Fictional universe of The Hunger Games
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The Hunger Games universe is a fictional world appearing in The Hunger Games trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. It consists primarily of the fictional nation of Panem, its Capitol where the totalitarian government resides, and the outlying districts, numbered 1 to 12, each with a different economy. In addition, there is the secretive District 13, where a rebel force is building strength. The Hunger Games themselves are an annual event in which citizens from the districts, selected through a process of Reaping and Primaries, are forced to participate in a battle to the death. The universe also contains fictional flora and fauna, such as the Mockingjay, a bird whose mimicry is used as a plot device, and after whom the third book in the series is named.
- 1 Panem
- 2 The Hunger Games
- 3 Fauna unique to Panem
- 4 Flora unique to Panem
- 5 Notes
- 6 References
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
The series takes place in the fictional nation of Panem, which has replaced the current North American nations at an unspecified future time after a series of ecological disasters and a great war. The name Panem comes from the Latin for bread. Panem consists of a Capitol city located in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by thirteen outlying Districts. The government is a totalitarian dictatorship similar to ancient Rome, a police state in which the Districts are subservient to the Capitol, expected to provide economic goods in exchange for protection provided by "Peacekeepers".
Seventy-four years before the start of the story, a rebellion was waged against the Capitol, led by District 13 which was a center of military production. The Capitol put down the rebellion and razed District 13 to the ground, ostensibly wiping out its residents. The government refers to this war as "the Dark Days", and to punish the rebellious districts and remind all generations of the Capitol's power, instituted an annual pageant known as the "Hunger Games" for which each district is compelled to provide a male and female "tribute" between the ages of 12 and 18, chosen by lottery. The twenty-four tributes are sent to an arena and forced to fight to the death, until a single victor remains.
Panem has been led for more than 50 years by President Coriolanus Snow. In Mockingjay, it is revealed that District 13's population was not wiped out, but retreated underground and is currently led by Snow's political rival, President Alma Coin. After the 75th and final Hunger Game, Coin leads a second rebellion against the Capitol, which is successful. She is then assassinated by Katniss Everdeen and is succeeded by Commander Paylor, who presides over a reestablished democratic republic.
The Capitol is populated by citizens who, like the ancient Romans as observed by the satirical poet Juvenal circa A.D. 100, have sold their civic responsibility and capacity for self-government in return for panem et circenses ("bread and circuses").
Removed from the deprivation and oppression of the districts, the pampered and hedonistic civilians are generally preoccupied with extravagant fashion, parties, and mass entertainment like the Hunger Games. Compared to the Districts, the Capitol is extremely wealthy and derives most of the benefits of advanced technologies such as computers, hover planes, and maglev trains. Visiting tributes, who have grown up with the constant threat of starvation, are shocked by what they consider wasteful decadence in the Capitol. For example, the selection of dishes served at parties is commonly far greater than one person could sample, so it is usual to provide emetic beverages, allowing guests to continue eating. Due to this extravagant lifestyle, it is rare for Capitol citizens to join the Peacekeepers (described below), as it requires its soldiers to avoid marriage for twenty years and is often considered a punishment to avoid spending time in jail. In addition, residents of other districts who are considered criminals or traitors may be forced into servitude in the Capitol and converted into Avoxes, a brutal form of punishment in which offenders have their tongue surgically removed.
Citizens of the Capitol are culturally distinct from those of the Districts, speaking with a characteristic accent and choosing first names of ancient Greco-Roman derivation, with the city itself having a distinctly modernized version of Roman architecture. In the books, the Capitol buildings are described as "candy-colored", rising in a rainbow of hues. The fashions of the Capitol are exotic and ostentatious, with citizens dyeing their skin and hair with vivid colors, adopting tattoos, and undergoing extensive surgical alteration in the name of style. The Capitol accent is distinctive, said to sound "silly" and effete to people from the districts; the accent is described as being "high-pitched with clipped tones and odd vowels." The letter s is a hiss and the tone rises at the end of every sentence, as if the speaker is asking a question.
Residents of the Capitol cannot be chosen as tributes for the Hunger Games, as the Games were instituted as a punishment for the twelve remaining districts of Panem for their failed rebellion. At one time there were thirteen districts, but District 13 was supposedly destroyed by the Capitol for possible use of weaponry (they were responsible for providing nuclear weapons for the country). The Games are an annual cause for celebration in the Capitol; citizens gamble on the tributes and sponsor their favorites in the arena, providing water, food, weapons, and other necessary provisions. Past victors are often able to cultivate celebrity status in the Capitol. Despite the bloodthirsty nature of the Games, the people of the Capitol are shown to be vulnerable to sentimentality and melodrama, becoming emotionally invested in the tributes, a fact ultimately manipulated by Katniss and Peeta.
Peacekeepers are the military and police force in Panem. They wear black-trimmed white uniforms consisting of a helmet, a standing collar, waist-length tunic, and trousers tucked into high black boots. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, their appearance is different from the first movie; they wear a full helmet, darker visor, and heavier-looking armor, and carry automatic rifles.
Peacekeepers maintain order and suppress dissidence through coercion and brutality. The Peacekeeper force in each district is led by a Head Peacekeeper of the district. The Peacekeepers ensure that the laws of the Capitol are obeyed and publicly punish those who break them. The most frequent punishment consists of floggings, but can include the pillory and hanging for the most serious crimes. Peacekeepers are usually equipped with machine guns to further discourage social disobedience among the Districts. As the Capitol traditionally considered District 12 a minimal threat, the Peacekeepers stationed there tended to be less brutal, and were easily bribed with sex and black market goods such as poached animals. But in Catching Fire, after Katniss Everdeen's and Peeta Mellark's defiance of the Capitol in the 74th Hunger Game, the Head Peacekeeper was replaced by a much stricter and brutal one who could not be bribed, and destroyed the Hob, which housed the black market.
