The Hunger Games

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Themes and Colors
Division and Control Theme Icon
Love, Loyalty, and Compassion Theme Icon
Societal Inequality Theme Icon
Appearances Theme Icon
Hypocrisy Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Hunger Games, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Division and Control Theme Icon

Panem is a dictatorship ruled by President Snow and predicated on authoritarian control. President Snow maintains his control by sowing division among Panem’s people—divvying up the country into twelve districts—and ensuring their dependence upon the government. Each of the districts specializes in producing particular goods—and only those goods—and therefore relies on centralized distribution in order to survive, and this dependence is further enforced through rules like the one against poaching, which prevents residents from augmenting their meager food supply (though this is a rule that Katniss routinely breaks with her hunting). The division among the different districts is embodied by the Hunger Games, a competition that pits residents of the districts against each other—and in doing so, makes the districts focus on their rivalries with each other while reinforcing the fact that the Capitol completely controls them.

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Division and Control Quotes in The Hunger Games

Below you will find the important quotes in The Hunger Games related to the theme of Division and Control.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Gale knows his anger at Madge is misdirected. On other days, deep in the woods, I’ve listened to him rant about how the tesserae are just another tool to cause misery in our district. A way to plant hatred between the starving workers of the Seam and those who can generally count on supper and thereby ensure we will never trust one another.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Gale, Madge Undersee
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

In District 12, there's an annual lottery to determine the contestants in the annual Hunger Games. But because of the income inequality in the town, poor children usually end up competing in the Games more often than wealthy children: poor families are incentivized to enter their children in the lottery multiple times in exchange for food (a system called the tesserae).

Katniss insightfully points out that the government of Panem uses the tesserae to maintain its power. By sowing discord between the poor and the (relatively) wealthy in Panem (i.e., the working classes and the middle classes), the government of Panem virtually ensures that there's no strong alliance of citizens against the government's own authority.


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The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens. Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated. The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker)
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Here we're introduced to some of the history of Panem. Panem, we're told, has presided over a country of 13 districts for many years. But once, the districts rose up against their tyrannical government. Although the Capitol was able to fend off the districts' attack, it has learned from its mistakes. In order to ensure that another uprising will never occur, the government demands all the districts of Panem to sacrifice their own children in a yearly Hunger Games. The demand of a sacrifice is a kind of threat: it implies that if the citizens don't cooperate with the government, other children will be hurt, too. It also divides the districts against one another through competition. And in an even more twisted kind of punishment, the Games aren't just about torture or fear—they're about entertainment. The districts must watch their children fight, but they're also supposed to enjoy it.

Chapter 6 Quotes

Rebellion? I have to think about that one a moment. But when I remember the other couples, standing stiffly apart, never touching or acknowledging each other, as if their fellow tribute did not exist, as if the Games had already begun, I know what Haymitch means. Presenting ourselves not as adversaries but as friends has distinguished us as much as the fiery costumes.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark, Haymitch Abernathy
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

During the Hunger Games opening ceremony, Katniss and Peeta hold hands in front of an audience of millions. Neither Katniss nor Peeta understand why their actions are interpreted as being so rebellious, but they are. As Haymitch explains to them in the quotation, Katniss and Peeta send a clear message by holding hands. The entire point of the Hunger Games is to turn similar people against one another: the children of one district against the children of another, and eventually, competitors from the same district against each other. By holding hands, Peeta and Katniss send a clear message: the Hunger Games have begun, but they're not playing along. Instead of competing against one another, they're going to work together.

Haymitch's explanation establishes the idea that gestures and tiny actions can have enormous ramifications for the Games. Since the Hunger Games themselves are a highly symbolic event, even the tiniest disruption in symbolism--such as holding hands--can send a message of disobedience and even outright rebellion against the government of Panem.

Chapter 8 Quotes

I can’t help comparing what I have with Gale to what I’m pretending to have with Peeta. How I never question Gale’s motives while I do nothing but doubt the latter’s. It’s not a fair comparison really. Gale and I were thrown together by a mutual need to survive. Peeta and I know the other’s survival means our own death. How do you sidestep that?

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Peeta Mellark, Gale
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Collins foreshadows the famous "Katniss-Gale-Peeta" love triangle, which shows up again and again through the Hunger Games trilogy. At various points, Katniss is more attracted to Gale than to Peeta; at other times, she prefers Peeta. For the time being, though, Katniss barely thinks of her relationships with Gale and Peeta as being romantic. Her friendship with Gale is seemingly platonic, and indeed, she can barely trust Peeta at all--she knows that they're going to have to fight to the death at some point down the line, after all.

The passage raises an important point: all alliances in the Hunger Games are temporary. Even if it makes sense to work with Peeta in the short term, Katniss knows that their "friendship" can end only one way: with one or both of their deaths. Although Peeta and Katniss have "rebelled" against Panem by holding hands, showing their trust and friendship, the fact remains that in the end, they'll have to fight one another. In short, "the house always wins"--Panem always succeeds in getting Hunger Games competitors to kill.

Chapter 15 Quotes

It’s interesting, hearing about her life. We have so little communication with anyone outside our district. In fact, I wonder if the Gamemakers are blocking out our conversation, because even though the information seems harmless, they don’t want people in different districts to know about one another.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Rue
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

In the middle of the Hunger Games, Katniss forms a friendship with Rue, a competitor from another district of Panem. Instead of fighting Rue, Katniss asks her about her life at home, and Rue treats Katniss the same way.

By doing something as simple as having a friendly conversation, Katniss and Rue are actually rebelling against the format of the Hunger Games. The Gamemakers (the designers of the Hunger Games) want competitors to hate each other, thereby breeding division throughout Panem as a whole. By trading hatred for friendship, Rue and Katniss are challenging the basic premise of the Hunger Games. One mark of Rue and Katniss's rebelliousness is the fact that the Gamemakers are probably censoring their conversation: although it seems harmless, the Gamemakers know full-well that no signs of true collaboration between districts (or, by the same token, information about the different districts) can be shown on television.

Chapter 18 Quotes

I can’t stop looking at Rue, smaller than ever, a baby animal curled up in a nest of netting. I can’t bring myself to leave her like this. Past harm, but seeming utterly defenseless. To hate the boy from District 1, who also appears so vulnerable in death, seems inadequate. It’s the Capitol I hate, for doing this to all of us.

Related Characters: Katniss Everdeen (speaker), Rue
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Katniss's friend Rue is killed by a competitor from District 1. Rue's death is important to the plot of the novel for a number of reasons. First, it reminds us that Katniss, in spite of her ability to kill, is fundamentally a kind, sympathetic person, who only entered the Hunger Games in the first place because of her love for Prim, her sister. In Rue, Katniss seems to find a counterpart to Prim--a young, innocent girl--and so when Rue dies, Katniss seems almost as grief-stricken as if Prim had died.

Furthermore, Rue's death is important because it challenges Katniss's ideas about the Hunger Games themselves. So far, Katniss has been willing to participate in the violence of the Games: she knows full-well that the Capitol is just trying to breed anger and hatred between the districts, but she still wants to survive and return to her family. In this scene, Katniss is tempted to blame the boy from District 1 for Rue's death, but instead, she forces herself to see the big picture: Rue is only death because of the Capitol itself. In other words, Katniss doesn't "take the bait." Instead of doing what the Capitol wants—fighting with the other districts, and strengthening the Capitol's authority—she recognizes who her real enemies are: the Capitol and the Gamemakers.