Tuesday, May 13, 2014
In my final blog entry of my first ever blog, I feel as though I learned a lot in this class. I love to read, and The Hunger Games trilogy is one of my favorites so being able to dedicate three hours a week of class time to the discussion of something I am passionate about is a great experience. I feel as through the guest speakers brought so much to the class. Dr. Raley's lecture inspired me to take her Gender and Society course, which I am super excited about. This class has allowed me to interact with professors from different disciplines and that is invaluable. It opened my eyes to so many different fields of study which helps me when looking at my own, and I feel as though that is the purpose of an SIS. The class was well taught and I had fun with my classmates, but I wish there was more open and unstructured conversation. One of my favorite parts about being in the honors program is interacting with my peers and bouncing ideas off of them. It is a great feeling to be challenged intellectually, but I feel as though there was not enough self-led conversations to allow for that. I also think that while the reading offered insight into the series, they could have been better. I know that it was difficult to find scholarly works that supported the texts, so I feel as though they were useful. I hope that this class can be offered many times in the future for students to appreciate The Hunger Games like I have been able to.
I felt as though Katie's presentation was particularly interesting. I am an Irish-American; I have family that still lives in Ireland and we celebrate our heritage often. The struggles of the Irish people are extremely dear to my heart because they were experienced by my own family members. In the early 1900s, my grandfather and grandmother's families came over and settled in Queens, New York because they could not provide for their growing families and they needed new opportunities. When Katie was talking about the struggles of the Irish people and showing pictures of families that were starving, I pictured the faces of my family and what they went through. Katie's descriptions of the famine made it very easy to relate to The Hunger Games. The hunger experienced in the districts means that people do not live healthy and prosperous lives, and they often die young from hunger. The lack of assistance from the government is another connection. Overall, I feel as though Katie did a great presentation.
The nature of evil is an interesting topic to discuss when looking at the world today. I sincerely believe that Collins wrote the books thinking that there was potential for this dystopian society in the future. Personally, I feel as though evil can be defined as the absence of good, because when good people stand by and allow even to be committed, they are equally responsible. Mr. Rubin Sztajer mentioned this during his lecture on the Holocaust. Being a Holocaust survivor, Szatajer has first hand experience with evil. The atrocities committed in Europe during this period of time were witnessed by millions of people that did not speak out against it. By choosing to sit in silence while millions of people were persecuted for no reason other than their religion, evil was allowed to run rampant. Szatjer told us about his sister that cannot speak of the things she went through. He also told us that he chooses to speak out about his sufferings because he wants to prevent another tragedy like the Holocaust by educating people and teaching them to recognize the signs and speak out against evil. Dr. Josh Baron came in and spoke to the class about evil as well. He discussed what it means to be evil in terms of ethics and his lecture lined up with Mr. Szatajer's lecture. In The Hunger Games, the people of Panem watch evil unimaginable acts without acting against the government. Once Katniss provides an outlet for the citizens of Panem, they can finally speak out against the evil, and prevent it from happening again.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Children of Men was an extremely interesting movie to watch when analyzing it through the perspective of the Hunger Games. In the movie, the people of the world can no longer reproduce and the youngest man in the world, baby Diego, has just died. The world has descended into chaos and anarchy because the government is detaining people and attempting to deport them, and the future is bleak. This is similar to the Hunger Games because of the oppressive regime and the fact that people were moved into their districts and forced to stay there with no potentiality of mobility. The entire movie itself involves a lot of death and destruction, much like the Hunger Games. We are then introduced to Key, the one woman who miraculously conceived. She is attempting to get to the Human Project, an apparent safe haven where she would be able to keep her baby safe from the government and other rebel groups. The baby represents a new hope for the people, and like in the Hunger Games, hope plays a major role in turning around the dystopian society. In Children of Men, the government does not play as much of an active role. Snow is clearly the charismatic ruler of Panem, but there is no clear leader in Children of Men. The military plays an active role in maintaining some level of compliance, but the rebels are well armed and have a lot of support from the public. While the Hunger Games has a resolute ending, Children of Men ends on a cliffhanger, and we never really find out what happened to the baby. While the movie and the books have many similarities, they are also distinctly different types of dystopias.
