The Hunger Games and Liberty
The Hunger Games series tackles issues including tyranny, oppression, and poverty. Panem may be fictional, but the themes addressed in the book are real. How are the Hunger Games relevant in the real world?
Literature and legend often reflect their culture. Some themes, like that of rulers imposing coercive power, or of individuals rising up against tyrants, are as relevant today as they were in antiquity. In this video, Professor Amy Sturgis explores how the Hunger Games draws on ancient themes about freedom and individual liberty. “These stories aren’t just entertainment,” Sturgis says. “They are reflections of who and what we are.”
America has experienced two major periods of prohibition: the alcohol prohibition of the 20’s and 30’s and the War on Drugs from 71’ to present. The Hunger Games illustrates an important lesson—just as Katniss Everdeen sells her poached game on the black market at “the Hob,” dealers sell drugs on the black market.
Humanity’s struggle against tyranny and oppression is an important theme in the Hunger Games. There are many real-life stories of oppressed people fighting for their freedom, including the Black Seminole Rebellion of the early 19th century. Just as Katniss Everdeen sought to escape the tyrannical control of the Capitol, so too did John Horse and the Black Seminoles flee from their settlements in Florida in search of freedom.
"District Twelve, where you can starve to death in safety.” Katniss Everdeen. In Panem, the Capitol controls almost every aspect of the citizens’ lives. The people of the Districts aren’t allowed to trade freely, aren’t allowed to speak freely, and are forced to live within the walls of their District. When security and sustenance are exclusively provided by the government, we lose control of our lives. If we exchange all of our liberty for security, we end up with neither liberty nor security.