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The Hunger Games: In Defeating Gender Stereotypes

1091 words - 5 pages

She stands up, tired and stiff from the struggle, but she knows in her heart that it is all over. She looks up into the eyes of the man who was with her through it all and sees something this time. Could it be true? Is it possible that she has fallen for the man who was once her adversary? The Hunger Games, starring Josh Hutcherson and Jennifer Lawrence, is a great example of overcoming gender stereotypes. The scene is set in a post-apocalyptic, authoritarian, dystopia named Panem, where each major industry has been divided into 12 isolated districts. The regime is ruled by President Snow, who controls the masses with fear, propaganda, and the annual Hunger Games. Every year on the day of the Reaping, each district chooses one male and one female from age 12 to 18 to fight to the death in an arena of violence. This is done to ensure that the districts will stay loyal and that the populace will never rise against The Capitol. The Hunger Games is unique in that it both challenges and affirms Deborah Tannen’s values of “intimacy and independence” by showing that women are capable of possessing qualities that are usually associated with men, and by depicting a woman who possesses an underlying need for intimacy that is overshadowed by her independent spirit.
Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is portrayed as a teenage girl with a rough upbringing in which she is often forced to assume dominance in her family. She lives in District 12, where the citizens are forced to work in coal mines, live in prison-like conditions, and must scrounge to survive. At the age of 11, Katniss’s father dies. This is a pivotal moment in her life, as she is forced to take care of her family. Every day, she cares for her sick mother and young sister by cooking and cleaning. While these are roles that are sometimes attributed to women (rather than children), Katniss also bucks the stereotype by hunting for wild game, an act that is illegal due to President Snow’s efforts to impoverish and control the people. Katniss ignores the regime’s hunting restrictions, develops a commanding skill with the bow and arrow, and becomes a skilled woodsman. In doing so, she not only provides food for the table but also a source of income in the form of extra meat that she sells at the black market. Caring for one’s family at the age of 11 is not usually thrust upon young women however the circumstances force her to step up and act responsibly. Katniss is the sole provider for her family, and her contributions hold the family together. By providing for her family, Katniss overcomes traditional gender roles.
Not only is Katniss a provider, but she is also a protector. On the day of the Reaping for the 76th Hunger Games, Katniss’s sister, Primrose, is randomly selected as the female tribute from District 12. Without even thinking, Katniss volunteers to take her place, knowing she will probably not survive. Katniss’s instinct to protect her family comes from years of being the...

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