Breaking Away From The Injustices of Society
Sarah Yuen, Division 3, College freshman #ws18e-s1d3

Imagine a dystopian nation named Panem where natural disasters plague the planet’s surface and upper-class citizens watch their own people fight to their deaths as a form of entertainment. In Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, the Capitol forces each of Panem's twelve working-class districts to appoint two innocent teenagers to participate in a macabre, televised brawl called the Hunger Games. Before the annual event begins, one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen from each of the twelve district are selected in a merciless lottery system. Afterwards, the unfortunate twenty-four children are forced to compete in an arena until all but one winner stands. Under these gruesome circumstances, most people would shy away from partaking in such an absurd diversion, but Katniss Everdeen defies these expectations. In fact, when her younger sister Prim is chosen to represent District 12, Katniss Everdeen’s first instinct is to “volunteer as tribute.” Her ability to take initiative demonstrates an undeniable sense of love and devotion for her family. Ultimately, Katniss Everdeen is a character whose loyalty to her loved ones, resourceness in her surrounding space and nonconformist ideals are inspirational to many young women, including myself. It is for these reasons that I find myself in a position where I would want to be Katniss Everdeen.

Katniss Everdeen’s allegiance to her family is one of her most captivating characteristics. Throughout the novel, she proves to be a tenacious and resourceful sixteen-year-old protagonist who takes responsibility for her mother and her younger sister, Prim. Her father dies in a mine accident, which leaves her with the sole responsibility of taking care of the family. As a result, she uses the hunting and foraging skills her father taught her to become the assiduous primary provider of the household. In this sense, she is fearless when it comes to pursuing animals with her bow and arrow. Everdeen’s indifference to hunting animals is hugely impacted by the human suffering and deaths she has witnessed in her own life. She is very callous describing these scenes, citing the details without elaborating on her emotions about them, almost as if the memories are engrained in her. In a certain way, what sets Katniss Everdeen apart from the rest of Panem is her strength to deal with her living situation. I admire her ability to adapt and cope with the severity of her family tragedy without having any emotional disdain. Katniss’s role as caretaker is most conspicuous with her younger sister. She treats Prim with a gentleness that is not exhibited with anyone else, and she admits that she would protect her sister at all costs. Despite her exterior bravado, I can recognize a more nurturing and affectionate side of the main protagonist, especially when she volunteers to replace Prim in the Hunger Games. The main protagonist’s sacrifice to save a family member is a courageous act that resonated with me and one move that I hope to carry on in my own life.

Katniss’s backstory provides more insight into her character’s resourcefulness. From the beginning, it is evident that she is willing to commit to providing food for her family, demonstrating tremendous inner vigor and clout. By displaying a high degree of efficiency, she also proves to be an intelligent girl, as these traits undoubtedly aid her in the televised battle. The Hunger Games commence, but Katniss is incredibly apathetic towards the deaths of the other tributes. From years of practice, Katniss is able to resourcefully set multiple snares and traps with the wire she finds in her backpack and catches a rabbit. With her experience in hunting and foraging, she is able to navigate through the thick forest with her agile feet. Moreover, her knowledge in horticulture is beneficial as it helps her find the proper nutrition that is needed to survive the fierce terrain. These facets are excellent assets that reflect her endurance and strength. If I could become someone as strategic as Katniss, I would be able to survive in such grim regions with the strategic knowledge of gathering foods and shooting arrows. Despite her destitute upbringings, I admire her resourceful and judicious abilities in the arena. Although she may lack an affluent financial background, she makes up for it with her survival techniques. While it is obvious that the other tributes are menacing, I believe that the greater threat may simply be living in a foreign climate without any shelter or food easily accessible. However, Katniss Everdeen is able to swiftly manage this threat with her mastery of the arrow and knowledge of nature.

A maverick among the rest of the tributes, Katniss epitomizes the ideal heroine with her nonconformist beliefs. After her ally Rue dies, she decorates her body with flowers as an act of defiance against the Capitol. The act is a stunt to justify to the Capitol that the tributes are more than just a pawn in a game. In their society, the Hunger Games dehumanize the participants. They essentially objectify the tributes, treating them as commodities rather than recognizing them as people, so that the upper-class citizens of Panem feel entertained and not appalled by their deaths. Instead of allowing Panem to capitalize on their misery, Katniss highlights Rue’s humanity by forcing the audience to memorialize Rue’s spirit. By doing so, the audience can internalize how agonizing her departure is for the main protagonist. Katniss Everdeen’s rebellious streak is a testament to how humanity should not allow be confined by a tyrannical set of rules or beliefs. Similarly, I feel that my ideals align with Katniss’s; as a society, we should not feel like our ideas should be suppressed in order to feel safe in our homes. In other words, Katniss Everdeen shows young women, such as myself, to be courageous and to stand up for our own set of beliefs.

Katniss performs the greatest act of rebellion against the Capitol when she has the idea for her and her District 12 counterpart Peeta to sacrifice their lives and eat the poisonous berries in the arena. When Peeta and Katniss are the only tributes left in the arena, she realizes the creators of the game did not intend to let both her and Peeta survive, which suggests they intentionally manufactured an entertaining fight to the death between them. Nevertheless, the original plan is impeded by Katniss’s scheme for she and Peeta to eat the berries. The idea involving the berries backfires on the Capitol’s attempt for an epic ending. The dramatic fight scene that was intended to provide entertainment would have become too emotionally charged as a result, turning the Games from amusement to a real-life tragedy. More specifically, it makes them look as if they’ve lost control. Fortunately, the Capitol realizes their mistake and give into Katniss’s scheme; both of them leave the game as winners. The subtle actions Katniss drops during her time in the Hunger Games demonstrates that the people of Panem cannot and will not be oppressed by the Capitol, which further showcases her individualist views.

My desire to emulate Katniss Everdeen’s character stems from her impact as a tribute in the arena. It’s important to realize that Everdeen did not have any advantages that the other tributes had. She started from the bottom of the society, surviving off what the forest had to offer. Even with a tragedy that plagued the relationship and happiness of her family, she did not allow that to destroy the strength and resolve that she still had within her. Katniss Everdeen truly has the heroine personality that I aspire to have. When she first entered the Hunger Games, her only mission was to get back out of the game and hopefully return to District 12 to provide for her family once again. Her mindset reflects her selflessness and loyalty to her loved ones. Despite having such a simple goal, she manages to shake the Capitol’s control. Her rebellious nature challenges the rules that the Capitol had tried so hard to instill. Time after time, Katniss proves that she is more than just a feeble teenager; she is the face of a new revolution. By making the simple gestures of decorating Rue with flowers and attempting to eat poisonous berries, Katniss shows not only a side of ingenuity, but also a side of valiant bravery. If it were by choice, I would choose to be Katniss Everdeen as she possesses an ardent sense of responsibility, an incessantly determined mind and an inspirational amount of unorthodox beliefs.
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