District 1 specializes in producing luxury items such as jewelry. Children living there take pride in representing District 1 in the Games, and are often among the group of tributes nicknamed "Careers", who illegally train for the Games from a young age. Katniss refers to them as "the Capitol's lap dogs" in the first book. Once the Games begin, the tributes from the Career-heavy districts (typically Districts 1, 2, and 4 in the book, just 1 & 2 in the film) tend to form an alliance until they are forced to fight among themselves to determine the winner. Along with District 2, District 1 is heavily favored by the Capitol and is fairly wealthy compared to the rest of the districts.
In The Hunger Games, during the 74th Hunger Games, both tributes from District 1 (Marvel and Glimmer) join the "Career" pack. Glimmer is eventually killed by tracker jackers (mutant wasps), which were dropped on the Careers by Katniss. Marvel is killed by Katniss after he kills Rue. In Catching Fire, the tributes from District 1 are siblings Cashmere and Gloss, who are killed by Johanna Mason and Katniss, respectively.
District 2 is in charge of stone cutting, fighting, and weapon making, though it was revealed in Mockingjay that it is also a center of training for the Capitol's army of Peacekeepers. District 2 is a large district in the mountains, not far from the Capitol itself. Its citizens have better living conditions than most other districts; support for Capitol control is stronger here than in any other district. Some citizens of District 2 give their children names of Ancient Roman or Greek style, like those common in the Capitol. District 2 tributes often volunteer for the Games even when not selected in the drawing (this is said to make the Reapings very difficult). As such, their tributes are among those referred to as "careers". Like Districts 1 and 4 (in the film like District 1) these tributes train for the games. This is illegal but because of the support District 2 gives for the Capitol, they are let off, along with District 1 (and District 4 in the book), the other richer districts. It is also mentioned that the number of victors is heavily skewed on District 2 due to their eagerness to compete in the game.
During the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games, Cato and Clove, the tributes from District 2, were formidable opponents. Clove came the closest of anyone to killing Katniss, but she was interrupted and killed by Thresh, after having said loudly that the careers killed Rue, the female tribute from Thresh's district. Thresh avenged her death. Cato was the final tribute to be killed when Katniss shot him with her bow out of pity after he was shredded beyond repair by wolf-like muttations. In the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games, District 2's tributes were Brutus and Enobaria. Brutus was killed by Peeta in the arena; Enobaria survived the Games and the rebellion to be one of the few victors left after the war. Another victor, Commander Lyme, was the leader of the rebellion during the takeover of The Nut.
District 2 is made up of many small villages, each based around a mine. In the midst of District 2 is a central mountain (referred to as "The Nut" by Katniss) which contains the command and control center for the Capitol's defenses. During the Dark Days, District 2 was the Capitol's staunchest ally and received preferential treatment from the Capitol after the rebellion, along with District 1. Katniss states that many of the other Districts loathe District 2, referring to them as "the Capitol's lap dogs." In the third book, during the second rebellion, District 2 is the last to fall to the rebels as District 2 had the strongest Capitol influence and had many Peacekeepers. The rebels were losing in the district until the fall of The Nut, and Katniss' speech to the people of District 2.
District 3 specializes in the production of electronics. Most of its inhabitants work in factories and are very adept in skills such as engineering, which its tributes have used to their advantage in the Games. In the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games, the male tribute from District 3 manages to reactivate the land mines surrounding the Cornucopia so they can be used to protect the supplies of the Careers. One of the previous victors to come from District 3, Beetee, won his Games by setting a trap that electrocuted six tributes at once, crowning him the victor. He also used his skills after being chosen to compete in the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games in Catching Fire. The other victor chosen to compete in the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games is a woman named Wiress, who discovered that the arena operated like a clock and told Katniss how to detect force fields, after she pointed (or at least started to point) out the force field put up between the Gamemakers and the victors. Wiress died during the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games, while Beetee joins the technological division for the Second Rebellion's war effort and becomes the only surviving Victor from District 3 after the war's end.
Although District 3 seems to have technological advantages over other districts, it is actually the poorest of the wealthy districts and typically does not do well in the Games.
District 4 is a coastal district that specializes in fishing. It is another wealthy district in which children often train to become Careers (tributes from this district are not considered Careers in the film). It is said that District 4 has the most "decent-looking" people. The most popular bread baked in this District is a salty, fish-shaped loaf tinted green by seaweed.
In the first book, the male tribute from District 4 is one of the eleven to die in the initial bloodbath at the Cornucopia; in the film he is depicted as having his throat slit by Cato after an attempt to flee. In the book, the female tribute is shown as a Career and killed by the tracker jackers alongside Glimmer; however, she does not appear in the film and most likely has died in the initial bloodbath. In Catching Fire, Katniss finds important allies in Mags and Finnick Odair, the victors from District 4 chosen for the Quarter Quell. Mags is an elderly victor who mentored Finnick in his first Games and could make a fishing hook "out of anything." She volunteered for the Quarter Quell, taking the place of Annie Cresta, an unstable past victor who won her games by being able to swim the longest after the arena was flooded. During the third Quarter Quell, Mags is killed by a mysterious blister agent in the form of a fog. As for Finnick, Katniss describes him as "beautiful" and mentions that he won his Games at the young age of fourteen. In Mockingjay, Katniss and Finnick turn out to become great friends and eventually Finnick is killed by part-lizard, part-human mutations during the second rebellion, so that he could save Katniss's life. This results in Annie being the only surviving Victor from District 4 left after the war.
