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Broken Aesop / The Hunger Games

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The Aesops in The Hunger Games are usually undermined by hypocrisy or the misapplication of metaphors.

  • The series uses the Capitol as a criticism of the high class. Through its description of the Capitol's fashion culture, the series points out the vanity of the Capitol and through its description of the Capitol's advanced technology, magnificent architecture, and exotic foods, it points out the the Capitol's greed and imperialism over the Districts. However, this same criticism is never applied to Katniss when she takes advantage of the Capitol's luxuries. For example, most people partaking in Capitol fashion are described by the narrative as vain or bizarre in appearance; in contrast, Katniss when partaking in Capitol fashion describes herself as beautiful without any sense of irony. In Catching Fire, Katniss criticizes the Capitol citizens for wasting food by throwing it away or vomiting it all out whilst forgetting that she had just tried to sample every Capitol dish and was overeating to the point of being unable to take another bite.
  • Early on, Katniss discusses with Gale the moral dilemma of killing another tribute in the Hunger Games, which emphasizes the cruel nature of the game. However, Katniss never actually struggles with this dilemma as in the beginning of the 74th Hunger Games, her initial plan was to grab the bow and arrows from the Cornucopia and kill the other tributes, only considering the feasibility of her plan rather than the moral dilemma of killing other people. In fact, throughout the 74th and 75th Hunger Games, Katniss generally doesn't have moral qualms in attacking the other tributes.
    • Furthermore, it is hard to take this Aesop seriously when Katniss hates the Career tributes and wants to kill them because they are the "Capitol's lapdogs". What doesn't help is that the Careers are usually portrayed as irredeemable, violent thugs, so the moral dilemma of killing them is often ignored even if the Careers in question haven't done anything that merits attacking them. This is especially notable in the 75th Hunger Games in which the Careers work with her and the other tributes to take a stand against the Capitol during the interview phase, but in the actual Games, she and her allies don't trust the Careers and immediately attack the Careers at the start of the game when the Careers were weaponless. note 
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    • Unlike the Career tributes, the non-Career tributes are portrayed more sympathetically. However, this sort of sympathetic characterization is only relevant for certain tributes; the other tributes are Redshirts that the protagonists consider disposable. For example, in the 74th Hunger Games, Peeta joins up with the Careers with the ulterior motive to protect Katniss but also helps the Careers kill the other tributes. Peeta's morality in this decision is never questioned at all; as a matter of fact, Peeta is portrayed in the right for helping the Careers kill the weaker non-Career tributes on the off-chance that he can help Katniss.
  • The non-Career Districts view the Career Districts as evil for training their tributes for the Hunger Games since training gives the Career tributes advantages over the non-Careers. However, given that the non-Career Districts are all right with letting their tributes, who may be as young as twelve or even have physical handicaps, go into the Hunger Games unprepared, it is difficult to note how the Career Districts are in the wrong for giving their tributes the best chance for survival.
    • Katniss justifies this portrayal by stating that the Career District's training system is illegal, but all of Katniss's relevant skills in the Hunger Games, including archery and her hunting-trapping abilities, are the result of poaching. While she does it to provide food for her family, it's still illegal, so her point is rather hypocritical.
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    • The narrative also points to the Career Districts' statuses as the Capitol's lapdogs, but this is an Informed Attribute as the Career Districts are still losing at least one tribute to the Games regardless of the winner. In addition, District 1 and District 4 are some of the first Districts to join the rebellion, and District 2 still has its own fair share of rebels, which includes a Hunger Games victor. Finally, Enobaria, the surviving District 2 tribute, votes in favor of the Capitol Hunger Games. All of this suggests that most of the Career Districts, including their tributes, were never genuinely on the Capitol's side.
    • In Catching Fire, the Aesop is completely shattered when Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch train "like Careers" for the Quarter Quell. In addition, Katniss and Peeta ally with the District 4 Careers, whose Career training is usually unacknowledged. On the other hand, the District 1 and 2 Careers are still portrayed as villainous for being Careers, so there is definitely some Selective Enforcement going around.
  • Katniss and Peeta's threat to commit suicide together after the Gamemakers cancel the two-winner clause and revert to the one-winner ruling is supposedly an unprecedented act of rebellion against the Capitol that would incite further uprisings. However, the problem is that the Gamemakers instated the two-winner clause in the first place because the Capitol audience enjoyed the star-crossed lovers narrative, suggesting that the Gamemakers eventually let them both live to better meet the audience's expectations for the love story. Even then, the purpose of the Hunger Games was to demonstrate the Capitol's absolute power over the Districts, and Katniss and Peeta only survived because one of the Gamemakers felt sentimental.
    • Furthermore, Katniss and Peeta's rebellion is undermined by their earlier actions in the Games. Katniss was actively hunting the Careers, and Peeta himself teamed up with the Careers, who were also hunting the other tributes, meaning both of them were playing the Games as they were intended to be played and were entertaining the Capitol crowd as a result.
  • The main theme of Mockingjay is that war is horrible and pointless. However, it fails to take into account that Districts had to wage war against the Capitol because the Capitol was purposefully starving the Districts and the Districts themselves had no political power for a pacifistic rebellion.
  • Mockingjay is the only book in the series without an actual Hunger Games. That said, Mockingjay stresses that war is similar to the Hunger Games and is thus just another Hunger Games. Katniss comes to this revelation when she realizes that the tributes, including the Careers, are similar to the District 2 loyalists in that they are not the real enemy but rather the Capitol's slaves. Because of this, she refuses to kill any of the District 2 loyalists. However, this comparison doesn't work since while killing the other tributes in the Hunger Games doesn't change the status quo of the oppressive Capitol, killing the District 2 loyalists is unfortunately a necessary step to ending the rule of the oppressive Capitol in District 2 if the loyalists don't cooperate or surrender.
    • On a similar point, Katniss tells Gale that his rationalization of using avalanches to trap and kill the District 2 loyalists in the Nut can be used to justify sending kids to the Hunger Games. However, this analogy falls apart when one considers that the rebels were trapping and killing Capitol-affiliated soldiers in the Nut to facilitate overthrowing the corrupt Capitol whereas the Capitol was using the Hunger Games to kill off the Districts' children mostly For the Evulz. Also, Katniss herself has killed plenty of people in various ways at this point and as Gale asked, "What is the difference between using avalanches and using arrows to kill the Capitol's troops?"
  • The series portrays President Coin as evil as President Snow to show that opposing sides of a war can be not so different. Generally, the two actions that make her as bad as Snow is her False Flag Operation of bombing the Capitol's civilians and District 13's medics to sabotage Snow's reputation and her proposal of a final Hunger Games with the Capitol's children.

