SUZANNE COLLINS Author of the Hunger Games As a child, Suzanne Collins loved myths in particular, she loved the myth of Theseus. In this myth, as a punishment for past wrongdoing, the citizens of Athens are forced to send their children as tributes to Crete. There they will fight the Minotaur a monster they had no hope of defeating. Collins was fascinated by the idea of a society so powerful and cruel that it could
force another society to give up its children, sacrificing them as retribution for past crimes. Her fascination with the myth helped shape her idea for the novel The Hunger Games. The idea came about one evening as Collins was channel surfing. She switched between two programs: one was about a group of teenagers competing for prizes, and the other program was about teenagers fighting in a war.
As Collins flipped from one channel to the other, she asked a question many great writers ask: what if? What if children competed in games to the death like Roman gladiators did? What if a government controlled citizens by randomly selecting their children to participate in a brutal game that could only have one winner? What if a girl took her little sisters place in this fight to the death; could she survive?
By combining her channel surfing experience and her childhood fascination with the Theseus myth, Suzanne Collins created a story idea that has captured the interest of many, many readers. Collinss writing career began in 1991 when she started writing for childrens television shows. She had been working on TV scripts for several years when a fellow writer encouraged her to try writing a novel. Her first book was Gregor the Overlander. Its the first book in a series of five novels that tell the story of a boy who discovers a world underneath the streets of New York City.
Themes Both The Underland Series and The Hunger Games deal with themes of war. Perhaps that is because Collinss father was in the Air Force, and he fought in the Vietnam War. As a child, Collins was aware of the war; she sometimes saw scenes of it on the evening news. Although she was a young child at the time, those images and thoughts stayed with her and influenced her ideas while she was writing The Hunger Games.
In the novel, the citizens of the fictional North American country of the future called Panem are forced to watch the scenes of the Hunger Games on TV as the contestants battle to the death. The theme of TV as entertainment, regardless of what is on the TV is something Collins finds troublesome. She is concerned that TV viewers may be becoming desensitized to the horrors of war that they see on television.
In The Hunger Games, death becomes entertainment. Today, it is easy to think that all TV is entertainment and forget that some things, like wars and starvation, are real events that happen to real people. The problems those people face dont go away once the television is turned off. AS YOU READ THE HUNGER GAMES, NOTICE HOW TELEVISION IS USED IN THE GAMES AND BY THE GOVERNMENT. Answer the following questions (to be handed in for marks) 1. How did Suzanne Collinss reading interests as a child influence her writing as an adult? 2. Explain how an experience watching TV influenced her idea for writing The Hunger
Games. 3. What do you think Collins means when she states shes worried that people have become desensitized by what they see on TV? 4. Do you agree that TV desensitizes people? Why or why not? 5. How might her fathers experiences with the Vietnam War influence how Suzanne Collins writes about war? 6. What inferences can you make about what type of person Suzanne Collins is? Give examples to support your answer. 7. What do you think might be some differences between writing a novel and writing for television? 8. What questions would you ask if you were granted an interview with Suzanne Collins?
THE MYTH OF THESEUS Myths are stories that are passed down from generation to generation. Often they answer questions about the world. For instance, the myth of Pandora explains why there is evil in the world. Myths also often contain heroes who overcome obstacles by using superhuman strength or skill. Some, like the Greek and Roman myths, are thousands of years old. The popularity of books like The Lightening Thief is proof that even today people are captivated by the drama and adventure of myths. The characters and events of the myth of Theseus are easy to imagine and difficult to forget. As you read the story, ask yourself what makes Theseuss adventures memorable.
THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER Aethra had a darling little boy named Theseus. He was growing into a strong, smart young man, and Aethra knew that she would soon need to tell him about his father, Aegeus the king of Athens. Theseus had never met his father and didnt even know who he was. But Aegeus had planned for his son. Before he left Aethra and returned to Athens, Aegeus placed a sword and a pair of sandals under a boulder. Aegeus told Aethra that if their son could lift the boulder and retrieve the items, he should come to Athens
and claim his inheritance as the heir to the throne of Athens. THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER The day arrived for Aethra to tell Theseus about his father and the boulder. Would he be strong enough to lift it? He was. He retrieved the sword and sandals and was ready to go to Athens to meet his father. Theseus could travel by land or sea. The journey to Athens over land was dangerous; the countryside was full of murderers, robbers, and villains. It would be much safer for Theseus to travel by sea. But in spite of advice to do otherwise, Theseus decided
to take the more dangerous route and travel by land, to test his heroism and rid the countryside of evildoers. THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER Theseus didnt have far to travel before he came across his first challenge, Periphetes. Peripetes was a vicious man who used a club to kill anyone he met along the road. Theseus turned Periphetess own club against him. As a trophy for his first victory, Theseus took the club. Next, Theseus met Sinis who was extremely strong. His nickname was pine bender because he liked to bend
two pine trees down to the ground and tie his victim to the two trees. When he let go of the trees, the victim was ripped in two. Theseus defeated Sinis by using his own pine tree trick against him. THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER Theseus traveled on and encountered a giant sow that was terrorizing the countryside. He killed it and then traveled along a narrow coastal road where he met Sciron. Sciron like to stop travelers and force them to wash his feet. While they were on their knees at his feet, Sciron shoved the travelers over the cliff where
they fell into the sea and were eaten by a giant turtle. Theseus, as you may have already guessed, tricked Sciron. It was Sciron who ended up falling over the cliff into the sea. Theseuss next encounter was with Cercyon, the king of Eleusis. Cercyon challenged travelers to a wrestling match. If they lost, Cercyon killed them. Theseus defeated and killed Cercyon and became king of Eleusis. THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER Finally, Theseus was nearing Athens, but there was still one more obstacle for him to overcome: Procrustes.
Procrustes offered travelers a bed for the night, which seemed nice, but there was a catch. Procrustes wanted to make sure his guests fit in the bed, so if guests were too short, he stretched them to make them longer. If guests were too tall, hed cut off their limbs so theyd fit. Theseus used the bed against Procrustes and defeated the last villain on the way to Athens. THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER When Theseus arrived in Athens, he was a hero. People were happy hed rid the countryside of its terrible inhabitants. Theseus went to see Aegeus and his wife
Medea. Medea was a sorceress and she controlled Aegeus through magic. She realized that Theseus was Aeguss son, and knew that if Aegeus accepted him and took him in, Medea would lose her power over the king. To turn Aegeus against Theseus, Medea convinced Aegeus that Theseus could not be trusted, and that Theseus was only there to overthrow the King. THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER Medea and Aegeus planned to give Theseus poisoned wine at a banquet. However, as Theseus was about to drink the poison,
Aegeus recognized the sword Theseus was carrying as the one Aegeus had placed under the boulder. Aegeus knocked the poisoned wine away from Theseus and accepted him as his son. Medea, seeing her plans were foiled, left the kingdom. Now that Theseus is accepted as Aegeuss son and wicked Medea is gone, the story should have a happy ending, right? Not so fast. Theseus then learns that the Athenian people have been forced to pay Minos, the king of Crete, an annual tribute. They must send seven boys and seven girls to Crete where they will be sent into the labyrinth. The labyrinth is a maze that is impossible to escape, but the worst part is the Minotaur that inhabits the labyrinth.
THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER The Minotaur is a creature that is half man and half bull. It feasts on the fourteen tributes. When Theseus hears this, he is determined to go into the labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur. He volunteers to be one of the tributes to Crete. Aegeus begs him not to go, but Theseus is determined. Before setting sail, he promises his father that on his way back to Athens, hell change the ships sails from black to white as a sign that hes defeated the
Minotaur. And so Theseus begins his next challenge. THE MYTH OF THESEUS: HERO AND ADVENTURER Once they arrive in Crete, the tributes are paraded before King Minos. Minos daughter Ariadne sees Theseus and falls in love with him. Before the tributes are sent into the labyrinth, Ariadne goes to Theseus and gives him a spool of thread. She tells him to tie the spool of thread to the gate of the labyrinth and unroll it as he walks through the maze so that he will be able to find his way back out again. Theseus enters the labyrinth and follows Ariadnes advice. He slays the Minotaur and escapes from Crete with Ariadne and the other tributes. On their way back to Crete, they stop at the island of Naxos. There are
different versions of the story of what happened next and why, but Theseus left Ariadne on the island and then traveled on to Athens. He forgot to change the sail from black to white, and when Aegeus saw the ship traveling back with a black sail, he thought his son was dead. In his grief, Aegeus hurled himself off a cliff and into the sea which from then on was called the Aegean Sea. Theseus returned to Athens and became king. You might think that this is the end of the story, but it isnt either. Theseus went on to have more adventures. But then, thats to be expected when youre the hero of a myth.
The Myth of Theseus (to be taken in for marks) Directions: After reading the article on The Myth of Theseus, answer the following questions in complete sentences on a separate piece of paper. 1. What is a myth? 2. What did Theseuss father do to ensure Theseus could one day claim his inheritance? 3. Recall the adversaries (enemies) Theseus must face on the journey to Athens. 4. Summarize the types of challenges Theseus faces on the road to Athens. 5. Infer the type of skills Theseus needs in order to defeat his adversaries. 6. What evidence do you find in the story that shows Theseus is a hero? 7. What conclusions can you draw about King Minos?
8. Why do you think Minos demanded that the tributes were children? 9. Why do you think Theseus didnt relax and enjoy being a king after he returned from Crete? 10. What part of the Theseus myth do you like best? Explain your answer EXPLORING EXPOSITORY WRITING: GENREFANTASY, SCI-FI, AND DYSTOPIA Part One: Create a World If you could design a perfect world, what would it be like? jot down some ideas of your ideal society. My world is governed by School is Some of the best jobs are When I look outside, I see
Daily life for kids includes For fun, we For dinner we eat The most important law is On vacation, I My favorite part of the day is People of this society most value My hobby is What kind of world did you create? Compare your ideas with your fellow students. What ideas did you have in common? How was your world
different from your classmates? Was your world fictional or nonfiction? If it wasnt the real world were living in today, your world was fictional Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Dystopia Answer the following questions using complete sentences on a separate piece of paper. (to be handed in) 1. What is meant by a sub genre of fiction? 2. What is the difference between fantasy and science fiction? 3. What is dystopia? 4. Identify some additional elements of fantasy that arent mentioned in the article. (Think about some fantasy books you are familiar with.)
5. Identify some additional elements of science fiction that arent mentioned in the article. (Think about some science fiction books you are familiar with.) 6. Analyze the word utopia. Look at the definition of the two Greek words Sir Thomas More used to create the word. What do the definitions tell you about what he thought of the possibility of a utopian society? 7. Look at the world you created in Part One of this activity. What changes would you make to solve any problems you might have in your society? 8. Do you think your perfect world would work? Explain your answer. 9. Do you think its possible for a perfect society to exist? Explain your answer. There are several sub genres that are used to further classify fiction books.
Look at your ideal world again. Does it contain magical animals like unicorns or flying dragons? Is the world governed by a magic elf? For fun, do you play a game on a broomstick? If your world includes magical elements like talking animals, mythical creatures, witches, or dragons, your world is a fantasy. The fantasy genre contains fantastic elements that could not happen in the natural world. One of the joys of reading fantasies includes imagining a world where these kinds of events can occur.
Perhaps your world is based on events that could possibly happen at some time in the future like flying cars, synthetic foods, purple trees, or computers that finish homework. In this case, the world you created is science fiction. Books written in the science fiction genre include things that really could happen in the future. In the future, computers could take over the world, cars could fly, and you could live on a colony on the moon. People enjoy reading science fiction because the events of the story could actually happen perhaps in a future time.