District 5 specializes in electrical power, which Caesar Flickerman referred as the "Power Plant Workers" in the first film. The third book reveals that the district is dotted by dams providing the Capitol with electricity; this fact is exploited by the rebels, who destroy the dams, briefly cutting off electricity within the Capitol and allowing District 13 to rescue the captured Victors. This is only mentioned in the book but is shown fully in the third film.
In the first book, Katniss nicknamed the female tribute from District 5 "Foxface" because she looked similar to a fox, with a slim face and sleek red hair. She was one of the last to die, due to her cleverness, avoiding any form of contact with other tributes. She also steals a small portion of food from the Careers' supplies, dodging the bombs set up by the Careers, shortly before her death. She dies by eating poisonous berries known as nightlock after watching Peeta harvest them. No name or description is given to the male tribute from District 5, except that he is one of the eleven who die in the bloodbath on the first day. In the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games, Finnick kills the male tribute with his trident at the Cornucopia on the first day. In the film, the female tribute is killed by the 10 o'clock wave that propels itself through the jungle.
District 6 specializes in transportation, serving as a hub for the transport network. During the Seventy-fourth Hunger Games, both tributes were killed in the bloodbath on the first day. In the film the male was targeted by Cato, who accused him of taking his knife during a pre-Games training exercise (though it was in fact stolen by Rue). During the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games, both tributes are nicknamed the "Morphlings" due to their addiction to morphling, a psychoactive drug similar to that of morphine. The male tribute is killed in the bloodbath, while the female tribute dies when a monkey muttation bites her in the chest and ruptures her internal organs as she blocks it from Peeta, who was its initial target. Peeta allows her to paint flowers on his face with her blood, and describes the many colors in the sky to her as she dies.
District 7 specializes in lumber and paper. Its two tributes in the 74th Hunger Games die in the initial bloodbath. In the 75th Hunger Games, the tributes selected are Blight, who protests his inclusion, and Johanna Mason, a sarcastic woman who has no qualms over killing with her axe, a signature weapon from her district, and is the one mentioned Victor closest to Katniss and Peeta in age, having won the very recent 71st Hunger Games.
District 8 specializes in textiles (including at least one factory in which Peacekeeper uniforms are made). It was one of the first districts to rebel, as Katniss saw on Mayor Undersee's television. Two people from District 8, Bonnie and Twill, escaped during one of the uprisings and informed Katniss of the theory that District 13 still existed. It is implied that security is strict in District 8 following the uprising, and the citizens are desperate for hope. In Mockingjay, Katniss visits a hospital in District 8, which is later bombed by the Capitol. It is thus the second-most targeted of the districts during the Second Rebellion, after District 12 (which is outright destroyed). The leader of District 8, Paylor, is able to command fierce loyalty from her soldiers who follow her orders in preference to those of Alma Coin, the president of District 13. Paylor later becomes President of Panem.
In the 74th Hunger Games, the male tribute from District 8 died at the Cornucopia at the hands of Marvel; the female tribute was attacked by the Careers on the first night and "finished off" by Peeta when her death did not occur immediately, as indicated by cannon blast. In the 75th Hunger Games, both tributes from District 8, Woof and Cecelia, died in the initial battle at the Cornucopia. Woof was an elderly, senile tribute in his 70's. Cecelia was a young mother of 3, and was noted to be about 30 years of age. It is later revealed that Cecelia was to be an original member of the arranged alliance to save Katniss and Peeta from the second arena; however, she did not survive the initial bloodbath. Woof also had knowledge of the plot.
District 9 specializes in producing grain. It is the least mentioned district in the series; no named character from the district has appeared in the series. The only mention of note from the district is the male tribute in the 74th Hunger Games who tackles Katniss for a supply bag until Clove puts a knife in his back. District 9 is the only district to lose both of its tributes in the bloodbath of both the 74th and 75th Hunger Games, and the only one to have no named characters in the trilogy.
District 10 specializes in livestock. At least one job is mentioned throughout the book: keeping embryos of cattle to keep enough livestock to send to the Capitol. Katniss does not note any major tributes from District 10, except one boy with a crippled leg who is mentioned several times. In Mockingjay, Katniss meets Dalton, a District 10 refugee who explains to her a bit about District 13's history. At the 75th Hunger Games, Katniss notes that the District 10 tributes, who are dressed as cows, have flaming belts on as if they are broiling themselves, a poor imitation of Cinna and Portia's techniques to showcase Katniss and Peeta at the 74th Hunger Games.
District 11 specializes in agriculture. It is located somewhere in the South and is very large. The people are housed in small shacks and there is a harsh force of Peacekeepers. Common traits are dark skin and brown eyes. According to Rue, many tracker jacker nests were left there, leading the workers to keep medicinal leaves on hand. In the orchards, small children were sent into the branches to pick the highest fruit. Sometimes during the height of the harvest they were given night-vision goggles to allow them to work after dark. The district also contained fields of vegetables. Electric fences are set up 24 hours a day, in contrast to District 12. The inhabitants apparently have extensive knowledge of herbs. Overall, the condition of the district is worse than District 12, because, as the food-producing district, security is enforced greatly and harsh measures, including summary execution, are implemented to keep people from stealing anything meant for the Capitol.
In the 74th Hunger Games, the tributes from District 11 are Thresh, the tallest and most imposing of all tributes whom the others try to avoid as much as possible, and Rue, a 12-year old petite girl who can climb and jump between trees and becomes Katniss' steadfast ally until her death. In the 75th Hunger Games, the victors selected as tributes are Chaff, Haymitch's drinking comrade who refused a prosthetic arm, and Seeder, an elderly but healthy tribute who reminds Katniss of Rue.
