Mockingjay Discussion 13: President Hillary Coin?

For discussion point number 13, let’s take a look at the President of this brave new world dystopia, President Coin. I think her name has at least four meanings. First, the obvious. Coins are money and the money holders are the power brokers. President Coin is a story transparency for a person in charge whose priority is having and holding on to power.

Second, the scriptural. Christ is asked whether his disciples should pay taxes and he answers the question about the relationship of spiritual persons with secular power by explaining how to understand coins (Matthew 22, KJV).

15Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.16And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

17Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

18But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

22When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

In Mockingjay, the head of government and power that Katniss must answer to, who tries to kill her and does arrange the death of Prim, and whom Katniss assassinates at story’s end is named Coin because she is Caesar, the embodiment of the regime in apposition and often opposition to Christ.

Third, the word “Coin” is meant to make us think of the phrase “the flip side of the coin” which means that, though the two sides of a coin may have different images and surface meaning, they are the same thing. District 13’s power holders do not differ except in surface from the oligarchy of the Capitol. They both brain wash their citizenry to control them and both torture and wage war to maintain control and the perks of power.

Fourth, President Coin is a woman which gives us a fascinating possibility that her name is a pointer to a real world politician.

Note first that District 13 is a puritanical, sterile culture that is as far removed from the natural world and edifying community life of District 12 outside the fence and inside the wire as the Capitol is in its individual desire-driven decadence. They differ superficially — District 13, the Spartan communist-socialist technocracy where conformity is everything, the Capitol, the Athenian free-for-all in which being different is the law — but they are equally distant from human life, the difference being only in one being distant on the political left and the other being distant on the right. This complementary antagonism Ms. Collins represents in having the President of one being a man and the other side being led by a woman.

The District’s having a woman president, however, suggests that their leader is a story representation of the American woman who would be President, Hillary Clinton.

Think about it.

District 13 is a big government place of regulation and control gone mad, all of course for the greater good and everyone’s survival and safety. This has had the unfortunate and ironic consequence of crating an anti-life or sterile community unable to reproduce itself.

You cannot spell ‘Clinton’ without the letters c, o, i, and n. You don’t have to be a Limbaugh ditto-head or tea party follower to understand that Secretary Clinton is a very ambitious politician who is adamantly pro-choice or ‘anti-life,’ and that she is a “greater good” big government advocate who never saw a government program or agency she didn’t think could be expanded. An antiwar candidate in resistance to the Bush Capitol, as Secretary of State, she now is the face of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The face on the other side of the same coin? It’s a possibility. What would this tell us about Ms. Collins’ politics? I think it suggests, not that she is a Hillary Hater per se, but that she finds Republican and Democratic politicians equally distant from the reality of love and life. Katniss kills both President Snow and President Coin.

Your comments and corrections, please. Political comments not directly relevant to the subject of this thread will be deleted, no exceptions.

Comments

  1. Again — Do not make this thread into a forum for the airing of thoughts about Republicans, Democrats, or the virtues and failings of Secretary Clinton. There are plenty of other places for political discussion. This is not one of them.

    Please restrict your comments to the meaning of President Coin’s name, the subject of the thread. Anything else will be deleted.

  2. I think like in many other areas you are making the English teacher mistake of reading way too much into things.

    Will you be posting Kabala anaylses of the numbers next?

  3. It is at least as likely that you are making the nominalist’s mistake of reading a text only at its surface.

    Will you be suggesting that the books are as popular as they are because they have no greater meaning than their action-packed narrative line? Will we read your complaint offered as critique and analysis that the author has lost her way because you cannot take the time or lack the skills to reflect on a meaning not handed to you at the surface?

    Then again, we’ve already read that critique and suggestion, haven’t we? Brighten up, Sunshine! There is a lot more to these wonderfully crafted tales than you have seen thus far.

  4. I found this interesting at the very least. I viewed it first as the female/male balance or imbalance that people sometimes apply to extremes. That by giving one side the masculine face the other side was given the female. But I always enjoy being given alternate view points to think about.

    I almost wonder if Sunshine’s vitriol has a root in that she or he was invested in an ending of her/his own design that didn’t come to fruition? It seems with any series people get invested in their own agendas for the series then feel betrayed when it doesn’t happen in the way they had wanted.