Think about some of the books youve read. Have you read some fantasy and science fiction? Write the titles in the graphic organizer below. Next to each title, give a piece of evidence as to why it is fantasy or science fiction. You may want to work with a partner or a group. Some examples have been given. Fantasy Example: Harry Potter there are wizards and magic wands Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs food falls down from the sky Science Fiction Example: A Wrinkle in Time the characters have the ability to travel through time Among
the Hidden the government has made rules about how many children a family can have PART TWO: THE PERFECT AND IMPERFECT WORLDS OF FICTION Whatever kind of fiction story a writer is working on, he or she must create the fictional world in which the characters live. In a realistic fiction story, the world might be like your life. In a historical fiction story, a writer wants to create a historically accurate world. Realistic and historical fiction novels are based in our imperfect world.
However, the genres of science fiction and fantasy dont have to follow the rules of our real world. In fact, a writer could create a perfect world. That is what Sir Thomas More did when he wrote a book in 1516 that he entitled Utopia. He made up the title by combining the Greek words outopia which means no place and eutopia which means a place where all is well. Today we use the word utopia to mean a perfect place. Sir Thomas More wasnt the first person to write about a perfect society. In 380 B.C., Plato wrote Republic, which discusses the meaning of justice, and whether man is
happier under his own rule or the rule of others. Since Sir Thomas Mores time, many other writers have tackled the question of what makes a perfect society. But what about a fictional world that isnt perfect? The term dystopia is used to describe a sub genre of science fiction in which a futuristic world is far from perfect. The prefix dys means bad (think dysfunctional). Most dystopian fiction includes a repressive government that restricts individual rights. Like other science fiction books, readers can see the seeds of the development of
a dystopian society in real life. For example, readers know how important computers are, so a sci-fi novel about computers replacing bus drivers or pilots might not seem so far-fetched. The term anachronism refers to something or someone that is not in the correct historical time period. If you read a historical fiction book that takes place during the Revolutionary War and a character looks at her wristwatch, thats an anachronism.
As you read The Hunger Games, you will quickly see what kind of society Suzanne Collins has created utopian or dystopian. Look for evidence to support your belief. HISTORICAL CONTEXT: WHOS IN CONTROL? A LOOK AT PROPAGANDA What is persuasion and how do you persuade someone? Think about the last time you were able to persuade someone. What did you persuade them to do or think? How did you do it? Did your efforts work? Why or why not?
Nearly everyone has tried to convince someone to think or act in a different way. An effective persuasive argument is based on evidence in the form of facts, logic, and examples. However, not all persuasive arguments are constructed the same. Skilled writers can persuade readers by using emotions, incomplete facts, generalizations, and faulty reasoning. A particular form of persuasion that uses faulty arguments is called propaganda.
PROPAGANDA is the intentional spread of true or false information to the public with the goal of influencing public opinion and behavior. It is intentional, widespread, purposeful, powerful, and biased. Biased means it presents only part of an argument; it is one-sided. Propaganda simplifies complex issues, uses symbols, and is emotional. Often propaganda will have a slogan or saying that is easy to remember. Propaganda can be used for good or bad.
