The Hunger Games: A Christian Perspective Part 1

Posted on July 24, 2014. Filed under: Books, Christian, Hunger Games |

I had already seen the movie… and HATED it. I remember leaving the movie theatre disappointed in the lack of character depth and over cheesiness of the film. That said, I still went to the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, and came out not hating it, but not loving it either.

I am a teacher, and so therefore I get the summers off. Even though I have to put up with all the sunshine, good weather, and extra sleep, there are some positives to having the summer off- I get time to actually read for enjoyment.  This week on Sunday, I started The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

We were heading to the lake that day, and so I started reading it in the car.  When I was there, my aunt commented on the book, sharing that it’s pretty dark.  I hadn’t really thought it was that bad yet, so I kept reading.  It was holding my attention and interest, so I read all of Part One that day.  But something inside of me was nagging me to do a little more research. So before bed, I looked up some of the summaries and reviews of the book. I found out that later on in the book, there was going to be a graphic rape scene, and a lot of the book has to do with sexual content etc. I decided to stop reading it and save my conscience and mind the images that would most likely end up haunting me. (I don’t do well with that kind of thing.  Did I mention I teach grade one… and quite enjoy the innocence of it!)

On Tuesday, I went to my parents house as we were going up to the lake again. (Tough life, I know.) I ran upstairs to their bookshelf to see if they had any other books I could read.  Lucky for me, my dad got the Hunger Games trilogy for Christmas. I dove right in.  That was on Tuesday, and I finished the book yesterday…. which would be Wednesday. Sigh. Yes I’m a nerd.  But in my defense, it is very well written and has an excellent story line. The movie does not do it justice.


I was reading my Bible this morning and because the Hunger Games is fresh in my memory, I was making some connections from the themes in the book to Christianity. That, my friends, is where this post is coming from. I plan on posting what I receive, reject and redeem about the Hunger Games from a Christian perspective. Post 1 is what I “receive.”

Receive:

The idea of Self Sacrifice: From the very beginning we see the theme of self sacrifice through the protagonist, Katniss.  We know that Katniss is constantly looking after her mother and sister by hunting in the woods illegally and providing for them before herself, but this is just a foreshadowing of what is to come by Katniss volunteering to die in place of her sister Prim, and the rest of District 12. I “receive” this idea because I see it paralleling Jesus so easily.  Jesus chose/volunteered to die in our place.  He loved us so much that he couldn’t bear the thought of us dying and going to hell.  He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice even though he knew what that outcome would be. Katniss didn’t volunteer thinking she would win, she volunteered knowing she would die.

i volunteer

Peeta is also a great example of self sacrifice.  The book tells the story of him deliberately burning his parent’s bread, so that he could run out and put it into Katniss’s starving hands. He was abused for his choice, but made it anyway. Throughout the story, Peeta continually is the depiction of self sacrifice. He constantly puts Katniss’s needs first, and we get the impression he has decided to put her well being before his own no matter what. This makes me think of how often Jesus did this in the Bible. His self centred disciples are constantly making the kingdom of God about themselves and their own kingdom, and though Jesus rebukes them, he continually loves and serves those he is with.  He never once chooses to put himself first; even when his followers hurt and abandon him.

I receive the idea of Evil: In The Hunger Games, The Capitol is represented as being evil. It is The Capitol that is causing oppression on the districts, it is The Capitol that is witholding food and forcing the districts to live in fear.  Gale and Katniss agree on this while hunting in the wilderness, and Gale even suggests running away from its reign. I “receive” this idea because in our world I also see oppression and evil happening.  I don’t blame some governing body or city, but I do blame sin.  All it takes is one look at the newspaper to know that there is something wrong with our world.  There is a disproportioned use of power.  There are deaths that are inhumane and preventable.  Something is just not right.  Though the Hunger Games is often considered part of “dystopian literature,” I see our world as being dystopian. In Genesis it says that the world used to be perfect until sin entered.  When Adam and Eve took that fruit, they allowed sin to enter the Earth, and more or less screw up everything that was good! Thank God that He had a plan to redeem this world and restore it! There are still many evidences of grace today where we can see a glimpse of that once utopia, and without those, I feel like we would all feel utterly hopeless. Fortunately I know that even though we are living in a very fallen and depraved world, there will be a day where Jesus returns to restore it to its former beauty.

forbidden fruit

The idea of real love: Though Katniss is a hard hearted character, the author allows us to see little blossoms of her true love, and one of these is Prim.  Katniss truly loves her.  She would do anything for her sister, even give up her life. She has moments of fondness for Gale, her mother, and even Peeta, but the audience knows that she truly LOVES Prim.  Because Prim is left behind so early in the book, we get to experience Katniss’s sisterly love again when it comes to Rue.  Rue is more than just an ally to Katniss; she becomes a sister. Though short lived, we see the fruits of Katniss’s sisterly love when she spends the night in a tree with Rue. Katniss has a peace that night that casts out all fear.  Her nerves are calm and she can enjoy the company of Rue without the heavy loneliness that had been following her throughout the games. 1 John 4:18 says, “there is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear.” The idea of real, true love points me to the Lord.  When we truly experience the love of a heavenly Father, every fear and worry seems to get a little smaller and less significant. His love gives us a sense of safety that not even a human’s love can.

Furthermore, Peeta also reveals true love to the readers. All along, Peeta seems to be thinking about how he can love Katniss more.  His strategy before, and during the games, is always to keep Katniss safe and allow her to live. His love is what draws the Capitol’s sponsors in, and provides help for Peeta and Katniss when they need it.  Though Katniss behaves as though she loves Peeta, the Capitol, (and the readers,) always have their doubts about her true feelings.  Peeta’s love stands the test of time and circumstance.  At the end of the Hunger Games, when the announcer shares that there can only be one winner, killing Katniss doesn’t even cross Peeta’s mind, though we can’t say the same for Katniss. Katniss is Peeta’s “bride,” his love, and he is willing to die for her.  Again, this so clearly reflects Jesus.  He calls the Church his bride, and he loves the Church beyond measure. Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Peeta was throwing his knife away, while Katniss was grabbing her bow to kill him. Jesus was giving his life away, while we run to sin that ultimately kills Him.

Does the book, The Hunger Games, have a clear message of the gospel? I would say no, but I do think there are elements of the gospel in the book. When we open our minds to receive these, we are able to take a beautiful story and let it strengthen our faith in God and what He has done.

Hunger_games book                     bible

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2 Responses to “The Hunger Games: A Christian Perspective Part 1”

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That’s a great analysis of the book. Thanks for posting it. I look forward to the ‘redeem’ and ‘reject’ elaborations!

[…] you have stumbled across this post, and you haven’t read Part 1, you can read that here. It might give you some context as to what I am talking […]


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