  5. That’s…far-fetched, and not in a particularly thought-provoking kind of way. I don’t really buy the premise, at all: “President Coin is a woman which gives us a fascinating possibility that her name is a pointer to a real world politician.” What does that even mean? If the president was a man, then looking for a real-world politician he might be modeled after would be ludicrous, but the fact that she’s a woman makes it worthwhile? Doesn’t make much sense to me; a male figure of authority could be just as easily be based on a real-life politician; what’s more, a fictional man could be based on a real-life male politician, and vice versa, if certain other characteristics were shared.

    And as for the parallels you are seeing between Coin and Clinton (“the American woman who would be president”, by the way? She’s not the only female politician in the US! in fact, there was a different woman running for vice-president just in the last elections, as I recall), well, I’m not sure what they are based on. Being pro-choice (the equation with anti-life that you make is controversial, to say the least, and a little disingenuous considering Clinton’s explicit stance of “abortion should be safe, legal AND RARE”) is hardly the same thing as having fertility problems on a societal level…especially as the latter is not a political view that Coin holds but rather a social fact of her society (one which, for all we know, might predate her presidency). As far as I know, Coin’s views on abortion are not known; if I had to guess, I’d say she would most likely sternly oppose abortion in the light of the importance of at least some procreation in a society which is largely incapable of it, so no, I see no parallel here whatsoever. It seems a little facile to equate the expansion of government programs with the establishment of a totalitarian control society, too, but, hey. Neither of them would make very credible anti-war activists at this point, that much is true; but I’m not sure that there is much point in comparing the kind of war that Coin was engaged in (a civil war) to American military efforts in Afghanistan or Iraq, so there’s that.

    It really sounds to me like the main parallel is that you don’t seem to think much of either of their policies. Which, fair enough, but it seems a little hypocritical to tell people not to argue politics in the comments when your own comment is hardly politically neutral.

    The more interesting question, I think, would be whether the fact that a top politician is female is exceptional within the Hunger Games universe in the same way that is in the current political situation. Collins is not clear on this matter, in my opinion: On the one hand, I do not recall anyone within the books so much as remarking on the fact that Coin is female, which could mean that it is in fact completely normal and not worth mentioning in the context of their society; the equal treatment (and, it seems, relatively proportionate chances of winning the Games – after all, they were able to fill all the slots for Quarter Quell) of the Hunger Games candidates in the first two books might also be an indication that the society might be a bit more egalitarian in terms of gender than ours is. On the other hand, of course the politicians and figures of authority we were introduced to before tended to be male. Was a female politician more likely to emerge in District 13 than elsewhere? Maybe so, but I don’t recall feminist issues ever being much of a talking point when it came to overthrowing the Capitol, and after Coin’s death, her substitute, again without any discussion about her sex, turned out to be female too; so perhaps the society that Collins was sketching, for all its many faults, was indeed more gender-balanced than current US society? If that is the case, then looking for parallels to real-life politicians for Coin’s figure just because she happens to be female is perhaps missing the point a little.

  6. I understand that the Coin-Clinton connection is a stretch and that for anyone sympathetic to or in agreement with Secretary Clinton’s politics it would be a painful stretch. Thank you for explaining at such length why you believe it is not plausible. Certainly if the connection were obvious there wouldn’t be any point in my bringing it up for discussion.

    I am amused, though, by the assertion that I “don’t think much” of Secretary Clinton’s politics and that I am a hypocrite for forbidding partisan posts because my “comment is hardly politically neutral.”

    I intentionally included the sobriquets of both left and right in this assessment of her positions, an assessment made only for the sake of the possible connection with President Coin: most notably the “professional left’s” opinion that she has abandoned her opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to build her foreign policy resume for another run at the Presidency and the Tea Party right’s conviction that she is a big government liberal and abortionist.

    I intentionally called her thoughts on the abortion issue both “pro-choice” and “anti-life” to represent both sides of the aisle; that you found one of those tags “controversial, to say the least” testifies less to my hypocrisy than to your inability to see the obvious, namely, that there are two opinions about Secretary Clinton’s advocacy for abortion rights.

