Human Flesh, Christmas Carols, and Mockingjay Press

Despite the veritable plague that has over taken half of the principle cast, everyone seems to be putting their best foot forward, and in Jennifer’s case Strep Throat diagnosis or not, she’s stepping foot on nearly every stage, carpet, or otherwise, in a stylish black and white ensemble.

Today I was home in the morning, this was an unprecedented occurrence as I’m usually up and out to work by 8am most days. But not today, today I had the morning off, which meant one thing: I was able to catch Josh Hutcherson on Live with Kelly and Michael, AKA the second most irritating couple on morning American TV next to Hoda and Kathy Lee! So, while I figuratively bit my hand so I wouldn’t fling the remote at Michael or Kelly’s giant heads, I was able to watch two sugary sweet segments of Josh being regaled with pat questions about hair conditioning, and then less sugary sweet subjects like his desire to try human flesh if it was ever offered to him. This only made me think one thing, maybe Josh really wants to do a remake of Alive, the 1993 film about the Uruguayan rugby team that survived after a plane crash in the Andes by resorting to eating the bodies of their dead friends, and fellow passengers. And, none of that can be considered a spoiler any longer, because it came out in ’93, twenty or more years in my humble opinion is ample time to know the plot of films like like Alive. Yes, Josh is a weirdo, but he’s our weirdo– which brings me to Jennifer’s appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

As of when I am writing this article on the west coast of the United States, Letterman has not aired yet. However, a two-minute clip of Jen’s appearance was released well before air-time of the show in its entirety. And this is what we learned from the clip: Jen and Dave still have an unshakable rapport. Jen looks amazing even though she’s probably still sick as a dog. Dave tried to get her to sing, but Jen was Jen– and ended up demonstrating her singing chops with an anecdote involving her father’s merciless teasing, and a guttural rendition of Holly Jolly Christmas. The most important thing to be learned from this clip however, is that apparently Jen’s voice will be the voice we’ll hear when Katniss sings The Hanging Tree in Mockingjay Part 1. So from the horses mouth, or the girl who likes horses mouth, we now know it’s true– Jen’s singing for reals in Mockingjay Part 1.

Have a holly jolly Christmas guys! Oh wait, it’s November!

Them There Eyes

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VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: Bread and Circuses in The Hunger Games and the Roman Empire

SURPRISE! We have one more entry in the Victor’s Village student series! This last one is a thought-provoking, meaty article from HGBC’s “assistant fangirl” (aka teaching assistant), peetasgirl!

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In the Roman Empire:

The phrase, “bread and circuses,” was coined during the time of the ancient Roman Empire by Juvenal, a satirical writer. In its original Latin form, the phrase would have been “panem et circenses,” or “bread and games.” This statement has become a common phrase, even in modern political satire. It describes a self-serving government (or emperor) who has done nothing to serve the people, yet is able to maintain popularity by offering state-sponsored “gifts” of food and entertainment. Essentially a bribe, which is unknowingly taken, but which still has the desired effect. It is an underhanded tactic to maintain power and control over a people.

“Panem et circenses” was an actual political strategy, used by the Roman Emperors and Senators to maintain their powerful positions of authority over an ever-increasing span of Empire. These leaders correctly realized that if the general populace – vast in number – were to become dissatisfied with their government, it would be easily overthrown. Later in the Roman Empire, these entitlements had become so popular, that sponsoring the “games” became the peoples’ expectation. Rulers were often judged, not by their effectiveness as public servants, but by the quality of the games/gifts sponsored.

When “panem et circenses” was first penned by Juvenal, he was attempting to awaken the common people to their pathetic attitude of complacency. It was a wake-up call. Juvenal saw himself as a voice to the people, and decried the selfishness and ignorance that he witnessed in the general populace. Roman citizens, who had once proudly participated in their government, had willingly laid aside their civic responsibilities. Instead, they had become satisfied with temporary appeasements from a self-serving government. The citizens had sold their inheritance for a bowl of soup, satisfying the immediate appetites, but at a terrible cost – the loss of their rights in government.

