The success of the books, The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, is remarkable considering that the storyline is of a game in which children kill each other. The books have reached iconic status in America and is an anomaly in the Young Adult Literature genre in that it has a female protagonist yet is popular with male and female readers of all ages. Collins wrote the series in response to her fears of the blurred lines between Reality Shows and televised news events (Blasingame 726). The dystopian world portrayed in the book is rife with Post-colonial themes. There are many opinions about the proper definition of Post-colonialism even going so far as to argue about whether the prefix “post” should be added to the word Colonialism. For the sake of clarity, I will use the term Post-colonialism as it is broadly defined in Post-colonial Studies: The Key Concepts, “the effects of colonization on cultures and societies” (Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin 186). Many critics such as Bhaba, Spivak and Said define this critical theory as predominately characterized by race; however there are other critics, such as Jessica Langer, who believe that “the injustices perpetrated by colonialism, in all its forms” (152) should be considered in Post-colonial studies. I will argue that the Post-colonial concepts of Hybridity, Othering and Imperialism go beyond racial barriers and reverberate throughout the The Hunger Games.
The novel tells the story of a future in which North America has been destroyed and from the ruins a totalitarian government emerges which rules its citizens by psychological manipulation and military control. Part of this control involves the Games, a tool of repression to remind the population of how much control the government has over their lives, a punishment for the previous rebellion of the Peripheral Districts against the Capitol of Panem, a Metropolitan type of Mother-country. Each year one male and one female between the ages of twelve to eighteen from each of the twelve Districts is chosen as a tribute to participate in a horrifying gladiatorial game, fought to the death and televised nation-wide for the purpose of entertainment. The winner of the District will bring prizes (specifically food) and honor back to their home. The story centers on the protagonist Katniss Everdeen from District Twelve, one of the poorest, in all of the country.
Hybridity in The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay was a result of breeding between the jabberjay, a bird created to spy on the Districts, which bred with the mockingbird and created the hybrid bird, the mockingjay. The character of Katniss Everdeen is symbolically based on a hybrid. According to author Suzanne Collins,
She is a girl who never should have existed. The reason she does is she came from District 12… which creates an environment in which she develops…the girl who … learns to be a hunter…is a survivalist…along with that goes a degree of independent thinking...she can keep...