    Thank you again for the time you put into this response. The connection is certainly a stretch, but not as difficult or as forced a connection as you think — and, if true, hardly essential to understanding the work. I’m confident no one has put down the book after reading the last page of the epilogue and said, “Wow! I never would have guessed that Suzanne Collins hated Hillary Clinton that much!” I offered it only as an intriguing possibility.

  7. Ah, I think we’re misreading each other a bit here. Apologies if my post came across as YOU’RE A HYPOCRITE!, because that wasn’t my intention: I thought you were being a little hypocritical here, but that’s not the same as saying that you are, at the very core of your being, a hypocrite.

    The reason I thought you were being a little hypocritical was that I think your theory is only in the least bit convincing from the perspective of a right-winged criticism of Clinton, which I thought I detected shimmering through in your post. It seems now that that was at least partially a misunderstanding, since I apparently misread your attempt to represent the criticism from both the left and the right-winged perspective. I still think the latter makes more sense: while you’re right of course that the whole Afghanistan/Iraq thing is a leftie talking point, I don’t find that particular parallel very compelling (it would be if were given some backstory about Coin having been a pacifist until very recently, but I remember no such thing – did I overlook something?).

    As for the abortion thing, I think we have both been misreading each other’s comments: I certainly recognise that there are two different stances on abortion rights; the reason why I referred to only one of them as “controversial” was that I do not think that anyone would deny that Clinton is indeed “pro-choice”; it might not be the preferred nomenclature of many of her adversaries, but that doesn’t change the fact that Clinton is indeed advocating for the ability to make a choice and is thus “pro-choice”. The issue of contention is not whether having an abortion is or isn’t a choice, it’s whether or not having an abortion is a legitimate choice. So, Clinton is “pro-choice” by anyone’s standards, but “anti-life” only be the standards of “pro-life”rs (which, incidentally, is a label I am very much happy to use in order to describe the anti-abortion activists, even though I don’t think that thinking abortion should be legal makes one “anti-life”; in the same way, I’d expect them to recognise the label of “pro-choice”, even if they disagree on whether having an abortion should be a legal option). That’s why I commented: I thought you putting these two adjectives next to each other was intended as an equation of the two terms; but clearly, that’s not how it was meant, so apologies there. My comment on why I do not think that Coin and Clinton would be in agreement where reproductive and abortion rights are concerned still stands, in any case.

    Anyway, I guess I don’t find this particular hypothesis as compelling as some of the other comments you’ve posted, for the reasons outlined above, but fair enough. I certainly do agree with you that there is value in discussing the non-obvious and hidden meanings, in principle; otherwise, I’d hardly be reading along on this website.

  8. I have to agree with Alex on this one. I read into your comments the same way. You said you used “pro-choice” AND “anti-life” but if you look at your exact wording, you wrote pro-choice or ‘anti-life’. That reads as though you see those as synonymous. At any rate, one could argue that there is a pro-choice theme running through the novels as Katniss voices her disgust with not having control over her body (during her prepping and after the Games) as well as never wanting to bring a child into that world. Most people who are pro-choice do not necessarily believe in abortions, but believe each individual should make their own decisions about their body rather than the government deciding them for you. Even though she changed her mind about having a child, I think she would still believe that those choices should be left up to the parents, not the government.

    I actually could see more connections with Coin and Sarah Palin, especially when it comes to weaponry. I recall her telling a story about hunting/shooting wolves from an airplane with her husband. I guess I just did not see the connection with Clinton. She inherited the responsibility of this war and often I heard her say that we can’t just blow up a country then abandon it. There’s much more than fighting/combat going on in Afghanistan/Iraq–our soldiers are doing a lot of good and rebuilding communities we tore apart. It would be nice to see more of that reported on the news rather than the fighting itself. I think Collins touches on that point, too, with the propos. We are controlled by the media, no matter which side is spun. Katniss and Peeta finally find peace without the TVs and cameras.

    I do enjoy reading your posts, by the way. Whether I agree or not doesn’t matter–I enjoy looking at things from other perspectives. 🙂

  9. Louise M. Freeman says:

    I must say, I don’t find the Coin-Hilary connection as compelling as the Aunt Marge Thatcher one. I don’t think we should read too much into the act that the leader is female, in a society with as much gender equity as Panem. Woman are Peacekeepers, Hunger Games Victors and Mentors (a 70ish woman trained Finnick, remember), coal miners, and soldiers at all levels of command, so why wouldn’t we expect one as President? It could just as easily be concluded that Snow’s advanced age means he’s a stand-in for John McCain. I can see District 13 as a representative of an overly controlling government, but more on the lines of genuine Marxists, not Clinton Democrats.