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In The Hunger Games:

The post-apocalyptic nation of Panem draws its name from the first part of Juvenal’s phrase. At first, it seems quite ironic to name a nation “bread,” when its people have so little food. As I think about this, I think it was a brilliant move on the part of the author – it sets up the entire dystopia.

imagesThings are not as they ought to be in Panem. The nation’s name is Panem (bread), which is the one thing that everyone needs in order to survive (food). Naming a nation “bread” implies a land of plenty and promise – provision for all. This is implied in the name. It is a very hopeful name. The government wants to capitalize upon this hope, and BECOME the hope of the people. For this reason, any other source of hope (Katniss) can be dangerous.

The government of Panem made some very calculated moves, in order to be viewed as the sole provider of both bread and hope. There is plenty of bread, but not for everyone. The government (the provider) decides who gets the bread. They use the people’s hope and need as a means of both physical and psychological control. They keep the people hungry, keep them hoping for more, giving grain to the Districts monthly (but never too much), in order to maintain their image as “the provider.” What Panem’s leaders have created is a state of total dependence. By so doing, they ensure that the citizens in the Districts would never rebel against the hand that literally feeds them. The Districts cannot rebel against the Capitol – it is their only hope of survival.

The Capitol itself is another matter. If the citizens in the Capitol were to rebel against the government, there would be upheaval in all of Panem. The Capitol’s citizens live in such close proximity to President Snow and the government agencies, they could easily stage an effective coup. So, it is in the Capitol that we see the Roman Empire’s strategy of “panem et circenses” employed to its fullest extent.

Capitol citizens receive much more than bread – they may have all the food they wish. It is a society where excess has become the status quo. Their entertainment – the “circenses” – is sponsored by the state via The Hunger Games. Tributes fight to the death for the amusement of the Capitol’s citizens, giving them an exciting diversion, and distracting them from the reality of Panem’s national condition.

Crafted by one of HGBC's students

Crafted by one of HGBC’s students

We read about them in the books, living lives of extravagance, and we want to shake them and shout, “Wake up! Can’t you see how all the other Districts in your country are suffering, while you live so luxuriously? It’s not fair!” This is what Juvenal thought about the Romans, and why he made his famous “bread and circuses” statement long ago. Like the citizens of Rome, the citizens of the Capitol are completely ignorant of others’ hardships; they are asleep. The government prefers this, and carefully controls the media to portray the Districts as they see fit.

Capitol citizens are content to never think beyond their own self-centered lives, because they have been appeased by the government, and pacified by the media. They, too, are prisoners of the state of Panem, dependent upon the government as the sole provider of their “bread and circuses.” Unlike the citizens of the Districts, however, the Capitol’s people are completely unaware. They fail to realize their true position.

In Mockingjay, it becomes an especially harsh reality for the Capitol citizens to face, having the thin veneer of “bread and circuses” ripped away. For the first time, they witness what the government – and, unknowingly, themselves – had been carefully orchestrating for 75 years: A volatile nation, filled with governmental corruption and lies, where the wealth of the few weighs heavily upon the shoulders of the poor and starving.

Is it any wonder why Snow works to hard to keep everyone in the dark? To be the only hope?
Peetasgirl

The Big Big Big Mockingjay Part 1 World Premiere

It’s Mockingjay Part 1 World Premiere Day! And the lucky attendees are watching the movie RIGHT NOW. We really want to be those people. A lot. But we’re stuck telling ourselves that it’s ok – once we see the movie, we’re stuck back to waiting 365 more days to Part 2. And that brings its own struggles.

Hello Glamorous People

Hello Glamorous People

The part of the premiere that we COULD see was livestreamed on Yahoo UK, which is a mix of the host repeating herself ad nauseum to kill time while awaiting someone to arrive, watching the stars pose and sign things for the excited fans, and some super-quick interviews. All very shallow and silly sure, BUT WE LOVE IT and wait all year for this craziness.

