The Hunger Games: Five Things That Helped to Bring The Capitol Down
Fate has long been viewed by many as a controlling force in the world, always keeping its thumb on things, assuring that events take place as expected and are following a certain path leading towards a particular end. Literature has always been a place where the idea of Fate is discussed and applied. Fate causes empires to crumble, epic heroes to fall, and travelers to traverse the long, winding road home. One example in literature where fate is most certainly at work is the first installment of The Hunger Games series. While Katniss finds herself tumbling down the rabbit hole of revolution, what is actually at play is a series of very particular events, one leading to the next, that facilitates the downfall of The Capitol. Here are fives ways in which fate plays a significant role in The Hunger Games.
5. Lack of Perimeter Security in District 12
Katniss Everdeen was not born a killer. She was not born a hunter or a gatherer or anything else that should be happening outside the bounds of District 12. All of these qualities were facilitated by a gross negligence towards perimeter security in District 12. Regarding the fence meant to both keep out predators and keep in citizens, Katniss notes that the fence is “supposed to be electrified twenty-four hours a day” but that because they rarely have electricity supplied to District 12, the fence is “usually safe to touch.”
Katniss was often taken beyond the perimeter of District 12 by her father when she was a child. It was there in the woods outside their Appalachian community that she began to learn the skills that would serve her so well in the arena later in her life. He taught her to hunt, how to gather, what was edible and what would kill you. Once her father died, Katniss continued the practice and sharpened her skills to a deadly quotient. She became revered for her skills with a bow, as Peeta notes when he says that “My father buys her squirrels. He always comments on how the arrows never pierce the body. She hits every one in the eye. It’s the same with the rabbits she sells the butcher. She can even bring down a deer.” The lack of perimeter security around the district helped to form Katniss into a woman more than capable of handling herself in the arena.
4. Peeta Mellark is Selected as Tribute
Perhaps one of the most important things that happens in the Hunger Games is the fact that Peeta Mellark is chosen to represent District 12 in the 74th Hunger Games with Katniss. Peeta plays a very significant role for Katniss throughout the series, but particularly during the first games. His bubbly, loveable attitude and winning smile serve as a juxtaposition to Katniss’ stoicism and reservedness. Often times it is Peeta that carries the pair when the public eye is at its most scrutinizing. Katniss possibly would have found herself in a much different situation than she did had she been paired with anyone else, especially someone that did not understand to such a high degree how the Hunger Games really work.
Peeta is a public relations maven. He knows just when to say exactly what needs to be said, how to pull at the strings of the citizens of The Capitol. He creates and spins the story about his love for Katniss (not that it is orchestrated), he turns the young “couple” into something the people can believe in, and, most importantly, Peeta provides the kindling and ignites the first spark for what would become The Girl on Fire. It is because of Peeta that Katniss ever really had a chance once the going got tough in the arena.
3. Cinna is Selected to be the Stylist for Katniss
Katniss is described as being a fairly plain young woman. There is nothing particularly spectacular about her, and she comes from a District where is it not considered important, or feasible for that matter, to live a life very conducive to being “pretty.” When she volunteers as tribute, she comes to The Capitol as a young and innocent girl from the hills of Appalachia and looks the part. Her team of stylists seem to have quite the difficult time simply preparing her to meet with Cinna for the first time. However, once he comes onto the scene, things begin to open up for Katniss.
One of the most important decisions that Cinna makes it to veer away from the standard practice of dressing up the tributes as one of the traditional workers from their district. Normally tributes from District 12 are dressed as coal miners, which is the primary job in that particular district. Cinna, however, decides to go in a slightly different direction, dressing Katniss and Peeta up as pieces of coal and adding a little touch of razzle dazzle by allowing their costumes to give the appearance of being on fire, such as a burning piece of coal would look. This move immediately throws both tributes into the spotlight and makes Katniss the most desirable tribute in The Capitol. Cinna also makes some very important wardrobe and behavioral decisions for Katniss that help to shape her public persona before the Games began, endearing her to the audience and giving them a reason to believe in her. Without the assistance of Cinna, considering everything he does for Katniss before his departure in the second book, Katniss more than likely would not have been nearly as successful in the arena. Had she had any other stylist, perhaps they would have treated Katniss and Peeta the same as any other stylist and dressed them as workers as usual. More than likely, had that been the case, she would have been the cause for cannon fire long before the games were over.
