The Use of Symbols in the Hunger Games

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Written by Suzanne Collins, the Hunger Game is an adult dystopian novel with various symbols. The aim of this paper is to discuss three important symbols in the narrative and explore their role in the setting. To start with, Panem is an important word in the novel that symbolizes the dystopian United States.

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Recalled as Panem et circenses in ancient Rome and used to refer to circuses and bread in Latin, Panem is referenced to gladiatorial games of Ancient Rome. In reference to Roman Ceaser, the Panem phrase is used as a strategy to lure the public minds using a forceful discontent. Roman Caesar provided entertainment and plenty of food to the public as a strategy of quelling discontentment. The novel combines reality television and gladiatorial Games to create the narrative behind the Hunger Games.

There is a link between the Panem and the U.S culture as the author decides to retain the U.S cultural heritage such as Appalachia mining industry within the present-day U.S Panem setup. However, the metaphor behind the District 12 becomes complicated due to the influence of Ancient Roman on Panem. Connections between the modern U.S and Ancient Rome exist as a result of Panem, suggesting that the modern United States is derived from its own systematic Panem et circenses strategy. To remind the districts of their powerlessness, the games were created as a defeat mechanism for the Capitol. In addition, people from Panem are discontent to the fact that the districts are underfed. Panem has failed to emulate Panem et circenses strategy given that most peoples have decided to be rebellion. For instance, due to less availability of food, Katniss decided to engage in illegal hunting as the District 12 is directly involved in the large black market (Collins 3). In this perception, Panem as a symbol in this novel is used to describe the state and offer criticism towards the modern culture in the United States. In summary, there is a similarity between the North American colonies with the thirteen districts of Panama. It is hard to reflect on the fate of all 13 districts of Panem, given that they are ruled by an autocratic system of government. Mockingjay is the second most important symbol in this novel that represents defiance.

The symbol is derived from the bird’s symbolism as a result of a failed project that was influenced by the Capitol to spy and mark the movements of the rebellious districts. The bird symbolism acts as a reminder of the district’s recalcitrance and the failure of the Capitol to trace all movements within the districts as Katniss acknowledge that it as something that slapped the face of the capital (Collins 2). From the start of the novel, Katniss is given a Mockingjay pin Madge as an emblem reflecting resistance, but later the use of the bird symbolizes defiance. However, Rue and Katniss used the birds as a means of communication with Mockingjay becoming a link between the two. However, the death of Rue affects Katniss as she decided to decorate the body of Rue with flowers as a form of defying the Capitol and memory to Rue. The level of hatred Katniss has over the Capitol increased when she later came across the Mockingjay. It reminds her of Rue and she wishes to take revenge over the rebels from the Capitol. Apart from symbolizing the rebellion against the Capitol, Mockingjay itself offers an additional symbolism that reflects on a creature with a spirit of its own as far as the behavior of Katniss is concerned. It is through this spirit that the Capitol has failed to concur, impose power and control all living creatures within 13 districts. The last important symbol in this novel is the Katniss’s dresses symbolize the spirit of the girl.

The Katniss dresses are designed from Cinna and transform her in an epithet since these particular designs reflect and acknowledge the coal mining industry based in the Katniss home district. The dresses are embroiled with synthetic flames to reflect the burning coal. Though the rule of power belongs to the Capitol, the spirit symbolized by the Katniss’s dresses implicate that the power is in the people and the cultural heritage has to embrace the people’s desire. In conclusion, the aim of this paper was to discuss three important symbols in the narrative and explore their role in the setting. The first symbol was Panem, which is an important word in the novel that symbolizes the dystopian United States. Panem also acts as a symbol used to describe the state and offer criticism towards the modern culture in the United States. The second important symbol discussed in this paper was the Mockingjay, a symbol that represents defiance. Last, Katniss’s dresses were the third important symbol that describes the spirit of the girl and her desire for cultural heritage.

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