Some highlights from the livestream:

  • Francis Lawrence teased that yes, there is one remaining scene to film. And Jennifer later said that he had promised her it would involve a horse. We’re not so sure about how that’s going to work, but we’ll let the two of them work that out.
  • Nina has enjoyed interacting with fans on twitter. So continue being nice to her so she keeps tweeting us little teases. She was the saving grace of the long winter of no Mockingjay news in 2014.
  • We want to listen to Jeffrey Wright discuss the books for hours, not just a minute. Let’s make that happen. He can bring anyone else from the cast too.
  • Jena Malone is aware of the fanart and fanfiction. Does she read the fanfiction though? We want to know.
  • The host tried to say that Effie and Katniss were “best friends” and Elizabeth Banks found a way to graciously find a way around that completely wrong comment without making the interviewer aware of how dumb it was.
  • Josh Hutcherson was well enough to attend the premiere, but still not fully recovered. It didn’t seem to scare away any of the screaming fans though (we get it – I GOT JOSH HUTCHERSON GERMS is a fun story to bring home with you. Just maybe stay away from your friends for a while to keep from passing it along).

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Finally, this cast is gorgeous and appreciates us, even when we scream and shove things at them to sign. We really love them for that.

Can we see the movie yet?

JJ

 

 

 

Mockingjay Still-O-Rama Reactions

Mockingjay is less than two weeks away! Besides press tour interviews galore (and the return to the entire cast seemingly getting sick at once), there’s something else coming in droves: NEW STILLS AND BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGES!

Of course, you don’t just see a still. You see it and you have a reaction. Sometimes it’s just a basic “Oh that’s cool!” or “Meh”, but sometimes it’s something much bigger. So let’s share those more substantial reactions:

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Effie’s eyebrows are in a semi-natural state! Now are they gray-ish from years of over-treatment, plucking, etc? Or are we actually supposed to believe that homegirl has naturally light blonde eyebrows? Because as a natural blonde, that does not happen! Wait, what’s Effie’s natural hair color? Does SHE even know?!

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WIIIIIIIIIG! It’s like “The Mole” scene from Austin Powers for us at certain points. It’s not a bad wig– it’s actually a good one, hairline-wise and all that jazz. But you started thinking about how shiny and perfectly wavy her hair looks and then OH YEAH IT’S A WIG. Because nobody’s real hair ever stays that nice. We mean, Woody has a wig too but his reflects his character, thus is a total mess.

District13-4

Is that District 13 schematic just like… their screensaver or something? When they don’t have anything relevant to their missions, is that always just there in the background like “HEY GUYS! THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE!”? We’ve seen a lot of that sucker!

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Paylor in contrast to Katniss, Gale, and the film squad is beautiful. She’s got this very salt-to-the-Earth look that’s we’re digging. She is a part of a grassroot rebel movement. They don’t no stinkin’ armor! Okay, they need it, but they don’t have it and they fight anyway. And that is true badassery.

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Snow’s office is awesome and all, but there are young people lined up in Capitol clothing in the upper right-hand corner of this photo. Why are they there? Are they supporters? Could they be consorts toted around the city like Finnick and Johanna were? What are you doing to them Snow?!

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So you’re telling me that the dude with the cowboy hat and mutton chops is NOT in the movie? DAMMIT! DAMMIT ALL TO HELL! WHY NOT?!

Mockingjay Press Has Begun!

Over the last several years of covering all things and everything Hunger Games, there are a handful of things that always remain the same. Two of them are that when there’s no news, it’s like a desert wasteland. However, when there is Hunger Games news and/ or press, it’s like a crashing avalanche down a mountain side. I can’t keep track of all the press, and the announcements for press that have come out within the last couple of days! I know that the majority of the cast are in Europe in preparation for the world premiere of Mockingjay Part 1 this coming week in London. So when Liam and Jennifer show up on German television sans Josh, ’cause Josh is ill– I’m not in as much of a clamor as

Perfectly coiffed, and fresh from the ER, that's our Jen!

Perfectly coiffed, and fresh from the ER, that’s our Jen!

I maybe should be, ’cause if I am at level 100 on the excitement scale every single time these people show up on TV over the next few weeks, I think I’ll die of exhaustion, or an aneurism, take your pick. All that being said and done, if anything is like how it was last year during and after the whirlwind press for Catching Fire, the cast are going to be sick as dogs by the time they get to Los Angeles– and in perfect Jennifer Lawrence fashion, she’ll be whisked off to the emergency room with acute abdominal pains, then show up to the premiere looking coiffed, and refined in Chanel.

