The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is based on a girl named Katniss Everdeen who volunteers to compete in the Hunger Games in exchange for her sister’s safety out of the game. In the Hunger Games 24 participants are chosen to fight to the death until only one participant is left. Katniss displays, but also challenges feminism throughout the story, in which this connects with Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of The Rights of Women and her belief on societies portrayal of women and how it still exists today. The Hunger Games also reinforces the idea of feminism, especially when Collins chose a female protagonist to be the main character. By examining Katniss through a feminist lens, one can see that Katniss embodies masculinity and with no choice she embodies feminism by using it to her advantage to get through and survive the games. Katniss embodies masculinity when she takes on the head of household after her father passed away, with the way she carries herself, and her ability to care for her family. Due to her father’s passing, she is forced to step up as the provider of her household and she developed skills in hunting and archery.
She goes to the Hob, to trade and bring back what she can for her family, They lose all dignity, in acquiring power, and act as men are observed to act when they have been exalted by the same means (Wollstonecraft 198). Wollstonecraft is explaining the double standard that men are expected to act a certain way and to be successful but if a woman were to do the same there’s a chance the woman would have to pay the consequence. Katniss took on roles that were meant for the men in the family, in which she had no choice. Katniss is also the protector for her younger sister, Primrose, she embodies this when she volunteers to compete in the Hunger Games instead of her sister who was first elected to compete in the games. Katniss felt the need to protect her sister since she was the provider, protector, and head of her household, and because no one else could have protected her sister, she states They’re not our kids, of course. But they might as well be. And you can throw in our mothers, too, because how would they live without us. (Collins 9). When Katniss had a moment to speak with her family and friends before the games, she spoke with her mother. Katniss states, Well you have to help it this time. You can’t clock out and leave Prim on her own. There’s no me now to keep you both alive. (Collins 35). The way her tone and usage of language during the conversation regarding her sister was not a conversation that a mother and daughter would have, it was more of a conversation that a Husband and wife would have. Katniss played the role of a mother and father for her sister, in the games the same role appears when she tries to protect Rue. Since Katniss wasn’t very feminine those that oversaw her appearance had to train her to be less masculine and more feminine. Another thing that symbolized her masculinity, was her bow and arrow. In society it isn’t the norm to see a woman with a weapon, but this is not the first fictional story to have a female protagonist with a weapon, in Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler the main character Rye also carries a gun, The bow and arrow is my weapon. But I’ve spent a fair amount of time throwing knives as well (Collins 57). In Hunger Games, Katniss uses her bow and arrow to not only fend and protect herself in the games, but she also uses it to put food on the table for her mother and Prim.
In Speech Sounds, Rye uses her gun to protect her through the apocalypse, but she never used it until Obsidian died. Both characters are alike since they are strong willed, and brave, but they both also use their weapons as a way of protecting themselves from those that try to harm them. In which this goes against Wollstonecraft’s definition of feminism since women in the past needed men to protect them, but Rye and Katniss did not. During the games Katniss embodies masculinity when she had to protect Peeta, in society men are usually portrayed as the protector and the muscle, but in this story Peeta wasn’t so masculine because he relied on Katniss to protect him, What do I care? I’ve got you to protect me now, (Collins 312). Katniss embodies feminism by how she provides for her family and the amount of responsibility she takes on. Although it does not meet societies expectation of women it still works in favor of feminism because of the equal right of men and women. Since she takes care of her sister, Katniss has become more nurturing and more of a mother towards Prim which is an ability she uses during the games. Katniss couldn’t stand the thought of Prim being killed, so she willingly competed in the games, she took Prim’s place and Prim didn’t have to compete that year, I volunteer. I gasp. I volunteer as tribute (Collins 22). Katniss risked her own life to protect her sister, this was a prime example of how this sacrifice could of came from a thought process of a motherly mindset. Katniss had the same mindset when she met Rue during the games, Rue was about the same age as Prim which helped the two bond a lot faster, I bite my lip. Rue is a small yellow flower that grows in the meadow. Rue. Primrose (Collins 99). Since Rue reminded Katniss of Prim, when she died Katniss sang Rue a lullaby that she sang to Prim, then buried and made a salute to Rue in the cameras so District 11 can see, I want to show the capitol. that Rue was more than just a piece in their games. And so am I (Collins 237). Katniss realizes that she’s being watched by the Capitol because of the stunt she did with Peeta with the berries, creating two victors. The Capitol decided to come up with the idea that the two were star crossed lovers that were willing to sacrifice both their lives if they both couldn’t become victors. Those working for the Capitol were teaching her to act more feminine and classier in front of the Capitol and their people.
She used this to her advantage to get closer to the Capitol and try and take them down for what they’ve done. Katniss’s reinforcement of feminism was her relationship with Peeta, it was all a faade and a tactic of survival because she knew if she pretended to be in love with Peeta for the cameras it would get her closer to the Capitol. Another way she embodies feminism during the games was with Peeta, when she nurtures him and takes care of him while he was wounded in the caves. When Katniss was assessed on her abilities and skills as a hunter and a fighter, she was shown no attention at all, it was as if she never existed. When Katniss speared the apple in the pig’s mouth with one of her arrows, she was trying to prove to them that she is worth the recognition and that she does exist. Thank you for your consideration. I say. Then I give a slight bow and walk straight toward the exit without being dismissed (Collins 102). Mary Wollstonecraft even discusses that women must take extreme measures to get the attention and power they deserve. In the story the president of Panem is male and the president of the United States is also a male, it becomes obvious that those in power not only in real life but in a fictional story is men. Its as though society has portrayed women as incapable of having that amount of power over a large population of people. In Hunger Games the highest main power in Panem lays on a man’s shoulders, in which shows their belief that women are incapable of such power and responsibility even in a fictional story. It forces society to believe that even in a postapocalyptic world, male figures are the only ones to be in charge and have a say on what goes on in a nation. The idea of Katniss is important to this novel because she becomes a role model for man girls and even boys who are still eligible for the games. She may have instilled a courage in these kids to not conform to the way the Capitol expects them to comply but instead to show them the Capitol that they are not just some game piece. Katniss over time becomes not only a person or role model but the face of a revolution to change the history of Panem.
The Hunger Games is a futuristic post-apocalyptic fictional story that is about empowerment and how one girl can be driven enough to defeat anyone who stands in the way of what she’s trying to reach. Katniss embodies what feminism would look like in a fictional society and how she can conform to the roles of women at the same time. Mary Wollstonecraft discusses that women need to take a stand and not listen to what society expects of them, whether it be how they speak, dress, and portray themselves to others. In the Hunger Games Katniss defines what Wollstonecraft was talking about, a woman that uses what society expects of her to her advantage to make a change for not only herself and her family but everyone else in Panem. Katniss embodies that it doesn’t matter whether a person is masculine or feminine, they can still be driven and not let societal norms stop them from achieving their goals. By analyzing Katniss embodiment of feminism and masculinity, she becomes aware to the idea of feminism she does not reject it, but she embodies it by nurturing others and outsmarting the Capitol to get out of the games, while also using her masculine skills such as hunting and archery to win the games. This becomes significant to the novel because Katniss plays this major role of defying the odds against what the Capitol expects of her, and how she was able to use her skills and abilities to her advantage to not only care for other but to use against higher power.
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