    As controlled and lifeless as District 13 is at times, it, unlike modern day Communist nations, is a place that provides for its people, has resources to share with refugees, would let Prim achieve her dream of being a doctor (her death was an evil act of the power-hungry leader, not a result of their flawed political system) and has the most efficient emergency preparedness system ever seen. Given a choice between it, the Capitol or the other 12 Districts, there’s no doubt where I’d want to be when the bombs start falling. If Collins intended to criticize Big Government through her depiction of District 13, I don’t think she’d have made their programs work so darn well.

    As for whether the pox-induced sterility is meant to represent the abortion rights position of the political left, that’s hard for me to see. No one is more concerned about building up the human population than President Coin; it’s the only reason she gives for not exterminating the Capitol citizens. She would probably not only outlaw abortion and birth control, but start giving people incentives to have more babies. Certain European countries like Russia and Portugal, concerned about declining birthrates, have started doing just that.

    I see the political message as critical of both Marxism and Facism and both extreme consumerism and communism. I see no reason to specify Hilary Clinton or abortion rights as specific targets within that context.

  10. LMF–I think you’re spot on. Collins’s main political message seems to be about turning over the power/individual thought of the people. In the Capitol, it’s extreme consumerism. People become mindless consumers and are distracted by their bread and circuses. In District 13, they give up their voice to a strictly centrally planned communist regime. The micromanagement goes down to every minute of their life. It’s a sterile life, if a stable and safe one. In both systems, all semblance of democracy is absent (and apparently the possibility of it is forgotten).

    While Coin is no Stalin (I’d much rather live in 13, soulless as it is, than in Soviet Russia), she uses the extreme centralization and the dependence and mindless trust it breeds for her own ruthless purposes. Her role in the books seems much more part of the general critique–that relinquishing your power and individual critical thought to any Authority is dangerous, no matter what political ideology that Authority adheres to–than a critique of any current American political figure.

  11. Catherine says:

    I was just rereading my copy of Mockingjay. This may be reading too deaply into every peice of dialogue, but when Katniss was negotiating her terms for being the Mockingjay, she says:
    “Just one more thing. I kill Snow.”
    Then Coin says:
    “When the time comes, I’ll flip you for it.”
    The mention of the flip side of the coin, and then Katniss killing her instead of Coin.
    Coincidence?

  12. Louise M. Freeman says:

    Catherine,

    I thought the same thing when I read it. I also thought the she might flip sides and wind up betraying Katniss to the Capital, but I think the part about her being the flip side of Snow’s coin is spot on.

  13. Had Coin not been assassinated, I believe she would have found a way to imprison all the Victors, especially Katniss “after the fact” by digging up any and every act re: Katniss’ quest to get to the Capitol. Coin had already laid the groundwork for such action when she announced Katniss would be The Mockingjay…and added her own set of conditions should Soldier Everdeen fail to comply.

    Coin represents authority figures everywhere willing to manipulate and blame others in the interest of personal gain and maintaining power.

  14. The letters “c,” “o,” “i,” and “n” also appear in the name Collins. And in the appropriate order, no juggling of letters needed.

    So is Suzanne Collins saying that she herself is President Coin?

  15. I don’t buy the connection to Hillary Clinton. I think that the reason for Coin being female is as a complement to Snow. They come from opposite cultures (decadent versus sterile); they are of opposite sexes. However, they are really the same character. I think the point is in the contrast of two people who are opposite in almost every way except that they are morally the same.

  16. Catherine,
    Indeed! That “flip” comment is definitely not random, but nice ironic foreshadowing (and just funny from a woman named Coin). Also, since her first name is Alma (kind, caregiving, like Alma Mater), it previews that we will see the Flipside of that. It also adds nicely to the themes of chance (may the odds be ever in your favor) throughout.
    In a way, Coin does “flip” Katniss, by turning her world upside down and then, essentailly, creating the method of her own destruction. The vote, in a way, is the coin toss, and Katniss’s deceptive “heads” gives her the chance to take out Coin.
    Politics or no, I don’t trust anyone whose hair is that perfect (reminded me of Barty Crouch’s slide-rule measured mustace!)