I suggest you start somewhere though, press coverage wise– because following it all as it unfolds is near impossible unless you spend your life on Twitter, or your phone– or both. Most of the top Hunger Games fan-site are keeping track of everything for us lazy lots though, so if you get lost– go here, and just start clicking! You can’t go wrong with watching a few of the interviews that have come out, or will be coming out, but mix it up a bit, because they are going to start repeating them selves, ’cause journalists have a tendency of asking them same questions over and over again. So if Josh Hutcherson starts to look glazed over, and not just from the fevered illness he’s already infected with, and he starts sounding incredibly robotic, switch to something else! Like perhaps Jennifer Lawrence drawing horses on cakes.

Pace your selves guys! And remember to hydrate. BTW, props to Jen for still doing press while she feels like death warmed over!

Them There Eyes

Meeting Cressida and Crew

The deluge of Mockingjay stuff has begun, and it’s hard to know where to begin. Actually it’s not, because there’s ANOTHER clip, with Cressida introducing her crew to Katniss as they’re about to take off in the hovercraft.

It's time to go to work, Mockingjay

It’s time to go to work, Mockingjay

This is the first time we’ve gotten to hear Natalie Dormer speak as Cressida. As we would expect, she doesn’t have the Capitol affectation that Effie does in her speech. But there was something surprising about the way she talks.  Maybe it’s her hard, no-nonsense tone, or maybe it’s Dormer’s interpretation of a person raised in the Capitol who wants to cut all ties with the culture, or more likely it’s just me not being used to hearing Natalie Dormer with an American accent. I loved her line “We all fled on our own. For this. For you.” She delivers it with a mix of pride and condescension, but it doesn’t make you dislike her because it’s clear that they’ve all made sacrifices to be where they are today. No, Katniss, Plutarch did not rescue us. We made the decision to leave, risked our lives to escape to this completely uncomfortable life in the concrete bunker of District 13. But we did it FOR YOU. Could you please buck up and help with the cause now? It’s tough love, but it seems to fit the character.

You've had like 5 seconds of screen time and we already love you.

You’ve had like 10 seconds of screen time and we already love you.

It will be interesting to see how Cressida, and the whole crew, evolve over the next two movies. In the books, none of them are very well fleshed out as our narrator Katniss was mostly concerned with her own troubles. So these movies will give us an opportunity to see them outside Katniss’s lense.

We can’t say much about Messalla or Boggs, other than they were all business in this first meeting, but I liked to see the interaction between Castor and Pollux as they were signing to one another. Just with that little moment you could feel the bond they have, which was nice. I think we’re going to fall in love with them.

Now to watch more of the many things released today!

JJ

The Mockingjay Clip That Left Us With One Wish

Have you been hiding in an underground bunker recently? If so, you my not know this already, but… THE FIRST MOCKINGJAY CLIP IS HERE! And it’s a heart-wrencher!

OBSERVE!

For people who don’t know the books, this clip is misleading. It almost looks like Peeta is friendly with Caesar Flickerman and possibly even enjoying their conversation. Sure, you can hear the hitch in his voice, but someone might assume it’s because of the tense subject– the surprise ending of the Quarter Quell. His tone could even represent his disappointment in what Katniss did and shiny new alliance with The Capitol. But we also think this clip is meant to be misleading.

Of course, we know better, but think about it: Katniss is really the one person who believes that Peeta isn’t willingly working in conjunction with the Capitol. The audience shouldn’t fully believe that he’s being held against his will, either. We’ll see Katniss advocating his innocence constantly, slowly the audience will start to believe her despite every other character being skeptical because she’s the protagonist, only to see him attempt to murder her somewhere toward the end, and it’ll be a glass case of emotion, Ron Burgundy style.

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I’m imagining that clip wise, we probably won’t see much Peeta outside of this one. Because it sets up that “Wait.. is Peeta a traitor now?” mindset that will make moviegoers eager to solve the mystery. Anything to negate that would be kind of counter-productive. Of course, that doesn’t mean other clips won’t mention Peeta. He’s kind of a big discussion point in this one and scenes discussing what should be done with him will be pretty spoiler-free on the grand scale of the story.

