10 Life Lessons in The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
I have read The Hunger Games original trilogy at least ten times since my middle school years. Though the story itself is interesting, the characters and the themes sprinkled throughout the books are what keep me hooked.
— Spoilers Ahead —
- Compassion is a strength, not a weakness.
In the first book, we are introduced to Peeta Mellark. One of Peeta’s strongest traits is his compassionate heart. In the story, this does not make him weak or vulnerable. On the contrary, he uses his natural compassion to gain the trust of the Capitol citizens and manipulate them. We also see his compassion work in his benefit when it comes to making allies. People gravitated to Peeta more naturally than they did Katniss.
- It is okay to ask for / accept help.
If Katniss had refused to accept the bread from Peeta when they were kids, she and her family would have starved. Accepting help does not make you weak— it makes you smart. We are not meant to do absolutely everything in life alone.
- Stay true to yourself.
When Katniss takes up the leadership position of the Mockingjay for the rebellion, the scripted segments do not go over well. The moments when she truly looks like a leader are those in which nobody is telling her what to do. Katniss’s authenticity is what allows the other districts to join the revolution.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover.
This is a cliché theme, but it is done well in the context of this series. The character of Finnick Odair is judged the moment we meet him in Catching Fire. His youth, attractiveness, and other superficial traits are all we have to create an opinion of his character. It isn’t until Mockingjay that readers and Katniss Everdeen herself get to see below the surface and realize that there is more than what meets the eye. His trauma, strategic mind, and kind heart are all traits that we could not see at first glance.
- Your past does not dictate your future.
Katniss’s past of living in poverty does not mean she will always live that way. Change is possible, regardless of your personal history. Haymitch Abernathy was an alcoholic when he met Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. However, he was able to cut back long enough to be a strong mentor for them and get them both out of the arena alive— a success that was unprecedented.
- You are stronger than you think.
Katniss did not believe she was strong enough to win the games and make it home to her family. She continued to push herself, however, and did not give up when her circumstances looked bad. She used her perseverance and intelligence to overcompensate for her lack of physical strength.
- Everybody has a voice.
A simple girl from the poorest district in the country was the individual who took down a corrupt government. Hopefully we will never have to step up in such a drastic way in our lifetime, but it goes to show that speaking up for what you believe in matters. You never know how many people agree with you and are willing to listen or help you.
- Hope is powerful.
The tagline to the first movie adaptation is accurately “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear” after a quote by President Snow. If you can keep your head above water in the dark times, you will survive long enough to see the light. It is okay to be afraid, but you cannot lose hope.
- Actions have consequences.
Both positive and negative actions have corresponding consequences. Gale broke the law in Catching Fire so he was sentenced to a public flogging. Katniss disobeyed the Capitol, so the Quarter Quell was changed to send her back into the arena. If you are going to make a stance, you need to be prepared for the consequences.
- Money does not buy happiness.
All of the victors had more money than they could possibly need in life, yet they were miserable. Money did not take away the trauma. Money could not ensure their family’s safety. Though it was not as glamorous, Katniss’s life in the Seam of District 12 was simpler and safer than her life in the prestigious Victor’s Village.