Hunger for Meaning: or, the Transcendence Games

Julie Clawson has a few thoughts about the Hunger Games trilogy whose first title in the series (of the same name) has spawned a film that's about to do boffo box office.

(Spoiler Alert, we suppose:)

While it might seem strange to say that a dystopian young adult novel about children killing each other for the entertainment of an indulgent privileged class is about love, as the trilogy unfolds love emerges as the theme holding the narrative together. This is not simply romantic love, but the kind of love that nurtures and sustains life....

Peeta ... is the baker's son. His whole life has revolved around nurturing and sustaining others. When Katniss' family was starving, his gift of bread kept them alive. Receiving that bread also coincided with Katniss noticing the first dandelion of the spring, reminding her that she could forage for food, and giving her hope that she could survive. When Peeta is sent into the arena his greatest fear is of becoming a monster: to lose his ability to care for others as he is forced to fight for his life. Peeta resists the oppression of the Capitol too, but in ways that expose the truth about it instead of simply lashing out in rage. The boy with the bread represents life and hope rooted in that same healing and self-sacrificial love that Jesus advocated.

It should come as no surprise that in the end Katniss chooses to embrace life-affirming love. She tries the path of rage and violence and it only leaves her burned. She realizes that to survive she has to have the dandelion in the spring, a life centered around love that nurtures and builds instead of tears down. The "Hunger Games" trilogy is less the story of which boy Katniss will pick, and more about whether she will choose the way of violence and revenge or the way of love and life.

It's always interesting to see such takes on modern media. A jaded blogger (not me!) would say you can Christianize about anything. A more giving blogger (definitely me), when presented with such material, would say you can look into such a book, a movie, and find the Christ you worship because the worship creates the consciousness of a set of themes that are simply prevalent in life and a narrative that is simply true - about love, resurrection, and life.

Consider how C.S. Lewis related the themes of his Narnia series.

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected the information about child-psychology and decided what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out "allegories" to embody them. This is all pure moonshine.

-- from "Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s To Be Said"

Your thoughts?

Comments (2)

Was it Tolkein who denied that his Lord of the Rings trilogy was an intentional Christian allegory? I seem to remember reading that somewhere and finding it hard to believe considering all of the parallels.

-Cullin R. Schooley

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