District 12 specializes in coal mining, replaced by medicine after the Second Rebellion, and is the farthest from the Capitol. Katniss, Peeta, and other major characters come from District 12. It is located in the Appalachian Mountains, and the district itself is split into two distinct housing areas and social classes. "The Seam" is a slum where those who work in the coal mines live, whereas the mercantile class lives in the town, centered around the "Square". Both classes are easy to distinguish physically and generally socialize amongst themselves. Those from the Seam generally have dark hair, grey eyes, and olive skin, and those from merchant families typically have blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. Katniss and Gale are from The Seam, whereas Peeta is a baker's son from town; however, Katniss' sister, Prim, despite coming from the Seam, has characteristics typical of the town residents because she resembles her mother, who was one of the few town residents willing to move to the Seam to marry Katniss and Prim's father. It is unclear if this class divide exists in other Districts or is unique to District 12. On the victory tour in Catching Fire Katniss mentions that she cannot see where the well-to-do live in District 11, as it surely is not the square where their speech is being held. She also notes that many members of the crowd during the Victory Tour seem even poorer than the Seam inhabitants in 12.
District 12 is the poorest out of the 12 districts and starvation is a major issue for the citizens. Due to the lack of food, the local Capitol authority figures – the Mayor and Peacekeepers — often bend the extremely strict Panem laws. The electric fence surrounding the district to prevent access to the woods is usually turned off, and Katniss and her friend Gale often hunt there for food for their families or to raise money by selling their catches on the local black market. The black market, located at an old coal warehouse named the Hob, was where many of the citizens made their money. The Hob was destroyed by the Peacekeepers (whose local commander was replaced) in Catching Fire. This was followed by the bombing of the entire district after the escape of the tributes during the 75th Hunger Games. However, Gale managed to evacuate about 10% of the population—"a little under 900 people"—to District 13.
District 12's geography is dominated by forests and meadows. The meadow, which is located just outside the community, ends at a long electric fence constructed to keep the wild animals from escaping the forest outside. It has many holes and, as mentioned above, is usually turned off, giving Katniss and Gale chance to hunt; however, the fence is fully electrified after Romulus Thread replaces Cray as Head Peacekeeper. The forest has a lake, is vast, and contains a large amount of wildlife enough to support more than 800 residents of the district stranded after the bombings in Catching Fire. Many do not know where it leads to; as revealed in Catching Fire, the forest eventually ends at District 13, located a week away from District 12 on foot. Another feature of the district is a small hill, which is where the Victor's Village is located. It contains twelve big villas facing each other in two rows. It is very quiet for most of its history since District 12 has few Victors, though more people begin to settle there after the war. After the Capitol bombs District 12 at the end of Catching Fire, most of the residency is destroyed with its meadow turned into a mass grave of the residents unable to escape and with only the Victor's Village left unharmed. After the Second Rebellion, though, the District 12 refugees begin to return to their home, including Katniss, who states in the epilogue that the mass grave is returning into the meadow again.
District 12 is notorious for having only two Victors in the history of the Hunger Games before the 74th, one of them having died due to natural causes. Because of this, it is a laughingstock among the other districts; volunteering for the Hunger Games in District 12 is seen as suicide, since the tributes of the district often perish early in the game.
Before the Dark Days war, District 13 specialized in nuclear technology and mining graphite. It was also the Capitol's weapons manufacturer until the rebellion. During the Dark Days, they were one of the major forces of the rebellion. Near the end of the Dark Days they managed to take control of the nuclear arsenal. District 13 was supposedly bombed and destroyed before the first annual Hunger Games at the end of the Dark Days war, but it was hinted in Catching Fire that they had survived, and in Mockingjay it is confirmed that District 13 had become, literally, an underground district when the population retreated to bunkers. After the Capitol and District 13 agreed to leave each other alone under the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, the Capitol spread the story that District 13 had been destroyed; District 13 had control of the primary nuclear weapons stockpile and the Capitol did not want a nuclear war. This underground district maintains concealed livestock and vegetable farms in order to survive after the Capitol destroyed everything above ground, so as not to arouse the suspicion of the other districts. This was a risk that, according to Katniss, the Capitol had underestimated. District 13 is a week away from District 12 on foot.
In Mockingjay, District 13 is the center of the new rebellion. It is led by President Alma Coin, who aspires to succeed Snow as President of Panem and has orchestrated the events in books two and three to circumvent District 13's truce with the Capitol. The lifestyle in District 13 is very strict because of their circumstances. When a citizen wakes up, they are given a temporary tattoo of their personalized schedule for the day, though Katniss usually ignores it, wandering around and sleeping. They are very thrifty and ration food carefully — even a small thing wasted is heavily frowned upon and minor theft is punished by detention; everyone wears the same grey uniform and sleeps in identical living quarters. Everyone over the age of 14 is addressed as "Soldier" because almost everyone in District 13 is being trained for a military rebellion against the Capitol. On the other hand, free education is provided, and all refugees are allowed to become citizens. This is, in part, due to the eagerness of the district to add more genetic diversity in the population due to a deadly virus hitting the district years before which made many infertile. Weddings are usually not celebrated since marriages are done through simple paper-signing, though the wedding of Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta in Mockingjay deviates from this.
