed by those in power. We see that sometimes it's necessary to sacrifice something of ourselves for the benefit of those we love. And every so often, it becomes necessary in life to leave everything behind in order to move on with our life … and when we do that, we often discover what's actually important and worth working to hang on to.

At the same time, what's in the books and films are real life in caricature. But issues presented cartoonishly large give young readers permission to see their own struggles mirrored in literature in a way that takes them seriously.

Which makes the books and films worth the time, at least in my opinion.