Guest Post: Hunger Games Mark Evanses & Names

More from Prof. Louise Freeman at Mary Baldwin College on neglected details in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games!

Mark Evanses

(What is a ‘Mark Evans’? People we’ve heard mentioned in the story but not been told about who could turn out to be important later, or could just as likely be nobodies. Read here for the Harry Potter reference.)

  1. Peeta’s brothers. We know Prim from the get-go. We at least meet and learn something about Gale’s siblings: their ages, genders, the fact that little Rory registers for tesserae and was starting to learn hunting. All we know is that Peeta has two older brothers, one likely too old to be in the Games, the other eligible but who Katniss flatly states “won’t” volunteer to take his kid brother’s place.  Either Brother #2 knows of the Pearl Plot and realizes Peeta’s the best to court the Mockingjay, or he takes after his mom. [Read more…]

Guest Post: On Female Victors and Probability

It’s Hunger Games Time! Mary Baldwin College Professor Louise Freeman, a longtime friend of this weblog. has jumped from the Pearl Plot and other ideas about Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novels posted here into exploration of neglected details of the series that open up fascinating possibilities about the series’ finale, The Mockingjay. I’ll be posting her insights here this week and next — stay tuned!

Female Victors, Probability and the Quarter Quell

A commonality shared by Johanna and Katniss on Catching Fire is their status as the lone female victor in their District.  Thus, when the conditions of the third Quarter Quell are announced, they are both in the position of being the only name in their Reaping lottery and therefore automatic “winners” of the 96% death chance that comes with being an Arena tribute.  Actually, the risk is probably even higher given their gender; with the emphasis on hand-to-hand combat in the Games, it is fair to assume there are more male than female victors.  So, the odds of survival for these women were probably never higher than 2% or so.  Or even less if you consider neither are from Career districts.

A little statistics, however, leads to a somewhat surprising conclusion.  In all probability (and I mean that quite literally) what’s remarkable about Katniss and Johanna is not their status as lone District female victors. What’s surprising is that we are never told of any other women in the same boat. [Read more…]

More ‘Hunger Games’ Bird Thoughts: Katniss and Prim as Dead Duck and Brilliant Mockingjay

No piece of critical writing is every truly comprehensive, covering every possible base. In a March post on bird images in The Hunger Games, I hit some of the highlights of bird connections with the two segments of the trilogy we have thus far, knowing that I wouldn’t get every single reference, of course, but happy to see that we had some great conversations on our feathered friends in Panem.

This week, however, a bird connection occurred to me that I had not pondered before, and it seems like one we might want to address. I wasn’t even thinking about HG, strangely. We were doing a memorial service for Civil War soldiers on a particularly chilly evening, so I wrapped my daughter up in an old fur cape, cast off from a college theatre department, which looks charming with her 1860s garb (in our neck of the woods, we tell folks it’s bearskin, though I guess it’s mink). The poor thing is pretty bare in spots, and, as Isabella was patting the soft fur, she noticed an old, rusty straight pin stuck in the hem. Thankfully, we got it out and discarded before anyone needed a tetanus shot, but it started me thinking about Mrs. Everdeen pinning Katniss’s old Reaping outfit on Prim.

That’s a very poignant scene, in my mind, as Katniss is so concerned about Prim’s shirt coming untucked, what she calls a “duck tail.”  At first, I thought this just a throwaway, a moment of tenderness and levity as the girls quack at each other before the Reaping, but, as I pondered it further,  I noticed that it is the sight of Prim’s “duck tail” that specifically incites Katniss to volunteer. It’s the trigger that sends her “flying” to the platform to take Prim’s place. The bird connections here may be far more complex and meaningful than an untucked blouse, as the duck is replaced by the Mockingjay.

[Read more…]

Collection of Suzanne Collins Interviews Online

I hope in the coming weeks to comment on each of these two interview sets, interviews with the author of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins, but wanted to share these with those who may not be aware of them and to ask for links to other Suzanne Collins commentary on the books about which author-insights or lines of sight all of us should know.

At A series of five talks filmed after the publication of Hunger Games (the link takes you to the first talk and the other four are accessible at that page).

The Border’ Book Club Interviews: A series of seven talks filmed after the publication of Catching Fire (the link takes you to the first talk and the other six are accessible at that page).

If you cannot resist commenting on Ms. Collins’ remarks, please refer to the specific segment of which interview, e.g., “Scholastic, part 3, 1:43,” so we can access what you’re talking about!

(Check out the Borders Book Club interview with Mrs. Meyer about Twilight, too, while you’re on that page!)

EBH: Don’t go down in the Hole – Coal Mining Life in District 12 and in Present-Day Appalachia

As you may have noticed from my previous Hunger Games guest post, I am deeply interested in the connections between Suzanne Collins’s fiction and the very real history and culture of Appalachia, where I live, work, and teach Appalachian culture. My husband’s mother was born in a coal mining town, and her mother has graced us with wonderful oral history material regarding life in the coal towns.

“There’s a hole in this mountain, it’s dark and it’s deep,/And God only knows all the secrets it keeps./There’s a chill in the air only miners can feel/And there’s ghosts in the tunnels that the company sealed.”  The Mountain—Steve Earle

As the families of 29 Montcoal, WV, families mourn their loved ones lost in the mine explosion last Monday (the remaining four miners’ bodies were found over the weekend), Hunger Games readers might be thinking of Katniss Everdeen, whose father, along with her friend Gale’s father, was killed in an coal mining accident when Katniss was 11. In honor of those very real individuals and their families, it might be appropriate to look at a few of the ways in which Suzanne Collins’ fictional District 12 and its coal mining culture mirror the actual history and culture in the coal-mining regions of Appalachia.  Although this is a rather lengthy post, be assured that, pardon the pun, it only scratches the surface. [Read more…]