1. Power and its tools of oppression
When District 13′s revolt ended in defeat, the Capitol forced the remaining districts to compete against one another to the death, in what is known as The Hunger Games. The Games are both a brutal reminder of the districts’ powerlessness against the Capitol and a form of entertainment for the ruling elite.
The Hunger Games are similar to the gladiatorial games in Ancient Rome, where two people are placed in an arena and forced to battle until one of them is killed. These events were enjoyed by thousands of spectators, the Caesar’s strategy involved providing people with plenty of food and entertainment to quell public discontent.
2. “Hope. It is the only thing that is stronger than fear” – President Snow
Hope keeps people working harder than fear does and the idea of winning keeps the tributes fighting to the end.
Food, resources and shelter are seldom available in the poorer districts and additionally, families do not reap the benefits of their hard work. Although Peeta’s family owns a bakery, they cannot afford the bread they bake themselves and must eat the stale left overs that nobody wanted. By comparison, food in the Capitol is abundant and even excessive. Inequality is best exemplified in the “reaping” or lottery by which the tributes are selected. In exchange for more rations, the poor enter their names additional times and are thus more likely to be chosen.
4. Exploitation & suffering
Suffering as entertainment is another major theme explored in the book. Suffering is not only physical, but also psychological, there is a parallel to reality TV and its effects on our culture. People’s lives are televised for the world to see, displaying real life as entertainment and turning people into commodities. A person’s value is determined by the level of entertainment we can get from them.
The Hunger Games as a whole is a metaphor for injustice and corruption. To end the injustice and corruption a revolution must take place and be performed collectively by all the districts, at the same time.