Dr. Mazeroff’s lecture on the hero’s journey brought up some interesting questions based on the Hunger Games. As Dr. Mazeroff pointed out, there are other hero’s journeys that more clearly follow procedure but Katniss definitely tranforms during the books. When analyzing Katniss, it is very clear to see that she matures and changes throughout the series. Katniss has always been selfless, but the level of her selflessness increases as she goes on her journey. In my opinion, Katniss’ story is a coming of age story coupled with a hero’s journey. Katniss goes through some highly relatable struggles that most people go through, like finding their place in their family and falling in love. The hero’s journey aspect of her story comes into play because of the dystopian society she lives in and the situations she is forced to act in, like the games and the rebellion. When Prim’s name is called, Katniss unknowingly makes the decision to start her hero’s journey. She then goes on to rebel against the Capitol, again somewhat unknowingly. Katniss’ intentions were never to cause a rebellion, but rather keep Peeta alive. Snow understands this on some level, but the people of the districts use Katniss as their mockingjay, and as Snow says, fear is stronger than hope. Throughout the rebellion, Katniss takes on a leadership role and she eventually kills Coin in what some people saw as a lapse of judgment, but because of her journey Katniss was able to make the right call. At the end of the series, Katniss completes her journey by returning home, having changed herself and her world around her.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
In my opinion, feminism is an immensely prominent theme in the Hunger Games trilogy. The fact that Katniss is female changes the conversations surrounding the books. When JK Rowling was writing the Harry Potter series, people discussed what an amazing story she was telling and how important the themes of friendship and leadership were but there were no conversations surrounding gender. Collins caused a new conversation to take place that made people discuss what it means to be a leader. Dr. Raley’s lecture on gender also raised some interesting points surrounding gender. All too often, gender becomes such an important part of everything that takes place on a daily basis. Gender changes how we interact with each other and how we view each other. In the books, Katniss is described as being a relatively small, yet strong and quick, female. Because of her appearance, she probably would not have been considered a threat had she not been given such a high number before the games started. Katniss continues to assert her dominance and her legitimacy as a threat throughout the novels, which ultimately leads to her ability to lead the districts through the rebellion. I feel as though Collins did an excellent job presenting Katniss as a person capable of great things, rather than a woman striving to fill a role that could easily be filled by a man. Another example that comes to mind when discussing female leaders is that of Tris from the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Tris leads her society through a rebellion and the fact that she is female is never a reason for questioning her authority or potential to change things. I hope that heroines like Katniss and Tris can pave the way for more female leaders and allow for a time in which the gender of a leader/hero is no longer a topic of conversation.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Dr. Telhami was an incredibly knowledgeable and articulate speaker and he made some extremely interesting points about the Arab Spring that were relatable to the Hunger Games series. One important point that Dr. Telhami made was that when asking people how they identified, they first identified as Muslim or Arab before associating themselves with their specific country. While I do not think that people of Panem would list themselves as part of a large community first, they did see the similarities between the oppression of all of the people in the districts which allowed them to band together and rebel against the Capitol. Another important point that was made was the fact that the Information Revolution allowed for the people of the Middle East to communicate much more effectively and allowed for a lot of the rebellions to take place. In the Hunger Games series, the communication methods are much more subtle but they rallied the districts together. For example, Katniss’ wedding dress that turned into a mockingjay dress showed the people in the district that she was their beacon of hope, which in turn helped create the spark which lit the fire of rebellion in the districts. Dr. Telhami also discussed how the people of this area would become frustrated with the regimes in control and they would work together to rebel against the government and create a system more conducive to the life they desired, even though it took them many years to do so. The question often asked is: why didn’t the districts rebel sooner? I feel as though the answer lies in a statement made by President Snow, that the only thing stronger than fear is hope. Before Katniss, and before the Information Age in the Arab world, hope was not as prevalent and people did not have a rallying point that allowed for rebellion. This is the most important similarity between the Arab Spring and the Hunger Games.
Appalachia is known for its music and dance. The culture of Appalachia is rich and allows the people of that area to express themselves when there is no other outlet. The importance of communication through song is also relevant in the Hunger Games. The people of District 12 are oppressed and unable to share their opinions on all matters political or social, much like the people of Appalachia. Through songs like the Hanging Tree, parallels between the two regions become clear. In Appalachia many years ago, many people came from all over and watched hangings, much like the song depicts. John Hardy was a black man that was hanged and over 6,000 people came to watch, when only 300 people lived in Welch, the town in which he was hanged. Also, through dance the people of both Appalachia and District 12 are able to share in a cultural activity that unites them as a community. Song and dance are traditionally passed down through the oral tradition, which allows for people that are illiterate to contribute to their culture and society. Often times people in Appalachia did not, and still do not, receive the level of education that they deserve. In District 12, because of the oppression of the districts by the Capitol, the people do not receive an education so the ability to pass on traditions and stories allows for a continuation of the culture. District 12 and Appalachia are similar on a level more than just location; they share the same level of appreciation for their culture and traditions.