Another thing we’re loving about this? The dialogue is very, very similar to the book. With this script, screenwriters seem to have really taken the time to figure out what quotes from the book really work on film rather than simply trying to rephrase everything. We think it’s a really nice homage to the original story.

Oh, And Our One Wish? MOAR CLIPS!

The Girl With The Pearl

VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: Hunger Games History

We’re back with another installment of the Student Series! This time, HGBC’s class is digging into the historic events that likely inspired the series!

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I can hear Caesar Flickerman doing a “Whoo whoo whoo!”

I can hear Caesar Flickerman doing a “Whoo whoo whoo!”

If you haven’t noticed the correlation between ‘The Hunger Games’ and history… well, my friends, you’ve missed some of the whole point of how Suzanne Collins wrote the books. Not only did she intentionally write the reaping as a version of the “Theseus and the Minotaur” Greek myth, and Katniss’ story a reinvention of the real slave-turned-gladiator-turned-rebel Spartacus, but so much of the setting of the books is from your Roman history book. The tributes, the arenas, most of the names of Capitol citizens, and the Capitol’s excess: it all comes from Rome. In the following post, one of my high school students explains the connection of Roman gladiators to ‘The Hunger Games’.

From cactus: When you are first reading or explained the concept of the Hunger Games, the first word that will spring to mind is “Gladiator”. But the Games are even more similar to Roman gladiators than you might think. Here are the examples:

Roman inspired with a twist of sci fi

Roman inspired with a twist of sci fi

The easiest similarity to find (which is mostly based off of stereotypes and assumptions we make about Roman gladiators, which is actually a relatively small part of their culture, concerning their gladiatorial games) is probably the tributes fighting to the death in an enclosed arena.

Best scenario: to be attacked by a Mutt or a lion?

Best scenario: to be attacked by a Mutt or a lion?

What a lot of people don’t know is that the Gladiators were living in poverty, like 90% of the tributes, before they were chosen or forced into the arena. Many of the gladiators were, in fact, prisoners of war, or slaves, which can also be related to the people of the districts. But if and when a gladiator is victorious over his or her opponents, they are showered in riches, much like the victor of the Hunger Games. The only difference is that a lot of the time, even the victorious gladiator is sent back into the arena to fight again for the audience’s amusement, but even then, ‘Catching Fire’ can slightly relate to that when all of the tributes are former victors.

In Rome, they also had people fight animals, like lions for entertainment, or publicly executed Christians or “Pagans” in the arena. So whatever dystopian vibe ‘The Hunger Games’ emits, ancient Rome was far more corrupt and violent.

What about Rome and reality television? Tag, you’re it.
Hunger Games Bookclub

VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: No Place For A Girl On Fire

We’re back with Part 2 of our 3-part Student Series! Check out squirrelonfire’s thoughts on the power of repetition in the trilogy. Also, how much do you love that tag name?!

Be sure to comment and tell HGBC and her students what you think!

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One of my favorite things about in-depth re-reads of this trilogy is finding all the little phrases and words that Suzanne Collins used to build these books. For example, she describes Peeta as strong and steady repeatedly in ‘The Hunger Games’. That is one reason why it is so devastating when Peeta becomes… well… not steady. Another favorite repeated word is “owe”. When Haymitch brings home two victors instead of one, she owes him. When Finnick saves Peeta’s life, she owes him. AND SHE HATES OWING ANYONE ANYTHING!

I promise myself I will defeat his plan

I promise myself I will defeat his plan

One of my students goes into depth on this topic…

By squirrelonfire: “Catching Fire” has many themes of repetition, one of which being that Katniss keeps thinking about what she owes everyone (mostly Peeta). Katniss and Haymitch both agree that they owe Peeta, but they have different ideas of what that means. Katniss believe that since Haymitch worked so hard in the last games to keep her alive that it is Peeta’s turn to get saved. And Haymitch thinks that since he helped Katniss last time, Peeta gets to choose what he wants in these games. This is very interesting in how it plays out because Peeta will stop at nothing to save Katniss, while Katniss is trying to save Peeta but still not sure what she wants. Katniss is always changing her mind about what she owes different people. I think that it would be exhausting, but Suzanne Collins uses it as a tactic to write how Katniss thinks about different people and situations.

