The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Literary Elements


Young Adult, Dystopian

Setting and Context

The novel is set in various locations in the fictional country of Panem.

Narrator and Point of View

The Hunger Games is told in the first-person from the perspective of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl living in District 12 of Panem.

Tone and Mood

Somber, gritty, thrilling, suspenseful, and exhilarating.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist of this first book in the Hunger Games trilogy is Katniss Everdeen, our narrator. The antagonist is somewhat harder to identify, as we are not quite sure whom to blame for the harsh realities of Katniss’s life. The Capitol and the Gamemakers set the stage and pull the strings, but the other tributes are the ones who try to end our protagonist’s life. This discussion about who the true enemy is recurs throughout the series.

Major Conflict

The major conflict in The Hunger Games is Katniss’s struggle to survive the Games and return home to her family without losing her sense of self.


The climax is the moment Katniss and Peeta are about to eat the nightlock at the end of the Games.


When Rue fails to make it to the meeting point she and Katniss agreed to, this is a warning to Katniss that something is amiss.


After Peeta’s name is called at the reaping, Katniss has a flashback to the time he helped save her family from starvation by giving her a burnt loaf of bread. Katniss recalls that she never thanked him for his generosity, but reasons that she can’t thank him now either. In her own words, “somehow it just won’t seem sincere if I’m trying to slit his throat” (Collins 61). This is a humorous, if macabre, example of understatement.


The entire Hunger Games tournament is an allusion to the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.


See section titled “Imagery.”




The lives of the people in the different districts are a clear example of parallelism in the novel. At first glance it may seem that life in District 12, one of poverty and back-breaking drudgery, is diametrically opposed to that of District 1, where inhabitants have enough resources and free time to specially train for the Hunger Games. However, whether they are pampered or impoverished, all non-Capitol inhabitants of Panem follow parallel life trajectories. At age 12, whether their family makes precious jewels for the Capitol or mines coal to power Panem, their name gets entered in the reaping lottery and stays there until age 18. The parallel lives of Panem’s citizens illustrate that no one is beyond the reach of the Capitol.

Metonymy and Synecdoche



The arena of the Games is treated as a living entity that interacts with the tributes. Aside from the other tributes, it is the biggest threat and sometimes the toughest opponent, as no one but the Gamemakers knows what it will do next.