  17. Touche, Janet. Touche.

  18. At the time THG was in it’s conception phase, the 2008 election cycle was heating up. Hillary Clinton was the likely Democratic candidate–while she ended up not being the winner–there was no one who though anyone else stood a chance up until the middle of the primaries.

    Considering that Snow and Coin are parallels to Bush and his (at the time)yet to be named successor, it is only logical that Hillary Clinton provided some inspiration for the character.

    To me, Collins is saying that she was awake to the fact that there would be no difference between Bush or his successor, regardless of who it was. The American political system has been completely corrupted and is totally controlled by outside interests who share the same goals.

    The left/right paradigm is false. They are two wings of the same bird, two sides of the same coin…are we getting the picture here?

  19. I may be totally wrong here, but even though Snow is a dictator, the Capitol is MUCH more liberal than District 13. Coin is more of a limiter of people’s rights, in my opinion. At least in the Capitol people have some capitalism….

    I agree with earlier comments about abortion; Clinton is not “anti-life.” There is a HUGE difference between PRO-CHOICE and ANTI-LIFE. Coin is forced to have population restriction due to her resources and space. Neither is an advocate of abortion, per se…

    All in all, I feel that both Coin and Snow are more conservative-minded than liberal; they both put restrictions on their citizens’ rights to make decisions….

  20. I agree that Coin’s regime is much more controlling that Snow was with regard to the Capitol. However, I disagree with your suggestion that liberalism equates to freedom and conservatism equates to heavy governmental influence. As the terms liberal and conservative are currently used in US politics, neither one is especially consistent on freedom of citizens from government interference. One recent example is the health care bill that mandates people purchase health insurance. People can argue whether or not this is a wise idea. However, it is clearly a limitation on personal liberty.

    In current politics, the hard core libertarians are the ones who argue most consistently for eliminating governmental control over personal choices. They are generally considered to be more conservative than the main stream Republicans.

  21. Coin’s hair is described on page 10 as “gray” and an “unbroken sheet.” The phrase “iron curtain” comes to my mind.

  22. I don’t think anyone has mentioned this:
    Paylor sounds very similar to Palin.

    Coin sounds similar to Clinton.
    Paylor sounds similar to Palin.

    Coincidence or intentional?

  23. pebble garden says:

    While the Clinton suggestion is tantalizing, ultimately I think Collins is being more mythological than allegorical. That is, Snow and Coin are metaphors for the ability of power to corrupt regardless of ideology, rather than a strict one-to-one equivalence (Coin = Hillary Clinton).

    Tolkien famously disliked allegory, because it gets mired in specifics, whereas Myth speaks to more fundamental truths which manifest regardless of who plays the bit parts.

    However, readers of Collins’ books would do well to remember Snow and Coin when thinking of our current crop of ‘leaders’, and every other, who presume to rule over us.

  24. Just to join in on all this. Certainly the two-sided coin has its merits, or the concept that Coin is really on the side of the wealthy and privileged despite the utilitarian, almost Russian communist look of District 13. But one can’t spell Collins without C-O-I-N either, and though Collins is the mastermind of Panem, I doubt she’s (deliberately) making that link. Also COIN is the military acronym for Counter-Insurgency Operations, and Collins herself has a heavy military background. That may be the hidden message here.

  25. openeydamerican says:

    I must admit that I had already seen the direct correlation of President Coin to Hilary Clinton while watching the Hunger Games series with my pre-teen. But this was also after meeting the author, Suzanne Collins, personally at a Writing Conference “Writing for Change” in San Francisco, where she informed the audience of her direct antiwar message with her trilogy.

    It fits perfectly. Hilary Clinton IS the pending “President Coin”. And isn’t it interesting how today, in Iowa, she “won” with a careless toss of a coin? Where is Katniss when we need her? Hilary Clinton is a criminal warmonger, just as any right wing extremist, and its always been only about power and the “coin”. Never about protecting our “way of life”. Why wasn’t Chelsea picked for a reaping at age 18 when Hilary Coin voted for the disastrous Iraq War?

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