The Hunger Games

Will the Real Katniss Everdeen Please Stand?: Understanding Identity in 'The Hunger Games' Through Locke and Sartre College

The girl who was on fire, the Mockingjay, the star-crossed lover, the fierce survivor, the cold-hearted archer...which of these really defines the hero of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games? Answer: all of them, and none of them. Below the much more obvious and pressing conflict that is surviving the Hunger Games, Katniss faces a subtler fight internally. She doesn’t know who she is, and why should she? She is forced to adapt to a series of ever-changing circumstances that disrupt her ability to distinguish reality from fantasy. Analyzing her inner turmoil through dualism, Locke’s social contract theory, and Sartre’s theory of human reality, the question of what Katniss Everdeen’s identity is defined by proves to yield just as many conflicts as the Hunger Games themselves.

From an early age, Katniss is taught to put up a facade for her own protection, becoming cold and callous (Collins pg.6). At various points in the story, she claims that this guarded demeanor she adopts both is and isn’t her true self, The first instance of this is very early on, “In the woods waits the only person with whom I can be myself...Gale says I never smile except in the woods.” (Collins pg. 6). The logic of this statement is as follows: Gale is the...

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