The Hunger Games
Every year since the Dark Days, which occurred 75 years before the events of Mockingjay, the Capitol hosts an event called the Hunger Games. The Games consist of a gladiatorial combat fought amongst twenty-four teenagers (tributes) aged 12–18, with one boy and one girl chosen by lottery from each district (except for District 13). The game is held to remind the citizens of the districts of their failed rebellion and the absolute power of the Capitol while simultaneously providing entertainment for the Capitol citizens. The game is discontinued after the second rebellion, following the fall of President Snow and the ascendancy of Commander Paylor. Thus, there are a total of 1800 district citizens who were reaped as tributes from the start to the end of the games (the 50th Hunger Games had double the number, while the 75th reaped the victors from the previous games).
The Reapings and Preliminaries
When a citizen turns 12 years old, his or her name is automatically entered in the "reaping," a lottery system that chooses the tributes. On the day of the reaping, spokespersons from the Capitol, known to the Districts as "escorts," visit their respective districts (District 12's is Effie Trinket, and Katniss describes that she has been the escort for a number of years before the events of The Hunger Games) and choose at random one name from each of the two reaping balls, one for male tributes and the other for females, selecting the two tributes who are to compete. However, any other citizen of the same gender aged 12 to 18 can volunteer to become a tribute, taking the place of the child originally reaped (as Katniss did for Prim in The Hunger Games). In Districts 1 and 2 (and 4 in the book), some children spend years training specifically for the Games and then volunteer to compete.
For every year until they turn 18, the eligible tributes' names are entered an additional time. All of the names are written on slips of paper and placed in a glass bowl, from which the tributes are drawn by the announcer. Since many families live in poverty, one may be able to receive additional tesserae (one person's meagre supply of grain and oil for a year) in exchange for extra entries in the reaping. Therefore, for each tessera, one extra entry is placed in the reaping ball. For example, if a family has three members, a 12-year-old child could opt to take three extra tesserae: two for their family members and one for themselves; thus their name would be entered four times (one is the required entry, and the extra three are for each tessera). Since all entries are cumulative, if the citizen keeps taking the extra tesserae yearly, they would have their names entered 20 times by the age of 16, 24 by the age of 17, and finally 28 times by the time they are 18.
Following the reaping, the tributes are taken immediately to the Capitol, where they are given a makeover by a team of stylists in order to look appealing for a TV audience. Female tributes are usually waxed to remove all their body hair. One of the stylists on the team focuses on designing a costume for them to wear in the tribute parade, which reflects the resource their District provides for the Capitol. Each District's tributes are then put in horse-drawn chariots and attempt to impress Capitol citizens while they ride down the Avenue of the Tributes. Afterwards, they learn strategy with mentors drawn from their District's pool of past victors (for Katniss and Peeta, Haymitch, who is the only living victor from District Twelve) and train in combat and survival skills with the other tributes. On the last day of training, they demonstrate their skills before a team of judges, including the Gamemakers, who then score them on a scale of 1 to 12 according to their performance and skill. These scores are made public to show who has the best chances of surviving, which can attract Sponsors and influence the betting; tributes awarded the highest scores are often targeted first in the arena because they are considered to be the largest threats. Time in the Capitol is also spent courting the cameras; on the eve of the Games, each tribute dresses formally and appears on television for an interview, where they attempt to attract Sponsors by being charismatic.
On the morning of the Games, the tributes have a tracker chip inserted in their skin so the Gamemakers can track them. The tributes are then flown to a dedicated location, called the Arena. A new Arena is built every year, while past arenas become popular tourist attractions for Capitol citizens. Each tribute is given special clothing to wear, depending on the environment, and then confined to an underground room, referred to in the Capitol as the "Launch Room" and in the outer Districts as the "Stockyard", until game time. The tributes are lifted into the arena by glass tubes, emerging via tubes surrounding a giant, supply-filled horn made of solid gold, called the Cornucopia. A sixty-second countdown to the start of the Games begins, during which any tribute who steps off his or her plate will be killed immediately by land mines planted in the ground around the plates. The power of the landmines is immense, according to Katniss, when she mentions that one year, a girl from District 3 dropped her token, a little wooden ball, and "they literally had to scrape bits of her off the ground."
The Games begin with the sound of a loud gong. Most tributes make for the Cornucopia to find food, water, weapons, tools, or other useful items; the most valuable and useful items, including weapons, are often placed closest to the Cornucopia itself. The initial competition for supplies usually results in intense fighting, with a significant number of tributes killed in the first few minutes or hours of the Games. In most Games, a well-stocked, often well-trained group of tributes band together to hunt down other individuals, until they are the only ones left to fight each other. The alliance is generally agreed upon before the Games begin. These tributes are dubbed "Careers" because of the fact that they are often trained for an extensive portion of their childhood in combat and other survival skills. The "Careers" usually come from Districts 1, 2 and 4, and are generally disliked and considered brutally aggressive by many of the other Districts.
If one or more tributes does not move fast enough, avoids conflict for too long, or is too close to the edge of the Arena, the Gamemakers will sometimes create hazards to make for more entertaining programming or to steer the remaining tributes toward each other. Another common occurrence is a "feast", where a boon of extra supplies or food is granted to the tributes at a particular place and time (usually the Cornucopia), though whether it is a lavish feast, carefully regulated supplies, or a single loaf of stale bread for the tributes to fight over is up to the Gamemakers. In the first novel, the Gamemakers told the tributes that the feast would provide them with something they direly needed.
