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Hunger Games - up to and including Mockingjay so spoiler warnings.

(43 Posts)
LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 10:21:46

I wondered what others thought of the books/films? I've just finished reading.

I was reading up on all the different points of view on the net. It looks as if some people feel that it's all quite feministy (and I do love that katniss is shown as having body hair and finding it weird and unnatural it's removed in the Capitol, though it pisses me off that Collins doesn't quite follow through and still has a four-year-old whose favourite colour is pink ... for me those two things don't quite match up). Obviously, other people say it's not that feministy, and it's not enough katniss is tough, because she's essentially shown taking over the male role in her family, and interacting primarily with strong men.

I also read this, which I love:

I do really like the relationship between Katniss and Peeta right up to Mockingjay. I am pissed off by the ending though and I'm quite disturbed no-one I've read seems to have picked up on it. Loads of people don't like that she ends up with Peeta more or less by default, because he shows up, and loads of people don't like that she ends up with children because he wanted them so much. I've seen a lot of comments it's all appropriately bleak because Collins wanted to show that in war, there are no 'happy' endings, only relatively happy.

But. Katniss ends up with Peeta, who's been the person she can trust not to be remotely patriarchial (cf. movie girlfriend), after he's been brainwashed into seeing her as a threat and wanting to kill her. And there's this disturbingly casual acknowledgement that every now and again, he still wants to kill her but it passes. So, effectively, she is living with the manifestation of the patriarchy in the form of the 'Nice Guy', right? What with all our 'Not all men' threads, it really hit home to me. When we talk about statistics for male violence, people keep asking us if we believe our husbands/partners would be the one man in 27 or whatever it is, who might do that. And of course we say we can't know, but someone is living with that man.

Is that just me? The more I think about it the more I find it really disturbing. I would like to think Collins is making some kind of clever point about not evading the patriarchy, but the fact so many people think it's a happy ending (or happy-ish), bothers me.

(And yes, yes, this is light relief as it's 'only a book', but maybe we could do with it!)

allhailqueenmab Fri 30-May-14 10:59:21

That bothered me too.
I think it's kind of depicted as an old war wound - for Peeta. people are never the same after the war. The scars live on. But the acceptance that Katniss must live with and deal with this, the same way as if her husband had a limp, is disturbing

TerrariaMum Fri 30-May-14 11:06:06

I am really glad you started this thread because I hadn't noticed that. But you are spot on.

One difficulty I had with Katniss is that she is a Strong Female Character which often seems to mean a rejection of any femininity at all. Contrast this with Merida in Brave who shoots and rides in a gorgeous green dress (which I really want).

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 11:08:54

Yes, I feel that, mab. I mean, I know it's a huge, very real concern in the US that a lot of people are returning from conflicts and have not had proper therapy, and they are living with mental war wounds of exactly this kind.

But I don't really think the book quite brought out the implications of it.

terraria - yes, I sort of agree. Although I reckon the flowers with Rue are a traditional expression of femininity, aren't they? And in the books, she is musical, which can be a feminine quality (though I know it's from her father).

TerrariaMum Fri 30-May-14 11:34:57

Ah,except I believe the flowers were something that was a District 11 cultural thing weren't they? So that was a bit different.

Also, if it takes ages for me to respond, tis because DD2 wants to climb everything and chooses to do it every time I bf DS plus DD1 keeps waking DD2 up from her naps.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 11:38:37

Ahhh, ok, yes. True.

And sorry you're child-wrangling!

I reckon, though, to an audience watching the film, even if it is a cultural thing, it comes across as a message saying 'it's good to be compassionate; it's ok to want to make something beautiful for someone'.

I do feel slightly bummed they didn't really do Peeta's gorgeous cakes at all, on that note - so he's a baker but he only seems to make burnt bread or heave sacks of flour around. But there we go.

In the books, Katniss is touched her mother gives her one of her beautiful dresses to go to the Reaping, but that doesn't really come across in the films.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Fri 30-May-14 11:40:53

Incidentally Peeta does have a limp grin

I hated the end. If she should have ended up with anyone it should have been Gale, but then how could she be with him after he made that bomb... So she should have been left alone at the end of the book. Wouldn't have hurt to leave it open ended for readers to decide what happens to her.

Realistically she would have ended up like Haymitch after everything that happened to her.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 11:44:21

(Ok, this is not a post I want to write, but we'll blame the demon on my left shoulder. I have been disconcerted through the films that I think there's a certain amount of chemistry between Haymitch and Katniss. So I guess I should be thankful for small mercies they didn't go there.)

Yeah, I think realistically she would have ended up very broken and probably alone.

I don't mind there being a slightly improbably happy ending. I just didn't buy that this one was even happy, if you see what I mean? I actually found it quite chilling. And it plays up to that awful 'all a violent man needs is the love of a good woman' stereotype. Yeuch.

BertieBotts Fri 30-May-14 11:45:24

I read it at the end that she was so damaged by her experience that she couldn't share her life with anybody, except Peeta because he had been through literally all of it with her and he understood. So they kind of needed each other. It's been a long time since I read Mockingjay though and I do remember being a bit disappointed/unsure about their relationship at the end but I don't remember reading that he still wanted to kill her every now and again.

As an aside is it really relevant if the author's 4yo loves pink? There's at least one MNer whose four year old son loves/loved pink, surely as long as it's not the only option she gives her daughter it's not really an issue?

I liked that the actress who plays Katniss said she refused to go on a diet for the role and instead worked on making her body look strong, she said she didn't want girls to watch and say "I want to be thin like Katniss".

