Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blog Entry #10

Final Blog

      Before entering this class I had not read any of the Hunger Games books and I was not sure what to expect. I enjoyed this class and I especially enjoyed reading the books because they were great books and very interesting to read. This SIS class related The Hunger Games trilogy to a variety of different topics and disciplines, requiring the students to think outside the box and truly analyze the books.
      This semester we related The Hunger Games to many different disciplines such as dystopian literature, gender roles, philosophy, religion and reality television. From simply reading the books I would not have been able to make all of these connections on my own. The most interesting guest speaker in my opinion was Dr. Raley and her lecture on gender roles. I found it very interesting to analyze gender roles in today's society and compare them to the roles each of the main characters play in The Hunger Games. After analysis of the characters, it is clear that Peeta and Katniss play almost reversed gender roles; Katniss being the protector and caretaker while Peeta is the sensitive and romantic type. Relating The Hunger Games to reality television was also interesting because I would have never made that connection from simply reading the books. Once it had been pointed out to me I began to realize how many similarities there are between the two. Although it is voluntary, some reality television shows torture their contestants as well, just like the Gamemakers do in The Hunger Games. I also really enjoyed listening to Mr. Rubin Sztajer speak about his experience during the Holocaust. It is not rare that one receive an opportunity to listen to an individual who has had first hand experience in Nazi Germany and the concentration camps. Of course one cannot compare his experiences in the concentration camps to a fiction Hunger Games, but it was still interesting to hear about and realize that people can be treated as cruelly as President Snow treats the citizens of the Districts of Panem.

     I thought that this class was challenging because sometimes it is hard to see the connections between The Hunger Games and the various other disciplines and topics. One must truly analyze the books in order to find these connections. I feel that I read each book in depth and that I was able to fully understand the main points and details of each of the books. It is imperative to see how important Katniss is as at the Mockingjay and how her role is developed throughout her actions in each of the three books. Listening to the guest speakers and discussing the books in class helped me understand the connections better and ultimately made it easier to write my blog at the end of the week.
     Overall I believe that this was an interesting class and it was able to help me realize how similar our society may actually be to The Hunger Games. Without this class I would have never made these connections and thought about the books in this manner.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blog Entry #9

       The nature of evil is a major topic represented in The Hunger Games trilogy. There are many instances in which one may analyze the evil actions of specific characters throughout the books.
       Dr. Baron, a philosophy professor, discussed the different types of ethics that exist - utilitarianism, consequentialism, deontology, virtue and care. Utilitarianists believe that the right action is the one that maximizes utility. The actions produce the greatest balance of pleasure over pain for the greatest number of people. For example, President Coin and President Snow are two great examples of people that would be considered evil through this type of ethics. Both of these individuals do NOT act for the greater good, instead the only think about themselves.

       Consequentialists believe that the morally right action depends on the consequences and focuses on the possible outcomes. In The Hunger Games the reader may see a few examples of this type of ethics. When Katniss and Peeta threaten to eat the berries at the end of the 74th annual Hunger Games they had to weigh out the possible outcomes, as did the Gamemakers when they chose to have two winners. Other examples may be when the tributes such as Johanna and Finnick sacrifice themselves in order to protect Katniss, who will eventually be the symbol of the revolution. Also when Katniss is supposed to kill President Snow but kills President Coin instead.
      Deontology is the theory that the morally right action is independent of consequences and focuses on duties and obligation. This includes the formula in the end of itself, which states that you cannot use people for your own benefit, as well as the formula of universal law which states never to do anything that you would not want other people to do in that same situation. Deontologists believe that it is never acceptable to lie. In The Hunger Games Haymitch and the rest of the rebels hide the truth about the rebellion from Katniss. When she enters the Quarter Quell she has no idea that many of the tributes around her are planning to revolt against the Capitol. She later finds out when she escapes the arena and realizes that Peeta has been taken by the Capitol.
       Virtue Ethics state the traits and characteristics that make a good person. The golden mean is when one takes into account actions/feelings and creates an appropriate response, which is usually the mean (somewhere in the middle). This type of ethics is portrayed when Katniss volunteers for Prim. Many may say that Katniss represents characteristics that make her a good person, which include her courageousness.

