The Lost Potential of The Hunger Games

Fun fact: if you make a hero strong in the beginning, I will be very disappointed if they are not strong at the end. In fact, heroes should be stronger  at the end than they were at the beginning.

And that is why I absolutely hate the ending of The Hunger Games.

Katniss Everdeen, the main character, is introduced as a sixteen-year-old hard working, family loving, tough girl who is determined to do her best to stay alive and keep her sister safe. When her sister Prim is reaped for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers the second she remembers she can. In the beginning, Katniss is characterized mainly by a will to live and that dying love for her sister, even scorning Gale’s and Peeta’s rebellious speeches.

However, throughout that awesome, engaging first book, Katniss also gains a further understanding of the tyrannical Capitol and President Snow, and soon begins to become something of a rebel. She understands the aforementioned speeches, even when her life is on the line more than ever. It isn’t a will to survive that leads her to lay flowers around Rue, and eating poisonous berries goes against that primal instinct. Yet she is willing to die to keep the Capitol from winning, something she wouldn’t have done at the beginning of the story. That is how character development is supposed to work.

But then, in the second and third book, all of that becomes unraveled and Katniss is back to the girl who just wants to survive. She is indecisive and allows herself to be a pawn – the thing she was willing to poison herself to avoid in the first book. By the third book she seems to spend more time hiding than actually fighting.

Yes, I know that what she experienced was horrible. But I don’t read to be reminded of the cruelties of the world – I read to be inspired. And in the first book Katniss was an inspiration, but in the following books she was just another victim.

Now imagine for a minute that that wasn’t true. That Katniss stayed strong, and even became stronger throughout the series.

In the second book, during the Quarter Quell, Haymitch might have trusted her with the plan. If she had known, she might have tried to keep Peeta with her while they were setting the wire up. If she was more proactive, she might have recognized the “It starts at midnight” warning from earlier in the series, and possibly prevented Mags’ death.

In the third book, she would have taken a bigger part in the propos, instead of letting Haymitch tell her what to do. Katniss might have even demanded she be better trained in fighting, and could have even come off as a leader instead of just a face plastered the rebellion.

Instead of just shooting Coin in the end, she could have given one of those in-the-moment speeches like she gave at District eight. Or maybe she would have shut Coin off sooner, when she proposed for a new Hunger Games or even during the rebellion. More people would have listened to her at District Thirteen. She might have been able to remove Coin peacefully, or demanded that an election would have been held right then.

But instead, she became a pawn in the hands of the rebellion just like everyone else.

Image from: http://www.ibtimes.com/hunger-games-mockingjay-part-2-top-5-scenes-book-we-want-see-movie-2188715

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7 thoughts on “The Lost Potential of The Hunger Games

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      1. Sorry for going off-topic… So you’re saying every hero should be portrayed as a flawless individual who never gets rattled?

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      2. Not at all. Heroes should get rattled, I just think that they should overcome whatever’s rattling them. Katniss has every right to be how she is, given what she’s been through, but there are a lot of other characters who have been through just as much who still managed to play an active part in the rebellion

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  1. I like your idea about an alternate ending: Katniss “might have been able to remove Coin peacefully, or demanded that an election would have been held right then.”

    One theme in The Hunger Games is how war damages people both emotionally and morally. Peeta suffers a mental breakdown from torture, and in the 3rd film Katniss had the symptoms of PTSD. Katniss seeks revenge for the death of her sister.

    I would argue that Katniss is strong in the end. She chooses to assassinate President Coin, which is a crime, and will mostly likely end in her own execution. I don’t think it is a morally right decision she made, but it took courage and strength to take that action.

    I wrote a short essay (600 words) on Mockingjay Part 2 called “The Assassination of a President.” If you would like to read it, I am open to any feedback: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2015/11/29/mockingjay-part-2/

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    1. That is a wonderful article and it brings up several good points. I definitely agree that assassinating President Coin wasn’t made out of weakness, but it wasn’t the right thing to do either.
      Also, I’m not saying that the PTSD is a bad thing. It is something that has been ignored a lot in fiction, and that fact that it is there is good. I understand that it isn’t easy to deal with, either. It’s more of the way Katniss just kinda…. stops getting involved in everything and lets everyone use her that I dislike.

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