In The Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins uses history from Ancient Rome and the Hundred Years’ War. Like George RR Martin, Suzanne “meditates” on the effect of war throughout The Hunger Games series. Similar to Martin, Suzanne uses counterfactual (what-if) versions of history and, as far as I can tell, she did not create an historical “allegory.”
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While Suzanne’s use of Ancient Roman history is very well known, strangely enough, relatively little has been written about her use of the Hundred Years War (which is, in some ways, more subtle). Here are a few examples.
****Spoiler alert: Second movie/book — Catching Fire — spoiler alert ****
Katniss Everdeen as Joan of Arc
Like Joan of Arc, Katniss is the rallying point for galvanizing the “peasants” against a conquering military presence. In Joan of Arc’s case, this is the English knights who are attacking French peasant villages. In Katniss’ world, this is the Capitol.
Joan of Arc was famously burned at the stake. Katniss is frequently depicted with fire imagery. Katniss is, in television announcer Caesar Flickerman’s words, the “Girl on Fire.”
During the Tribute Parade, Katniss’ coal minor costume is designed to catch fire:
When Katniss twirls on stage, her dress ignites into a fire ball (in the movie, the flames are more subtle):
There are other parallels in addition to these ones.
The Raids on District 12 and the Raids on Peasants (Chevauchées)
In the second book/movie, Catching Fire, after head gamemaker Plutarch Heavensby suggests more floggings to reduce Katniss’ influence, the Capitol sends peacekeepers to the districts to brutalize the residents.
The residents are like peasants, and the peacekeepers are like the English knights in the Hundred Years’ War. (By the way, the interpretation of the Hundred Years’ War in The Hunger Games is very much from the French perspective.)
Enter town at lightning speed
Burn and Destroy
Brutalize the Starving Peasants
The parallel between the chevauchées and the peacekeepers being sent to abuse the districts is the most striking when they arrive in District 12 to administer floggings and, later, when they destroy District 12.
Use of Sigils: The Mockingjay Pin
Last but not least, the mockingjay pin is a sigil or medieval badge reborn. Like a sigil, the mockingjay is a symbol that represents Katniss. Like a medieval badge, the mockingjay pin is worn on Katniss’ person. Whereas sigils and badges represent people or dynastic houses, the mockingjay represents a group of people: the revolutionaries.
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