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Essay Samples > Book Review > Survival Skills
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Survival Skills

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The Hunger Games is a book written by Suzanne Collins in 2008. It is a dystopian novel that envisions a North American person in future. Here, the person lives in a country divided into twelve distinct districts. These districts are ruled over by the privileged class comprising the persons of the Capitol. In the early years, the districts had insurgencies against their dictatorial rulers. When the uprising failed the Capitol had to forcefully introduce brutal and barbaric punishment for the districts to remind them of their position in the society. A teenage boy and girl is chosen randomly every year from each district and sent to the Capitol to participate in the hunger games. This is clearly seen when the narrator says, “…each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate.”(Collins 18). For assured livelihood, participant in the games must have certain qualities that will help him or her to win. Katniss makes use of her skills in the hunger games for her survival. This paper analyzes survival skills as a means to an end in hunger games and for the people in that society.

“Hunger games” is a reality show where all contestants are derelict in a vigilantly controlled environment and left to fight until death. This is specifically done to entertain the Capitol’s populace. This is seen when a commoner says, “…Taking kids from our districts and forcing them to kill one another while we watch - this is the Capitol's way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion.”(Collins 18). She goes on to show how the ordinary people live at the mercies of the capitol. She says, “Whatever words they use, the real message is clear... you lift a hand, we will destroy every last of you the same way we did in District Thirteen.”(Collins 19). In certain districts, it is considered a privilege to participate in hunger games. The honor of winning provides sufficient pride for the youth to volunteer to participate in the game. However, in district 12, the poorest district, participation in the games is equivalent to a death sentence because participants from the district have no strength to fight in the game. Therefore, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her little sister’s place in the games. With the help of the only surviving winner in district 12, a drunk known as Hamytch, and fellow winner Peeta, Katniss has to use all her learnt survival skills to engage and fight to win, in the 74th hunger games. Therefore, the hunger game is based on the survival skills of the participants to win the game (Collins 23).

Suzanne paced up the novel devoting almost half the book to the preparations and events that happen before the start of games. She creates a link that exists between the reader and the main characters as they participate in the events in the novel, before the humiliating effect of the games. The author has used a simplistic structure for the reader she has used with a simple sentence structure, and little characterization that goes beyond the central characters in the novel. This way, she has ensured that she has entirely moral ambiguity is entirely, with characters either being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The main character in the novel Katniss is strong and a rough person. However, she is also a vulnerable heroine. She is indeed a stimulating combination for a female YA heroine, in the novel (Collins 20).

The Hunger Games does not address savagery or murder. It is about insolence. Katniss volunteers herself, because she is eager to safeguard the life of her younger sister Prim, whose name has been chosen from the lottery. She says, “…I could not let that happen to Prim.” (Collins 27). This shows that the game has turned to a survival for the fittest struggle where the strong and tactful survive. This is evident from the start of the games until the end where the strongest becomes the winner. Katniss does not volunteer to participate in the game because she is sure of winning. Rather she hates the games, the philosophies of the Capitol and the way the game is conducted. She participates in the game because she knows she has better survival skills compared to her sister’s survival skills. Therefore, she enters into the game not only to save her sister’s life but also to redeem her life through winning the game. This makes her a hero (Collins 28).

All the participants in the hunger games must have certain skills that will help them through to the end of the game. It in this sense that Katniss sought the services of the only surviving winner of the hunger games in her district. She wants to learn as many skills as possible that would enable her participate successfully in the hunger games.  As the games start towards the middle of the book, the participants from each district engage in the games with all the psych they have so that they can win the game. Katniss is an avid hunter. She makes use of her hunting skills to kill the other contestants. This is evident when the Gale says, “Katniss, It’s Just hunting. You’re the best hunter I know.” (Collins 40).

The author of the novel has created the scenes such that there is very little horror shown by the contestants as they boldly kill their fellow participants. Some of the characters depicted as ‘good’ characters do not hesitate in killing their opponents with the means available at their disposal.

Katniss is the good girl who is subtle at the start of the games. For instance, Effie says, “at leastyou two have decent manners...” (Collins 44) referring to Katniss and Peeta. She drops an insect nest on the heads of other participants so that insects can bite them and kill them because of swelling up. She also destroys the food of the other contestants, so they can starve, weaken and die. Her district companion Peeta is also good as the games start. However, he starts killing innocent contestants in an indirect way and later directly. Katniss also kills in a similar way. She is also intelligent and tactful; she knows when to use her intelligence. She acquires as much knowledge as possible that enables her to survive in the games and to rebel against the capitol (Collins 46).

The participants act as if they have no feelings or regard for life. They kill without emotion. The game is a bargain for life where the life of the weak is taken by the strong.  The readers would have expected that there could be so much more emotion attached to the grisly circumstances and the dreadful acts that the participants were forced to do. However, it is a falling in terms of morality and happens in a dramatic way. This shows the heartlessness of the dictatorial rulers, the capitol. Survival is seen a bizarre coincidence to the central theme of the novel; that is rebellion against authority. This is seen when Katniss spends most of her time in the killing the other competitors. As required by the Capitol, all the competitors in the competition are manipulated and exploited to do things they would not do at will. Katniss clearly begins to rebel against the Capitol in the final act as the game ends. In addition, this initiates a sense that that it is building the impetus for the next book in the series. The competitors fight and manipulate other competitors just to secure their lives while the capitol rejoices in seeing the young ones killing themselves mercilessly. After, Katniss secures a chance for survival, she then rebels against the capitol. This is also a survival skill in the sense that if she could not kill the others, she would have been killed even before the start of the game (Collins 56).

Survival does not only occur in the hunger games only. Most of the districts in that society live in poverty. The book describes District 12, also known as Seam as, “…usually crawling with coal miners heading out to the morning shift at this hour. Men and women with hunched shoulders, swollen Knuckles, many who have long since stopped trying to scrub.” (Collins 4). Therefore, these districts must do anything that assures them of survival. For Katniss as a protagonist in the novel, survival means hunting and selling food even when it is illegal. She must also take care of her family comprising of her sister and mother. The District where Katniss lives in has a problem associated with lack of food and water because of the poverty that is evident in every aspect of District 12. This scenario leads to the death of many citizens because of hunger and disease. Therefore, survival becomes a key subject for everyone and comes before comfort (Collins 6).

Survival starts from the societal level before the games. The capitol itself had to ensure that it manipulates the ordinary citizens and ensure that they remain in a state of abject poverty so that they do not form uprisings against them. They have ensured that they mistreat and discriminate them to the extent that they can only fight against each other (Collins 57).

In conclusion, hunger games presents an atmosphere full of poverty, diseases, mistreatment and manipulation of the weaker in society. The capitol that controls and rulers over the population devised a way to kill people by establishing a game where children are randomly chosen from every district. The hunger games turns into a battle for survival where skills are the most essential and needed resource in the game. Like Katniss, those who have the best skill earn survival. 

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