Capitalism And Oppression In The Hunger Games And Kindred

1808 words - 7 pages

The novels The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Kindred by Octavia Butler both contain examples of oppression created and/or worsened by the capitalist society in which they are set. In The Hunger Games, Collins creates a futuristic society of severe class inequality in which the children of the poor are killed for the political benefit and entertainment of the rich. Kindred is primarily set on a 19th century American slave plantation and examines the institution slavery in a fictional context. As Lois Tyson puts it, “getting and keeping economic power is the motive behind all social and political activities”-- this includes the Games from Collins’ novel, and the slave system described in Kindred (Tyson 52). Capitalism creates classism which encourages a culture of oppression in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Kindred by Octavia Butler, and real American society.
The residents of the districts in The Hunger Games are cruelly treated by the ruling Capitol. In the poorest districts, their labor as miners (District 12) or farmers (District 11) is exploited for the good of the rich while they slowly starve or are injured or killed by their dangerous work. This is very clearly a tale of capitalism run amok: the wealth disparity between the rich (the Capitol), the poor (most of the districts), and the “middle class” (the districts with Career tributes, 1 and 2) mirrors that of contemporary American society. Katniss is a vocal critic of this structure throughout the novel, often thinking things like “What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to roll in and die for their entertainment?” (Collins 65). The Capitol brutally represses the districts, exploits their workers, and kills their children while the wealthier in the districts (or the “middle class”) support the regime, happily training their children for the barbaric Hunger Games in exchange for being slightly better off and at least not starving. This resembles the structure of the American socioeconomic class system, in which the very wealthy preserve their control by pitting the middle class against the poor (although supporting the rich is, in reality, contrary to the interests of the middle class): “although the economic interests of middle-class America would be best served by a political alliance with the poor…. in political matters the middle class generally sides with the wealthy against the poor” (Tyson 57). One way this dynamic is illustrated in the novel is through the tesserae, which trade life-saving goods to the poorest families in exchange for putting their children at greater risk of death. The middle class would be better off if there were no Games at all-- their children are...

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