It is implied that there are no official rules for the Games except for not stepping off the plate until the conclusion of the sixty-second countdown. In the first novel, Katniss mentions that there is an unspoken rule against cannibalism in the Games. This rule came to be after the 71st Hunger Games, when a District 6 tribute named Titus resorted to cannibalism to survive in the arena. He was subsequently killed by an avalanche created by the gamemakers. There is some speculation that it was created specifically to kill him, to ensure that the victor was not a mad cannibal. During the 74th Hunger Games, the rules are altered during the Games to allow two tributes from the same district to win. However, when Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, both tributes from District 12, are the only two tributes remaining, the rule is revoked in an attempt to have them fight one another to the death. This ultimately fails when they attempt to poison themselves in unison, and at the last moment the rule is reinstated, allowing both of them to become victors. Though described as an act of love for one another in the publicity after the Games, the establishment in the Capitol saw it as an act of defiance. By refusing to respect the prescribed rules, the District 12 tributes were believed to have manipulated and outwitted the Capitol, and encouraged an uprising in the Districts in the process.
The Quarter Quell is an especially brutal version of the Hunger Games that occurs every 25 years. Each Quarter Quell includes a new twist to the rules, supposedly prescribed at the end of the Dark Days when the Hunger Games were first created. The rule changes serve as a reminder of some aspect of the rebellion. Officially, whoever came up with new rules assumed the Hunger Games would go on for centuries and wrote rule changes for many Quarter Quells. The President selects the year number from a box of sealed envelopes and announces the rule change live on television. Katniss Everdeen, the narrator of the books, suspects that President Snow actually made up the rule for the third Quarter Quell, which coincidentally serves the purpose of his vendetta against her.
In the first Quarter Quell (year 25), instead of the usual random lottery, the districts were forced to choose their tributes by election, to remind them that the Districts chose to rebel.
In the second Quarter Quell (year 50), double the total number of tributes were reaped from each District, to remind the districts that two rebels died for each Capitol citizen during the rebellion. The victor was Haymitch Abernathy, who won by discovering the properties of the force field surrounding the arena and using them to his advantage during the final battle with a girl from District 1, causing his attacker's thrown axe to fly back and hit her in the head. The Capitol believed it had been humiliated by Haymitch's actions and retaliated by killing his family and girlfriend shortly after the Games. President Snow ruled Panem during that year's games.
In the third Quarter Quell (year 75), portrayed in Catching Fire, the rule change determined that the tributes from each district were to be chosen from among its surviving victors. At the time of the third Quarter Quell, 59 victors were still alive. This Quell's message was that not even the strongest among the Districts could hope to defy the Capitol. The only living female victor from District 12 was Katniss Everdeen, which meant that she would automatically go back to the arena. She believed that this rule was made intentionally to ensure her death, as Snow was not happy with her actions in the 74th Games. Of the two male victors in District 12, Haymitch's name was drawn, but Peeta volunteered to replace him. The 75th Games had no winner: on the third day, with six tributes (Katniss, Peeta, Finnick, Johanna, Beetee, and Enobaria) remaining, Katniss destroyed the force field surrounding the arena by taking advantage of a lightning strike with wires tied around her arrow.
Unbeknownst to Katniss and Peeta, half of the other tributes in the 75th Games were part of a conspiracy (which also involved some high-ranking officials from the Capitol) to escape from the Games and help initiate a new rebellion orchestrated by the survivors of District 13. Katniss was rescued from the arena as planned and taken to District 13, along with the surviving tributes from District 3 and 4, Beetee and Finnick. In the confusion of the force field explosion, the remaining tributes – Peeta, Enobaria from District 2, and Johanna from District 7 – were captured by the Capitol. Annie Cresta was also taken to the Capitol as an attempt to get at Finnick, who loved her, though Annie was not harmed by the Capitol. Annie had been a previous victor and was reaped for the 75th Hunger Games but, an elderly woman named Mags volunteered for her, to spare her from what had previously made her unstable.
The location of the arena varies from year to year. Past arenas have included volcanoes, avalanche zones, and dams; the terrain has included woods, meadows, scrubland, deserts, and frozen tundra. One of the previous Games took place in the ruins of an abandoned city. Upon the conclusion of the Games, the arena is preserved as a tourist attraction for Capitol citizens.
The arena for the 74th Hunger Games is a largely forested area with a central meadow where the Cornucopia is located, a lake, and a wheat field. Katniss notes that it resembles the forests of District 12, which gives her a slight advantage in navigating and surviving in the game.
The arenas devised for the Quarter Quells appear to be especially spectacular. The second Quarter Quell took place in a beautiful meadow with flowers and a fruit-bearing forest and mountains. However, everything was designed by the Gamemakers to be either dangerous or poisonous, including all of the food and water, as well as the wildlife and vegetation. In the third Quarter Quell, the Cornucopia was placed on an island in a saltwater lake, with the surrounding shore divided into 12 segments that resembled a clock, with every hour featuring its own deadly attack, limited only to that slice of the arena during that time of day. The only area where there was no attack was the Cornucopia and the saltwater lake. This proved to be an important location for Katniss' allies.
The Gamemakers have complete control of the arena environment and can create any hazard they wish. In The Hunger Games, they set the forest on fire and switched between day and night at will. In the 75th Hunger Games, the Gamemakers divided the arena into twelve segments, each containing a different terror which only activated at a certain hour. For example, at noon and midnight, an hour-long electrical storm would take place in the first segment. Other dangers encountered by the tributes included blood rain, carnivorous monkeys, insects, a tidal wave, a fog-like gas that caused chemical burns to the skin and nerve damage, and a section of the jungle in which tributes were trapped with jabberjays that imitated the screams of their loved ones. The center of the island could also rotate, disorienting those attempting to master the clock strategy.
After the rebellion, the arenas were destroyed and replaced by memorials.
