Catching Fire is the second book of The Hunger Games trilogy, a series of books that portray a futuristic society in which 12 poor districts live under the rules of a ruthless and indifferent capitol. Due to a rebellion that happened 75 years before the events the characters of this book are living today, an annual “festivity” began, or at least that is how it is seen in the Capitol. Two adolescents from ages 12-18 are reaped from each district to fight to the death in an arena created by the honorable game makers in the capitol. This, plus poor living conditions like shortages of food, electrified fences surrounding them and maltreatment from the Capitol designated authorities, led the people of the districts to live their lives in a more intelligent way. Either crawling under the fence to hunt, or finding all sorts of medicinal plants are all proof that a person can use resources in a more intelligent way and live in a wiser lifestyle after being exposed to inhumane conditions, rules and acts from society.
The theme was portrayed in the story in an implicit way. For example when Peeta and Katniss, the main characters of the story, were “celebrating” being elected in the annual Hunger Games in a huge feast in the Capitol, we were provided with quotes like this one, happening inside of Katniss’ mind “…And here in the Capitol they’re vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again. Not from some illness of body or mind, not from spoiled food. It’s what everyone does at a party. Expected. Part of the fun” (Collins 80).
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The lifestyle of the people from the Capitol, where people had all they could wish for in the snap of a finger, greatly contrasted how the people of the districts lived, fighting for every little thing they could get, and greatly appreciating what they had. This leads me to believe that the theme the author tried to portray to the readers what that you have to appreciate the things you have. The people of the Capitol did not do this, they took everything for granted and it came back to haunt them when the resources were scarce. The author then used many different literary devices to connect the story to the theme stated above.
The infamous Hunger Games happened in a man made arena that held many horrors, but each of this horrors happened in a specific sector of the arena. Another peculiar characteristic of the arena was that these horrors were intermittent, and they started every day at the same time. That is when they realized that the arena was a clock, and it was perfectly explained by Katniss in this quote “…I can almost see the hands ticking around the twelve-sectioned face of the arena. Each hour begins a new horror, a new Gamemaker weapon, and ends the previous. Lightning, blood rain, fog, monkeys” (Collins 326).
It is as if the arena is ticking off the seconds they have to continue living, and if the arena does not kill them another tribute will. That is how the author connected the setting, in this case the arena, to the theme. She made every second count and the way she stated it you knew that the tributes were embracing every second they of their life because it could be the last one they lived.
One of the literary devices that was used the most by the author was symbols. When going into the first Hunger Games she participated, Katniss took a mockingjay pin that, after she won, became popular around the Capitol. At first it was just a pin, but it became much more. Outside of the Capitol it became a symbol for rebellion, and Katniss as the mockingjay became the face of it. We can see that Katniss knows it too, in this quote “…A shadow of recognition flickers across Caesar’s face, and I can tell he knows that the mockingjay isn’t just my token. That it’s come to symbolize so much more. That what will be seen as a flashy costume change in the Capitol is resonating in an entirely different way throughout the districts” (Collins 253).
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Another symbol that was widely used by Collins were the berries Katniss held out in the first Hunger Games that she participated in.
At first it was just a handful of berries, but at the end it became a part of Katniss identity. Katniss explains their importance in this quote “…The berries. I realize the answer to who I am lies in that handful of poisonous fruit. If I held them out to save Peeta because I knew I would be shunned if I came back without him, then I am despicable. If I held them out because I loved him, I am still self-centered, although forgivable. But if I held them out to defy the Capitol, I am someone of worth. The trouble is, I don’t know exactly what was going on inside me at that moment.” Besides becoming a part of Katniss it also is the reason that her and Peeta had to return to the Hunger Games, but it was also the reason they are still alive. So you could say that if there no berries there would be no story to develop, and therefore no theme to be portrayed.
Another way in which the author presents us the difference of lifestyles and attitudes is in the way she presents the characters and the way her narrative style gives a different air to each and every one of them. For example Effie Trinket was very materialistic and you could say she portrayed everyone in the Capitol. Her job was to reap two children from a poor district and guide them to their probable death and she still expected them to have manners, as we can see in this quote: “At least you two had decent manners. The pair last year ate everything with their hands like a couple of savages. It completely upset my digestion” (Collins 51) She cared about the manners of two kids that had barely touched quality food in their life, and this obviously upset Katniss. She couldn’t believe that people in the Capitol could be so shallow to care about an aspect like that when these kids go through the situations they have to go through everyday. On the other hand Katniss and the people of the Districts that are more human and much less superficial than the people of the Capitol. This connects in a theme because the author makes the people of the Districts appreciate their things and much more likeable than the people from the Capitol and therefore making the theme of the story to make a mark in the mind of the readers.
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Arguably the most important part of the book, the centerpiece, are President Snow’s beloved Games. The author practically associates this two elements as one, and it makes sense. They are both soulless and hated by everyone outside from the Capitol and maybe even some from the Capitol. For example, Katniss explains her fond relationship with President Snow in this quote “…the only thing that distracts me from my current situation is fantasizing about killing President Snow. Not very pretty daydreams for a seventeen-year-old girl, I guess, but very satisfying” (Collins 329).
President Snow and the games are the representation of evil, and they are also the representation of the Capitol. They are so distracted with fancy clothes and tattoos that they don’t realize that a rebellion is in the making. They don’t realize that the food they puke and clothe they wear comes from the districts filled with people that they torture. They don’t realize that if they do not appreciate what they have and who provides it, soon there will be nothing to appreciate.
When looking at the Hunger Games trilogy and reading them superficially, or even when you watched the newly released movies, you think it is about a love trio and war. But when you get to analyze it thoroughly you realize there is much more to this books. The author uses many different literary devises to expound a very important theme in life; you have to appreciate what you have. She uses devices like characters, settings, symbols, conflicts and many more, but the best way about this book is that she does it in a popular way that is enjoyable and makes this book a really good read. This story also teaches us that sometimes a person can use resources in a more intelligent way and live in a wiser lifestyle after being exposed to inhumane conditions, rules and acts from society. We can see this in the lives of Katniss and Peeta, and them being so wise makes them likeable and you want to root them and all of the District’s people in the fight with the Capitol, and this makes you keep reading the book until the end.
Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire. New York: Scholastic Press, 2009. Print.