    However, the only evidence that Coin planned a False Flag Operation in the first place comes from the word of President Snow, who in Catching Fire made a self-serving deal with Katniss before sending her back to the Hunger Games to die, not to mention bombing her District to oblivion after she escaped the Quarter Quell arena. Snow's subsequent accusation that Coin was letting the other twelve Districts and the Capitol run each other to the ground is contradicted by the fact that District 13 throughout Mockingjay have been aiding and supplying the other Districts to the point of losing most of its hovercrafts in the war. More importantly, Coin has little to gain and much to lose from killing the Capitol civilians and her own medics as she is guaranteed to be the next person in power after defeating the Capitol due to her position as head of the rebellion. On the other hand, Snow is on the verge of defeat and has nothing to lose. Considering that Snow was willing to poison himself while poisoning his political opponents to deflect suspicion, it fits Snow's modus operandi to kill his own civilians and lie to Katniss on whom the true culprit is. Basically, the narrative offers more evidence suggesting that Snow killed the civilians and medics than it does for Coin, and Snow is a Manipulative Bastard, so his word is hardly reliable and is even disproved by the story at some points.

    As for Coin's proposal for a final Hunger Games, this was only proposed to stop the Districts from slaughtering all of the Capitol's citizens. While not the best plan for dealing with the Districts' need for vengeance note , her proposal is preferable to letting the Districts commit genocide on the Capitol's citizens or risk getting into another civil war by not satisfying the Districts' demands for blood. In addition, some of her colleagues agree with her although on the whole, they couldn't come to a conclusion. Ultimately, she lets the former Hunger Games tributes decide whether or not a final Hunger Games is an appropriate punishment for the Capitol as only the tributes have proper experience with the Hunger Games. As a result, Coin unintentionally comes off as a reasonable leader responding to the needs and wants of the people rather than a power-hungry politician that is no different from Snow. Furthermore, the real problem seems to be the Districts' need for revenge rather than Coin herself.
    • The only way the Aesop isn't broken is if one assumes Coin was lying about the entire issue. However, there is not much evidence to suggest this; in fact, given the number of children that the Districts lost to the Hunger Games and the fact that the rebels were killing Capitol civilians indiscriminately in the final battle, there is more evidence to suggest that Coin was telling the truth.


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