       Finally, care ethics include thinking about others and their well being. Katniss exemplifies this type of philosophy when she cares for Rue in the 74th Hunger Games. She does not receive any benefit from taking Rue as an ally but she feels that it is the right thing to do to care for Rue. Dr Baron stated that in order to be evil, one must have a specific intent and find pleasure in causing harm to others.

      Gresh takes a different approach on what drives evil forces in the book The Hunger Games Companion. She discusses the biological traits that cause people to act in certain ways; "It's all induced inside the body, specifically by the neuronal connections in the brain" (Gresh, 139). "When a neuron sends information down an axon away from the cell body, neuroscientists say that there is an action potential or that a spike has occurred" (Gresh, 138). Gresh describes the conclusion that evolutionary psychologists have come to in regards to how our minds work. Other theories state that "evil criminals are born with what researchers call criminal or risk genes" (Gresh 135). Basically, these researchers believe that one is born with evil DNA and cannot alter the gene.
     There are many different theories and perceptions on what makes an individual evil. Many of the characters in The Hunger Games possess characteristics in one form or another of evil. Evil actions are seen throughout the entirety of the trilogy through many different individuals.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blog Entry #8

     There have been many criticisms on the role of gender relations and romance in The Hunger Games trilogy. Katniss is not portrayed as a typical female character and Collins strays from the norm when creating a plot consisting of a female main character. This character possesses qualities that are often associated with masculinity and sometimes lacks emotion and other feminine aspects.
       Dr. Raley discussed gender roles in society and in the media, as well as comparing these issues to the storyline of The Hunger Games. Gender differences may be seen through everything that we do including the clothing we wear, the way we behave and the way we speak. Gender relations may vary from culture to culture and also may change over time. For example, in the early 1700's our founding fathers may have been spotted in long coats and high heels, wearing wigs and facial powder. In today's society, if a male was to dress like this he would certainly be stereotyped and picked on. Gender is also seen through the media, where the main characters are usually men, while the women abandon their independence and may be seen as a prize. The Hunger Games is significant because the main character is a girl, Katniss, who is strong and independent. Unlike many novels/movies, she is not dependent on a man, in fact it seems as if Peeta is dependent on her. Her hunting skills, protective instinct, leadership, rebelliousness, and temper are all characteristics that are usually seen in male characters; they may be considered very masculine traits. Katniss is also very unemotional considering that she has two men falling for her, yet she is not particularly romantically interested in either of them. The only reason she continues the romance with Peeta is in order to win over the audience and stay alive in the Hunger Games. This is something that is rarely ever seen in movies/novels today, in which the female is usually extremely emotional and tends to be dependent on the man in her life.

        Pharr and Clark compare the characteristics of Katniss to Bella of Twilight in "Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games." The authors conclude that these two characters are extremely different. For example, "where Bella in consumed by the drama surrounding her romantic life, Katniss remains largely ambivalent about it" (Pharr & Clark, 213). I believe that this is a major reason for the significant difference between the heroines. Bella is the typical girl whose life revolves around her dramatic love triangle, while Katniss couldn't care less about the romance in her life because she has bigger issues to deal with. "While Bella is book smart and has an affinity for literature, Katniss learns survival skills and knows how to skin a lynx." These two are just many of the examples why Katniss is portrayed so differently than normal female lead characters. The lack of emotions in Katniss' character are what make her stand out as an atypical female lead role. "She is unemotional, and she remains emotional detached throughout much of the narrative" (Pharr & Clark, 122). For example, when Katniss leaves for the games she refuses to cry with her sister, Prim, because that would make her look weak, and of course she could not look weak in public. Katniss must stay strong throughout the book in order to protect her mother and sister as well as her "star crossed lover," Peeta. It is almost as if the two switched gender roles in the trilogy due to the fact that Katniss is always protecting him and remaining emotionally detached.

       Katniss' character defies the social norm for gender roles in today's society. It is very difficult to find a good novel/movie that contains this type of heroine as a main character. In accordance with what Dr. Raley stated in her lecture, men are typically seen as the stronger character, while women are not usually portrayed as strong and independent like Katniss.