Power Imbalance in ‘The Hunger Games’

Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy was published in the years 2008-2009. It is a fictional dystopian story it revolves around the lives of Katniss Everdeen and her family. Set in a post-apocalyptic nation called Panem, it captures the conflict between the rich capitol against its poverty stricken 12 districts. The history of the nation goes that the 13 districts were in war against the capitol. And after the Capitol’s victory over the 13 districts, the capitol starts an annual survival reality show wherein the districts competed against each other for a yearly supply of food. The contestants were chosen by the capitol and were usually children from each district. Hunger Games is basically a survival show where children are to kill each other to win victory for their district. This survival game takes place in an enclosed space named as the arena and the game is recorded and broadcasted live for the viewers of the capitol who enjoy seeing these children kill each other in combat.

The most obvious power imbalance is between the two conflicting divisions. The capitol is luxurious, everyone lives a grand life filled with events and marvellous technology. On the other hand, the 12 districts are in utter poverty without even food for survival. The rich are perpetually rich, while the poor are perpetually poor. The ignorance of the rich is even more highlighted when Katniss observes that the people in Capitol take pills to puke out their food so that they can eat more. They spend money lavishly on clothing items and ornate jewelleries while the children in the Arena have to earn their admiration to be sent sponsored food and gifts.

“We had to save you because you’re the mockingjay, Katniss,” says Plutarch. “While you live, the revolution lives.”

When Katniss volunteers to join the games in the place of her sister, she takes on an important journey and unknowingly ends up becoming the face of resistance against the capitol. After Rue’s death, Katniss treads carefully yet vengefully in the Arena. She does everything that it takes to survive and bring food for her district. When Peta and her end up being the final two standing, they threaten to commit suicide together instead of killing each other. This essentially serves as a threat to against the Capitol’s power because indirectly, she showed control over their tyranny. The capitol game makers as well as the citizens are ruthless and sadistic. The more the children in the Arena suffered, the more they enjoyed and the more they sent items to the children. By actively fighting and resisting against this sort of injustices, her actions set forth a chain reaction of events including a full-scale revolt which ultimately leads to the downfall of the Capitol dictatorship.  

“President Snow says he’s sending a message. Well I have one for him. You can torture us and bomb and burn our districts to the ground, but do you see that?” One of the cameras follows where I point to the planes burning on the roof of a warehouse across from us. “Fire is catching!” I am shouting now, determined he will not miss a word of it, “And if we burn, you burn with us!”


The power dynamic between the two warring units might seem like dystopia, but on a closer look we see that our world isn’t too far off. There’s a clear instance of hegemony and power imbalance between the weaker sections of a society and the more powerful sections. Despite being a young adult fictional story, The Hunger Games strikes a deeper chord with relation to the injustices happening all over the world.  

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