This is not my most important point by a long stretch, but you’re the first person I’ve ever see refer to it as poorly written. Makes me wonder what it is that you read…
The fact that the characters are forced to participate is precisely why it works as a critique. If they weren’t forced to participate, the message would be completely different (there are, of course, many options depending on the specifics of the plot choices). The fact that the characters were put into a situation that requires them to act violently to ensure their survival is precisely how we see characters wrestling with issues of morality. Katniss thinks about how killing a person is exactly like killing an animal, but simultaneously considers the fact that it’s clearly different. In District 12, she hunts to stay alive. In the arena, she hunts to stay alive. The novel asks you to consider the similarities and differences and the moral choices of each. Additionally, it leads one to wonder what it takes for this barbaric ritual to be continued and what it takes to put an end to tyranny. In many, many ways, it’s a more modern and youth-oriented update to Jackson’s “The Lottery.”
If characters weren’t coerced to participate, it would be a different story entirely. I’m not sure what lens you’re reading this through…
(And, on a related but separate note, as an 8th grade CA teacher, I have spent three years discussing these books with my students and they are an excellent series for getting reluctant readers to dig deep into literature and ask the big questions.)
If you’d read any of her other work (see the Gregor the Overlander series) you’d know that the Hunger Games series was right in line with her work stylistically. She wasn’t just throwing things at the wall and hoping something would stick.
More importantly, you completely misinterpret two important pieces of the story. Since Katniss’s father died, she has had to be the leader of her family. Her mother was incapable and her sister was too young. She was always the strong one. When she volunteered for the Hunger Games, that was another example of her doing what had to be done to help her family. When she told her sister to work hard in school, etc, don’t think of it as an important piece of advice, per se, so much as Katniss trying to be stoic. She (and everyone else) knew that she was going to die and she was trying only to remain strong for her mother and sister. If you treat characters like real people with real motivations, it becomes much more clear why they act how they do.
So far as the violence goes, you again misunderstand. A large quantity of violence is not the same as the glorification violence. The characters who you are supposed to sympathize with (namely Katniss, Peeta and Rue) abhor the violence. They all know that the violence is in place as a way to keep the Districts in check–to remind them of the control the Capital has over them, so much that the Capital can force the children of the Districts to fight to the death annually. Indeed, the final obstacle Katniss must overcome is that the Capital demands that only one Tribute may survive, while she refuses to kill Peeta. When Katniss and Peeta nearly commit double suicide rather than having to fight each other, it is a great affront to the Capital because they were no longer willing to fight for their amusement. The violence is forced upon the characters by the Capital. It is absolutely not a “fascist heroes tale,” as you put it. It is emphatically the opposite: the series is about the power a committed group of individuals can wield against a fascist state with seemingly limitless power.
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