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The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

The Student News Site of Hendrick Hudson

The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

The Student News Site of Hendrick Hudson

The Hendrick Hudson Anchor

The Hunger Games & the Parallels of Panem

Suzanne Collins is the masterful author of The Hunger Games, the acclaimed young adult series that was able to weave complex ideas of tyranny and war into a novel digestible enough for younger readers. Her writing proved successful, selling widely and creating a series of movies that captured the box office. The Hunger Games brought about an entire renaissance of dystopian novels that attempted to copy the harrowing tale of her series; however none were able to capture the depth that her originals contained. 

This depth has translated into her newest book in The Hunger Games series, a prequel called A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes that tells the origin story of President Snow-–the notorious antagonist of the original series. 

The three main characters in her newest novel—Coriolanus Snow, Sejanus Plinth, and Lucy Gray Baird—are very similar to those in her original series—Katniss Everdeen, Gale Hawthorne, and Peeta Mellark. Each character mirrors the other, respectively, and allows the reader the opportunity to wonder: what could have been?

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Trailer Review. (2023). Lionsgate Films. & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. (2015). Lionsgate Films.

Coriolanus Snow and Katniss Everdeen

In the books, Coriolanus Snow is shown to be an unforgivable character; he’s conniving, cunning, and pretentious. In A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, we get a look into his cruel character: the hate he has for everyone and his belief that anything he wants he deserves. Although he appears charismatic and humble to others, his demonstrated personality proves otherwise. 

Katniss shares these qualities. She gives little importance to those around her, strictly caring only for and trusting her sister, Primrose, and best friend Gale Hawthorne. She hates Prim’s pets (unless they are useful like her goat Lady), is unforgiving of her mother after her devastation from the death of Katniss’ father caused her to almost abandon her family, and is ready to do anything for those she loves — even at the expense of others.

Unlike Snow, however, she makes no effort to hide these qualities. She wears her heart on her sleeve and as the series progresses, she grows. Although at first she acts in love with Peeta in order to preserve herself (and by extension Primrose), she later learns to love him and protect him too. 

The most important parallel between the characters, however, is their differences. Snow is an incredibly narcissistic person, the main quality setting him apart from Katniss. Although they would both do anything for those they love, the only person that Snow truly loves and cares about is himself. Time after time in his novel, when given the decision to help those around him or save himself, Snow always picks himself. Katniss is a mirror of a more perfect Snow; she represents what he would be if he made all the right choices. 

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Trailer Review. (2023). Lionsgate Films. & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2. (2015). Lionsgate Films.

Sejanus Plinth and Gale Hawthorne

In the Hunger Games series, Gale is the typical anti-government rebel from District 12, seeking revenge, equality, and the destruction of the capital. He believes the Capital is a broken system wickedly placing every District against one another for their enjoyment. Throughout the trilogy, Gale’s bitterness and overflowing trauma unleashes as his path to victory unravels.

64 years before, Sejanus Plinth, the newly rich boy in snobbish ville, feels out of place in his new home. Living in the Capitol, he finds his outbursts and continuous protests towards destroying the games to accomplish nothing. His spirit was unstoppable. Up until he saw his friend miserably nailed to a wooden board, as a sign to all who choose to defy the capital. After which he decides to become a peacemaker at District 12 to make some real change. However, at District 12, it is no different, he is still stuck in a cage, unable to produce any change, the only difference is his cage is dirtier. All he ever sought was justice, he wanted the torture to stop. He tried to play by the rule book, unaware that everyone else wasn’t.

Although both are fighters who strive for the same thing, only one accomplishes them. It is Gale who seeks cold, bloody, merciless revenge in the reign of those destroyed by the games and the oppressive Panem system. 

Clearly, Sejanus doesn’t yet understand the realities of human nature the way that Gale does. He naively believes in humanity, endlessly protesting to end the cruelty. His weakness and naivety is made evident when he is immediately distraught after learning that guns are involved in rebellion. Unlike Sejanus, Gale achieves victory because his perseverance is stronger from experiences Sejanus never would have been able to endure. 

 

The Hunger Games. (2012). Lionsgate Films.

Lucy Gray Baird and Peeta Mellark

In the original series, Peeta Mellark, the male tribute from District 12 is chosen to participate in the 74th annual hunger games. He quickly reveals his strengths on the train to the Capitol by charming the crowd with only a smile and a wave. Later, he wins public affection by expressing his desire for Katniss on live television. Despite Peeta’s physical abilities, his most impressive skill was his ability to garner attention.

Similarly, Lucy Gray Baird, the female tribute from District 12 for the 10th annual hunger games, won a crowd to her advantage. After being brought to the Capitol, Lucy Gray and the other tributes were displayed in the Capitol Zoo for citizens to view. She made sure to interact with others to highlight her humanity, despite being caged like an animal. Her biggest strength was her ability to move people through song. Lucy Gray’s songs on television won her many donations which her sponsor, Coriolanus Snow, used to help her in the games. Her voice and the stories told in her music helped people truly see her as a human being. Consequently, her singing at the very end of the games while being covered in snakes caused people to beg Dr. Gaul, the head gamemaker, to let her out of the arena.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes Trailer Review. (2023). Lionsgate Films.

Peeta Mellark and Lucy Gray Baird can both be classified as performers. They use their innocence and charm to appear as weak which makes people underestimate them. Both characters were able to get ahead in the games by playing it smart. Peeta, with just his skills as a baker, and Lucy Gray, with only a cosmetic compact. 

One of the most fascinating observations about Peeta and Lucy Gray is their sentiments about the Capitol. They separate the games from the Capitol citizens and see the good in people, even when the odds do not seem to be in their favor. Peeta and Lucy Gray also go into the Capitol with the hope of nothing changing who they are. But in the end, Lucy Gray became a killer and Peeta was hijacked to forget who he was. Both characters represent how a corrupted society can change even the purest of people. 

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Elaine Clarke, Opinion Desk Editor
Elaine Clarke is a Senior at Hendrick Hudson High School. This is her fourth year writing for the newspaper and first year as editor. Alongside this, Elaine participates in the school musicals and plays, film club, as well as the senior club. In her free time, she likes to hang with her friends, listen to music, or just chill with her cat.
Emelin C.M., Writer
Emelin  is a Senior at Hen Hud, and this is her first year writing for the newspaper. Outside of School, Emelin enjoys perusing Google, reading, music, and being a (wannabe) coffee connoisseur.
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