Recently I immersed myself into the sensation known as The Hunger Games trilogy. As I turned the pages to unravel Suzanne Collins written puzzle, I rediscovered my love for reading that I somehow had dropped inside my chaotic, busy, and career seeking river of life.
Once I finished the last page deeming myself satisfied with the book’s completion, it dawned on me that this post-apocalyptic world may not be as far fetched as we think. Collins’ vivid and thrilling fictional Panem can be seen as a satire for America’s flaws today. Sure, our government is not as controlling as The Capitol and we are not forced to give up our children to fight in a booby trapped arena till death, but the fight and the privilege system is real.I came to this conclusion after two realizations.
The first was that the Panem districts are set up very similarly to American’s class system. The most wealthy and privileged people of the nation of Panem reside in the Capital with the lawmakers and officials. These people live lavish lifestyles and often make big deals out of frivolous situations. They are wasteful and go through life oblivious of the less fortunate, flaunting their economic advantage with outlandish clothing, tattoos, and medical enhancements. They also throw extravagant parties that usually include a showcase of their crazy drug addictions.
In America these same people are called celebrities. They are the ones with so much money, they often throw it away. Those not apart of this group often poke fun of this group while watching them make mockeries of themselves on reality t.v. However, no matter how foolish these people are, the wealthy never want for anything while those beneath them continue to suffer.
The capital thrives because of its exploitation of the twelve districts that encompass the city. Districts 1,2 and 4, known as “Career Districts,” would be what America describes as the middle class. They are strong and healthy, and have the advantage of being “trained” to excel in the games. Districts 3, 5-10 fall under the working class. These districts get by on their resources but sometimes fall prey to poverty situations. Meanwhile, districts 11-12 (the origin of our main characters) are always impoverished and is therefore the poor America. These people appreciate life the most because they see firsthand how harsh life can be.
The big question at this point is, “If Panem is our America, what are the games?” This is where my second realization manifested. The Games exist in our educational system. Those in the middle class get the better schools. They have the resources that “train” them to ace college aptitude test and the knowhow to network in social situations that gain them advancement opportunities. Our working class makes the most of their situation. Sometimes the younger children leave school to help make the ends meet. The lucky ones can leave their poor school districts and join the charter school alliance. This place fosters the individuals intellectual ability and brings them to a level where they can hold up to the elites.
The poor usually get stuck with failing schools that have little to no resources. Few students that start end up making it to graduation, so their schools are called dropout factories. The teachers who work in these schools fall in two categories- they really love their job and want to make a difference or they are new or not that great and can’t find a job elsewhere. The school system trains them to work industrial jobs, not to progress higher education. Poor students have little ambition and know their great disadvantage in the games so they have no goal to succeed. They mainly just want to stay alive.
Every year the graduates all go into a pool together and fight for college acceptance. The careers have no trouble getting into ivy league schools. Working class compete in state schools. The last resort is community colleges and junior colleges. And the poor? The ambitions enter the games and fight really hard until they get the acceptance they deserve. The others get discouraged and fall victim of the system. They work dead end jobs, still living in their undesirable environment. They dream like Katniss that they can run away from their circumstances, and make a better life for themselves without the society class rules. Unlike Katniss, they usually die trying to make a way out.
We continue to watch the games in disgust on the evening news. We see the success of the wealthy and the consequences that befall upon the poor. Just like the book, the games aren’t fair. But the answer is not as simple as an united uprising. All we can just hope that one day we find our Mockingjay that gives us the missing link to fixing the puzzle.