The last living tribute of the Hunger Games is the victor. After the Games, the victor receives extreme medical treatment in the Capitol to recover from all the injuries during the Games, followed by a final celebration during which they are interviewed and crowned victor by the President of Panem. Once the festivities are over, the victor returns to live in his or her District in an area called the "Victor's Village", where houses are well-furnished and equipped with luxuries such as hot water and telephones. All families in the victor's District receive additional parcels of food and other goods for a year. About six months after the Games, the victor participates in the Victory Tour. In every District, the victor is given a celebration and ceremony, usually accompanied by a victory rally and dinner with senior district officials.
However, the victors' involvement with the games and the Capitol does not end there. Their lives are under constant surveillance by the Capitol to prevent them from organizing an insurgency or rebellion within the districts. If they do not behave "properly" within the games or outside of it, the Capitol will not punish them directly to prevent them from becoming "martyrs", but instead they will punish their loved ones. This is exemplified with Haymitch, who lost his family and girlfriend due to his unorthodox way of winning his game, while Johanna is implied to have lost her family due to her disobedience. Victors who are particularly attractive will be sold by the Capitol as prostitutes to the highest bidder. One example of this is Finnick, who served as prostitute to the Capitol citizens, both men and women, under the threat of having his girlfriend, the fellow victor Annie, tortured. The victors also have to mentor the incoming tributes for the next games. This is particularly cruel to Haymitch; with his being the only living victor of District 12 prior to the 74th Hunger Games, he has to personally mentor all of the following District 12 tributes only to watch them die in the games. Furthermore, the victors are able to be reaped again to serve the interests of the Capitol. As Haymitch puts it, "Nobody ever wins the games. There are survivors. There's no winners."
The victors of the Hunger Games usually forms friendship with each other, having shared the experiences of brutality. In Finnick and Annie's case, their attraction turns into love. While this is a factor for the increased pressure for the 75th Hunger Games, this means that the victors can relay information about rebel planning that is revealed in Catching Fire. In the book, it is revealed that half of the tributes of the game are part of a conspiracy to break Katniss from the arena and transport her to District 13 to become the face of the rebellion.
Before the start of the 75th Hunger Games, there are a total of 59 out of 75 victors who are still alive, the rest having died of natural causes. A total of 18 victors die during the events of Catching Fire. Furthermore, due to the conspiracy of the 75th Hunger Games, Mockingjay reveals that the Capitol has conducted the "Victor's Purge" to capture, torture, and execute all remaining victors. At the end of the series, there are only 7 victors remaining: one from District 2, 3, 4, and 7 each, and three from District 12.
The Victory Tour
The Victory Tour is a trip across all of the districts of Panem to honor the victor of each Hunger Games. The tour is usually held six months after the games to keep the horror of the games fresh in the minds of those living in the districts. The Victory Tour usually starts at District 12 and then goes in descending district order to District 1. The victor's district is skipped and saved for the very last. In Catching Fire the tour starts in District 11 because the victors live in District 12. After attending celebrations in the Capitol, the victor returns to their home district for celebrations paid for by The Capitol. In Catching Fire Katniss looked forward to the feast in District 12 during which everyone could eat their fill. Before the tour, the victor's prep team and stylist prepare the victor to show off for the crowds of people just as when they appeared in the Capitol before the games. After their victory in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta try to convince President Coriolanus Snow that they are in love with each other in their Victory Tour.
Fauna unique to Panem
Panem uses genetic engineering to create animals which figure into the Hunger Games or otherwise serve its political purposes.
Jabberjays are small, crested black birds created by the Capitol during the Dark Days. They posess the capability to remember and precisely mimic human speech, allowing their use to spy on rebels. The rebels figured out the birds' purpose, and defeated it by giving the birds disinformation. When the Capitol discovered this, the birds were abandoned in the wilderness, intended to die because they were exclusively male. However, they bred with female mockingbirds and created a new hybrid species, the mockingjay.
During the third Quarter Quell in Catching Fire, the Capitol uses jabberjays in the arena to demoralize the tributes by repeating faked screams of their loved ones. Finnick hears his lover Annie, and Katniss hears her sister Prim, her mother, Gale, and Gale's family. She attempts to shoot all the screaming birds, but eventually gives up.
Mockingjays are black and white birds created accidentally by the mating of engineered jabberjays with female mockingbirds, after rebels discovered and defeated the jabberjays' purpose. After the emergence of mockingjays, their jabberjay progenitors became, as Katniss states in Catching Fire, "as rare and tough as rocks". The Mockingjay does not have the ability to enunciate words, but can perfectly copy the melody and harmony of human singing. District 11 is known to have an especially large mockingjay population, and they are used there to signal the end of the work day.
The mockingjay is a source of embarrassment to the Capitol because of its accidental creation, and has become a symbol of governmental resistance. At the beginning of The Hunger Games, Katniss wears a mockingjay pin given to her by Madge Undersee. In Catching Fire, Plutarch Heavanesbee shows Katniss that his pocket watch displays a holographic mockingjay. In Mockingjay, Katniss is given the identity of "the Mockingjay", as an inspirational character to the rebels, wearing a mockingjay-inspired costume.
Tracker jackers are wasps engineered to be extremely aggressive, tracking their victims and stinging with extremely painful, hallucinogenic, and potentially fatal venom. Katniss drops a tracker jacker nest on several tributes during her first Hunger Games, killing two of them. Katniss and several other tributes are stung and hallucinate. The Capitol uses the venom in a process of torture and brainwashing known as "hijacking". The venom targets the part of the brain that controls fear and confusion, and is used to distort the victim's memories. The technique is used on Peeta in Mockingjay, in an attempt to turn him into an assassin against Katniss.
Presumably a cross between the goose and gosling, the groosling is an edible wild bird the size of a wild turkey. Katniss hunts it in the first book of the series. Rue states that it is commonly found in District 11. They are spotted and hunted frequently in the 74th Hunger Games.
