The Hunger Games

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Bread Symbol Icon
Suzanne Collins named her fictional dystopia after the Latin phrase, “panem et circenses,” which translates to “bread and games.” The phrase refers to a government’s ability to appease its people with trivial diversions rather than actual good governance, and it applies to the Hunger Games because the Games distract Panem’s residents from the reality of the Capitol’s control. Instead, citizens focus on watching the Games to see who will be killed next and who will become the winner, earning food (bread) and rewards for their district.

Bread Quotes in The Hunger Games

The The Hunger Games quotes below all refer to the symbol of Bread. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Division and Control Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Scholastic Press edition of The Hunger Games published in 2010.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Maybe if I had thanked him at some point, I’d be feeling less conflicted now. I thought about it a couple of times, but the opportunity never seemed to present itself. And now it never will. Because we’re going to be thrown into an arena to fight to the death. Exactly how am I supposed to work in a thank-you in there? Somehow it just won’t seem sincere if I’m trying to slit his throat.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark
Related Symbols: Bread
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

In this part of the novel, Katniss remembers the time when Peeta saved her life, and the lives of her family members. Peeta, a baker's son, took pity on Katniss, who was looking for food, and gave her some leftover loaves of bread. Katniss never spoke to Peeta, let alone thanked him for his generosity.

Katniss realizes, with a touch of gallows humor, that she can't exactly thank Peeta now--anything she says to him will have an undercurrent of competition, since she'll be fighting against him in the Hunger Games (and may well be the one to kill him). As Katniss struggles to preserve her sanity in the face of bloody competition, dark humor of the kind exemplified in the passage becomes of the utmost importance--as long as she can muster a joke, she's still the same old Katniss.


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Bread Symbol Timeline in The Hunger Games

The timeline below shows where the symbol Bread appears in The Hunger Games. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Division and Control Theme Icon
Appearances Theme Icon
Gale has brought a loaf of real bakery bread to share on the morning of reaping day, and he and Katniss make a meal... (full context)
Appearances Theme Icon
...operates in an abandoned warehouse in the Seam. They trade some of their fish for bread and salt, and then they bring some strawberries to the mayor, who has a special... (full context)
Chapter 2
Love, Loyalty, and Compassion Theme Icon
...see the boy—Peeta—with a red welt on his cheek and carrying two loaves of burnt bread. His mother yelled at him to feed the bread to the pigs, and he began... (full context)
Chapter 4
Love, Loyalty, and Compassion Theme Icon
...That night, they had a dinner of dandelion salad and the rest of the bakery bread. Prim and Katniss began poring through a book from their mother’s apothecary shop, looking for... (full context)
Chapter 11
Division and Control Theme Icon
...for the Cornucopia and instead grabs a nearby sheet of plastic and a loaf of bread. She’s angry about missing the moment and dashes farther in to grab a backpack, but... (full context)
Chapter 18
Love, Loyalty, and Compassion Theme Icon
Societal Inequality Theme Icon
...from sponsors right now, but when she checks the parachute, she finds a loaf of bread from District 11, Rue’s district. She can’t imagine how many people would have had to... (full context)
Chapter 22
Love, Loyalty, and Compassion Theme Icon
Societal Inequality Theme Icon
...expect Peeta to understand how difficult it is to owe someone something—she brings up the bread that Peeta tossed her years ago as an example. Katniss asks Peeta why he did... (full context)