2. The Arena
There is one very important aspect to the arena that played a major part in Katniss being successful: It was basically her back yard. Readers and viewers are given glimpses of what the different arenas have been like. Some are like a wintery region. Some are more like deserts. Some, like in Catching Fire, are set up like a tropical environment. The 74th Hunger Games, however, seemingly places Katniss back beyond the fences of District 12 where she hid from the prying eyes of The Capitol and honed her skills as a tracker, hunter, and gatherer. These skills learned at home directly correlate to the first arena she is presented with and the fact that it was so similar to her home was a distinct advantage to her.
More than likely not many other tributes were very familiar with a terrain such as that which is given in her first Hunger Games. Many of them are from regions near water, or flat lands, or lands with more rocky terrain. Katniss, however, feels very much at home in this arena and she is able to capitalize on that comfort by reacting to situations and going about her way of playing the games just as she would were she stalking the woods of District 12. Had the arena been a desert, or something else completely different from that which she is accustomed to, there is a good chance that she would have not survived the Games. Granted, she does see an arena much different in Catching Fire, but the situation is completely different and she has multiple allies that are constantly making sure that she makes it out of the arena at any cost. Had The Capitol only chosen any different type of arena for this particular Hunger Games, things may have turned out quite differently for President Snow.
1. Foxface Eats the Berries First
One of the real twists of fate in The Hunger Games comes near the end of the Games after Katniss has finally nursed Peeta beck to well enough health to leave the cave they have been hiding in for quite some time. As they make their way through the woods Katniss goes off to hunt and leaves Peeta to gather some other things for them to eat. As she is off she realizes that it has been some time since she has heard from Peeta recently, he is not returning her whistles. When she arrives at the spot where she left him, he is nowhere to be found. She rushes around, eventually finding him picking berries by a stream. Katniss takes a moment to look at the berries and then realizes, at the same time she hears a cannon boom go off, that these berries are not for consumption. When Peeta is still standing they are initially confused, but then see Foxface being lifted from the woods.
Foxface is one of the craftiest tributes in the Games. She effectively makes it almost to the very end simply by sneaking around and quietly stealing whatever she needs. This, as it turns out, was her downfall. She snuck up on Peeta and stole some of their food, including the berries which led to her demise. Were it not for Foxface trailing Katniss and Peeta, it is more than likely that Peeta, being a somewhat simple person with almost no knowledge of the natural world, would have certainly eaten the berries and been killed. This would have set off a chain of events that would have led to Katniss dying much sooner than later. Considering her skill, there is still a chance that she could have made it out of the arena if she was able to get over the fact that she would have just watched Peeta die right before her from eating poisonous berries. However, over the course of the narrative, there is no way that Katniss could have survived without Peeta. As Gale says in Mockingjay, “Katniss will pick whoever she thinks she can’t survive without.”
Over the course of all three novels, there are many instances that could be viewed as fate intervening. These are just some of the instances from the first novel. However, it is clear that all of these instances were integral in the fall of The Capitol. Had one of the things been different, such as something being selected aside from Peeta or if there was a completely different arena, things might have turned out completely different in Panem. Generally speaking, looking at fate in literature can seem like an obvious and useless endeavor. However, it is interesting to look at how events play themselves out and imagine what could have happened had this or that had gone differently. Suzanne Collins left no shortage of moments of fate throughout the series, and if we choose, have many different ways of imagining her world under different circumstances where things were different.
What do you think? Leave a comment.