Wolf "muttations" or "mutts" appeared at the end of the 74th Hunger Games to draw Katniss, Peeta, and Cato into a final fight. The wolf-like creatures mimicked the deceased tributes, particularly in fur and eye color, but also with collars which match the tributes' district numbers. One wolf Katniss identifies as Rue, and others as Glimmer, Foxface, the boy from District 9, and Thresh. They were created by the Gamemakers to draw the three remaining tributes together for the finale. Peeta later creates a painting of the wolf mutt supposed to be Glimmer. It took him three days to find the right shade for sunlight on white fur. He "kept thinking it was just yellow, but it was so much more than that." When he is shot in the hand with an arrow, Cato falls off the Cornucopia; Cato's fight for survival against the mutts goes on for several hours before Katniss shoots him in the skull with an arrow out of pity. He would not have survived for so long without his suit of body armor and a hidden sword or knife. In the film adaptation, the mutts resemble Rottweiler dogs.
These creatures are seen in Mockingjay in the underground tunnels of the Capitol, supposedly created especially to hunt Katniss down as their voices hissed her name. They are human-sized and described as having tight, white skin, long sharp claws and teeth. They also smell of roses, thought to be so because Katniss hates the smell of the Capitol's altered roses, due to their association with President Snow. They can jump extremely far and are capable of decapitating their victims with a single bite. Katniss kills the mutts with a Holo device that she throws into the underground tunnel. These mutts are responsible for the deaths of Finnick Odair, Jackson, Castor, and Homes by beheading them on the wild chase.
The 75th Games included "muttation" monkeys, with razor-sharp claws, wickedly sharp teeth, and orange fur, that would attack during the 4th hour of the "clock". They attacked the tributes in packs when Peeta glanced up at them, but the woman victor from 6, or 'female morphling', as Katniss calls her, jumps in front of Peeta to save his life, as she was part of the alliance formed to defend Katniss and Peeta with their lives. On the clock, the monkeys are the 3:00–4:00 section.
During the 50th Quarter Quell, Haymitch struck an temporary alliance with a female tribute from his district named Maysilee Donner. After they break off this alliance, Haymitch hears her screams and runs to her. He sees a flock of candy-pink birds attacking Maysilee, who spear her throat with their razor-sharp beaks as he arrives. He stays with her as she dies, just as Katniss stays with Rue.
Flora unique to Panem
Nightlock is a wild and extremely toxic berry. The plant will kill almost as soon as it is ingested, and it becomes a major plot device in The Hunger Games, first appearing as the berries Peeta has gathered. Katniss doesn't know he has picked them but once she sees them she identifies them as nightlock. Luckily, he has not eaten any before one of the remaining tributes, District 5' Finch, steals them and eats them, dying immediately. Katniss and Peeta take some with them, hoping that Cato falls for the same trick as Finch. The berries appear again at the climax of the novel, where the previously-instated rule of a District's two tributes being allowed to win together is revoked. Instead of battling each other, Katniss suggests that they eat the berries at the same time, hoping that the Gamemakers will change their minds and allow both of them to live. Their plan works, and both Katniss and Peeta are announced as winners before they swallow the berries, the Capitol having decided that the Hunger Games would be ruined if no one survived.
The plant nightlock likely takes its name from the real plants nightshade and hemlock, both of which are deadly poisons. These berries may refer back to Collins' previous allusions to the story of Romeo and Juliet, because of her use of the phrase "star-crossed lovers" and the suicidal nature of Romeo and Juliet's death.
In the last Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, District 13 makes a pill out of this mysterious plant and gives one to each person in the plan of rebellion. The participants in this plan are to swallow it immediately if they are captured so that the Capitol's guards cannot torture any information out of them.
The phrase 'nightlock, nightlock, nightlock' activates the self-destruct function in the Holo, a holographic map used by the rebels in Mockingjay to display the location of the Capitol's defense pods.
Tracker Jacker antidote leaves
In the 74th Hunger Games, Rue uses an orchards leaves to treat Katniss' tracker jacker stings. Katniss recognizes the leaves as something that her mother used, but by a different method. While Rue utilizes the leaves by chewing them into a pulp then applying them directly to the tracker jacker stings, Katniss' mother stewed the leaves to make an infusion which the patient then drinks. Also in the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss applies the leaves of the same plant to Peeta's leg wound (inflicted by Cato) in the hope of warding off infection. The application causes pus to run out of his leg and the swelling to go down temporarily.
- Collins (2008), p. 18.
- Collins (2010), p. 223.
- Collins (2008), p. 41.
- Collins 2010, pp. 82-83.
- Collins (2008), p. 61.
- "The Capitol". The Capitol - The Official Government of Panem.
- Carpenter, Susan (23 August 2010). ""Mockingjay" by Suzanne Collins: Book Review". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
- Dill, Margo (20 July 2010). "Catching Fire Discussion Questions (Chapters Ten Through Fifteen)". Bright Hub. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
- Marglios, Rick (1 August 2010). "The Last Battle: With 'Mockingjay' on its way, Suzanne Collins weighs in on Katniss and the Capitol". School Library Journal. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
- Rosen, Michael (16 April 2012). "What is the moral message of The Hunger Games?". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- Collins, Suzanne (2008). The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press. ISBN 0-439-02348-3.
- Collins, Suzanne (2009). Catching Fire. Scholastic Press. ISBN 978-0-439-02349-8.
- Collins, Suzanne (2010). Mockingjay. Scholastic Press. ISBN 978-0-439-02351-1.
- The Capitol – fictional website for the Capitol