No place for a girl like me? Just watch me, Snow.

No place for a girl like me? Just watch me, Snow.

One of the other topics that I find interesting is the “Girl on Fire” as the theme of how the public (in the Capitol as well as the districts) views her. In the Capitol, it is just a fascinating fad started by a talented stylist and they love it, but the people in the districts see it as much more. In the districts, it is a spark that will start a fire that is rebellion. And they use her and her mockingjay as a symbol of defiance. “Girl on Fire” isn’t only how the public views Katniss, but also how she views herself. I really like the last sentence of “Catching Fire” Part II where she sees the arena and thinks: This is no place for a girl on fire.

Perhaps you “owe” it to yourself to find your own favorite repetition,

Hunger Games Bookclub

VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: Catching Fire Flashback

We’ve got a short but very exciting new series here on Victor’s Village! Our friend Hunger Games Bookclub is now teaching The Hunger Games to our youth as part of her Creative Writing class!

For the next three days, we’ll be posting guest posts from HGBC and her students, gaining unique perspectives on a series that they’ve (understandably) become very enthusiastic about! We’re calling it our “Student Series”. Almost sounds professional, right?!

By all means, please share your thoughts about the posts with HGBC and her teen students!

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*Spoiler Alert*

Flashback to the first time that you read ‘Catching Fire’: the gasp when you realized Peeta had been taken hostage and the chill in your bones at Gale’s words,

“Katniss, there is no District Twelve.”

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Kindergarten Katniss and Peeta? Awwww!

Were you a teenager? Those of us fans that discovered ‘The Hunger Games’ in our adult years sometimes forget that the trilogy was written for the teens. Teaching a high school class on ‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy has given me opportunity to look at Katniss’ story again through fresh (much younger!) eyes. The following are excerpts written by several of my students from an assignment on Literary Devices in the books. I hope it reminds you that Suzanne Collins not only wrote an action-packed trilogy, but she also told a layered, complex story in a way that was accessible for young adult readers.

From thereisnodistrict14: A flashback is a literary device used by authors to convey a message to the reader. It is when a character suddenly remembers something from a long time ago in their life. For example, there is a flashback in ‘Catching Fire’ where Peeta and Katniss are outside the train on the tracks during a train malfuntion. Peeta is telling Katniss about when she was in school and he had a secret crush on her and she sang a song in class. The author is using this flashback to convey to the reader that there is a deeper level to Katniss and Peeta’s artificial romance.

On the count of three?

On the count of three?

From dontbeastupidfangirl: Symbolism is… an object that represents something different to give it deeper meaning. Sometimes an action, event, or word can have symbolic value… The Mockingjay is a perfect example of symbolism in ‘The Hunger Games’. It represents the spark of rebellion, the unity of the districts against the Capitol, and the rebellion itself. Another form of symbolism is when Katniss pulls out the poison berries and she and Peeta threaten to kill themselves rather than each other. It symbolizes the districts being fed-up with what the Capitol is forcing them to do. Suzanne Collins did an excellent job with symbolism in ‘The Hunger Games’ series.

From cactus: In ‘The Hunger Games’ the spark was the metaphor for the main plot to be resolved later in the trilogy; the rebellion, and the spark meaning the slow birth of rebellious behavior among the districts. In ‘Catching Fire’, the main plot stems from the “spark” from book one igniting and “catching fire”. This creates uprisings in the districts and sets up the last book to full blown rebellion and war. This is clear symbolism. They even use Katniss’ symbol as the mockingjay to intertwine with the whole catching fire theme, when she twirls and her wedding dress “catches fire” and the fire consumes the dress (another symbol for the Capitol’s strong hold, deciding even what clothes you wear) and transforms it into something new: a mockingjay. I love this scene. It uses three big symbols to tell the story of this entire book in a matter of lines.

Caesar's face says it all!

Caesar’s face says it all!

Take it from my students… don’t you owe yourself a re-read?
Hunger Games Bookclub