BertieBotts Fri 30-May-14 11:46:09

Xposted smile

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 11:49:15

bertie - I didn't know it was because the author's DD liked pink. I don't see that being an issue at all. There's nothing wrong with liking pink, and it'd be perfectly possible that in the Hunger Games universe pink isn't especially associated with femininity. It's just that it is in ours, and to me, when she could so easily have chosen to make the little girl's favourite colour anything else, it seemed a bit like lazy writing. Not a biggie, though.

I love Jennifer Lawrence on body image issues.

In the books, it says 'There are still moments when he clutches the back of a chair and hangs on until the flashbacks are over'. So it really is slipped in there, and I guess you could argue these are different flashbacks, and just 'trauma' rather than the implanted flashbacks. I'm still not keen on it.

PourquoiTuGachesTaVie Fri 30-May-14 11:51:10

Haymitch should have ended up with Effie if anyone IMO but I think the films can't quite get the Haymitch/katniss relationship right the way the books do. Both Haymitch and katniss react to things the same way, they have very similar personalities so they work well together. Unfortunately this leads to some people thinking there is "chemistry" between them when there isn't supposed to me, at least not that kind of chemistry.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 11:51:15

Oh, hang on, did I misunderstand?

When I wrote the author has a four-year-old who likes pink, I mean she has one in the book. It's Gale's little sister. It's a really minor point, it's just I reckon she picked pink by association with our world.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 11:52:10

pourquoi - oh, that explains it very well. And yes, I do know there really isn't meant to be chemistry there! In the books he's quite a bit older and uglier, too.

Youdontneedacriminallawyer Fri 30-May-14 11:55:35

I can't believe how seriously you're all taking this, and looking for underlying meanings in what is a children's story.

Is this why I didn't do very well in my English A Level?

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 11:56:29

I did say it's light relief!

What's wrong with looking for meanings? Some folks like it, some don't. If you don't, no worries.

OrangeMochaFrappucino Fri 30-May-14 12:08:36

Regarding the issue of children - Katniss is only resolved against having children because she is afraid of the vulnerability of loving them so much after all she has experienced - she's grown up determined not to have them because she couldn't bear to potentially offer them up to the Hunger Games one day. So I read it that actually, she did want children but didn't want to bring them into that terrible world. When she does have them, it's a healing experience and imo symbolises the hope for the future - these children can't imagine a world with the Hunger Games, so it suggests that they will never be repeated.

I thought Peeta was traumatized by his experiences but not a physical threat to Katniss. I wasn't wild about the third book in general, but I saw her relationship with Peeta as illustrating that she could afford to appreciate gentleness and kindness now that the danger had passed - rather than ending up with Gale who lived a much more violent life and had a much bleaker outlook on the world.

I also see the trilogy standing very much in contrast to Twilight in its appeal to teenage girls and it sends out a much more feminist message than that at least and the relationships are far less abusive than that of Bella and Edward.

(I'm an English teacher and I think it's prudent to be familiar with teenage literature smile )

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 12:32:34

Yeeesss ... I find that convincing psychologically, and I also found it convincing reading someone else's view on the net that, well, you do just change your mind about all sorts of things between the ages of 17 or so, and your early 30s, of course. But, but ... she's scared while she's pregnant with them.

I don't think it is clear Peeta isn't a threat. It's never made explicit he's not, and to me, that bit about having to let flashbacks pass is a picture of suppressing something. It's not 'he has to hug me until the flashbacks go'.

I am aware I am nitpicking (of course! grin). And I agree of course it is immensely better than Twilight or much else. I'm just trying to process my own sense of what's going on.

(As an aside, I find the denigrating of 'children's literature' quite odd. The Hunger Games is, amongst other things, a literalisation of Aristotle's theory of tragedy, and part of what's chilling about it is it makes us think about why something 'entertaining' as a literary concept might be appalling in real life. I doubt most teenagers 'get' that one consciously, but it's definitely there.)

BertieBotts Fri 30-May-14 12:36:24

Oh! smile Sorry I thought you were talking about her own daughter. I thought it was odd grin

BertieBotts Fri 30-May-14 12:38:54

Oh I love picking apart stories. I could debate the finer points of the parallels of racism in the Harry Potter universe for hours grin Indeed, there are conventions dedicated to doing so.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 12:40:24

grin I put it really badly!

I love picking apart stories too. I find it really absorbing.

BertieBotts Fri 30-May-14 12:41:56

And I wish my English lessons had focused on stories that I could have really been interested in. I hated analysing stuff in school but would do it for ages about Harry Potter. I remember the first time I read an essay exploring some kind of theme within the HP universe and suddenly thought "This is what they want us to do at school. So why do I find it so boring?"

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 12:46:29


I taught a class on Aristotle and tragedy with reference to Harry Potter recently. It was great fun! And they were better on Greek tragedy once they saw how the same patterns really do come up in our own popular literature. I think it's so much fun.

TerrariaMum Fri 30-May-14 12:55:58

Is compassion considered an especially feminine trait? I'm just wondering.

The irony about Jennifer Lawrence is that she got a lot of flak for not being thin enough to be Katniss.

I wonder if the pink thing is also a desire for luxury and brightness which District 12 lacks.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 30-May-14 13:03:40

I think so, often.

I like the idea of the pink being desire for luxury and brightness. I can buy that.

I saw the film first, then read the books, so inevitably I see Katniss as Lawrence. I'm glad that she's not too thin (and not shorter than Peeta, which she is in the books). I know she's meant to be badly nourished (though not as badly as other people who didn't have fresh meant), but I just can't see it being a responsible way to film it.

I think it's really interesting how decisions about the story world relate to decisions you make about what's ok to valorize for teenagers.

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