A public service announcement can be an example of good propaganda. The goal of a public service announcement is to influence the public to act in a certain way. It might be to get a flu shot, buckle seat belts, or recycle. Propaganda can also be used to promote bad government policies. In history class, you may have learned about the Nazi party that came to power in Germany in 1933. Hitler wrote, Propaganda is a truly terrible weapon in the hands of an expert. Indeed, the Nazis used propaganda skillfully as they tried to
influence how citizens felt about and treated Jews. Propaganda based on rumors, fears, and prejudices encouraged the discrimination and persecution of the Jews. By persuading citizens that eliminating Jews from Germany was a good thing, the Nazi party and its allies were responsible for the deaths of six million Jews. Of course, propaganda wasnt the only way the Nazis influenced the public, but it certainly had an important place in shaping attitudes and encouraging discrimination As a reader, you must be thoughtful about what someone is trying to persuade you to do or think; a good reader
asks questions and makes sure arguments are presented in a logical, balanced manner so that an informed decision can be made. Today, we have many ways to check on the accuracy of information we receive. We can watch several different news shows, we can check online for facts about an event. We can read different newspapers. It is always important to question sources and consider where your information comes from. When you read The Hunger Games, youll notice that the government has
its own spin doctors who analyze the Games and players. They decide what the public will and wont see in an effort to create a message that will control the audience. Youll also notice how the government uses propaganda to instill fear into the citizens in an effort to control their behavior. By controlling the accuracy and type of information the citizens receive, the government can maintain its power and control over the public. Have you ever heard the term spin doctor? Today, we use this term about the people who create a story around high-profile events such as a political scandal or a company that has done something wrong. The spin around an event is the bias someone
creates to influence how the public views the scandal or wrongdoing. This is a form of propaganda Comprehension Check: Whos In Control? A Look at Propaganda answer the following questions using complete sentences on a separate piece of paper. 1. What is propaganda? 2. Explain how the Nazi party used propaganda in World War II. 3. Compare propaganda with other forms of persuasion. How is propaganda different? 4. Evaluate why propaganda can be such a powerful way to persuade people. 5. Analyze the Buckle Up America poster. What elements of the poster categorize it as propaganda?
6. Infer why a government might want to use propaganda to promote something good like wearing seat belts. 7. Propose some other positive issues that could be promoted through propaganda. 8. How can you determine if something is propaganda? HISTORICAL CONTEXT: ROMAN INFLUENCES FRIENDS, ROMANS, COUNTRYMEN As you are reading The Hunger Games, youll begin to notice Roman names. Why might an author include names and references to
another culture especially an ancient one? There is no doubt that our lives today are greatly influenced by Roman culture. Greek and Roman civilizations are often referred to as classic, meaning something that holds its value throughout time. Indeed, much of our architecture, art, calendar, language, and even our numbers echo ancient Rome. Many civilizations have looked to ancient Greece and Rome as cultures to be emulated. A modern civilization that incorporates some Greek and Roman words, practices, and culture into its own gives the ancient culture special
importance and makes the modern culture appear to be part of a classic world. As you read the novel, decide if this is true of Panem, the imaginary location where The Hunger Games take place. Did Panem copy only the best of the Roman civilization? Suzanne Collins isnt the first author to want to use Roman names and influences. One famous playwright, William Shakespeare, used many Roman names in his plays. Look at the character names from The Hunger Games listed below and their Shakespearean counterpart.
Caesar Flickerman The name Caesar refers to Julius Caesar, emperor of Rome. Shakespeare wrote the play Julius Caesar about his assassination. While Caesar Flickerman isnt an emperor in The Hunger Games, he is a powerful public personality. Cato This is the name of a soldier in Julius Caesar. It makes sense that Cato in The Hunger Games has a very
soldier-like temperament. He is focused, determined, and has a mission to win. Cinna In the play Julius Caesar, there are two characters named Cinna. One is a poet, and the other has plotted against Caesar. The crowd captures and murders Cinna the poet not caring that theyve caught the wrong person. In The Hunger Games is Cinna a poet of sorts? He certainly is an artist and his costumes are symbolic. Claudius Templesmith In the play Hamlet, Claudius is the
name of Hamlets uncle and stepfather. Hamlet believes that Claudius has murdered his father. In the play Julius Caesar, Claudius is a guard. In The Hunger Games Claudius Templesmith is the announcer of the Games. Flauvius This name appears in both Julius Caesar and Timon of Athens. In Julius Caesar, Flauvius is disappointed about the support Caesar is receiving. In Timon of Athens, Flauvius is a servant. As a stylist in The Hunger Games, Flauvius is similar to a servant. The name actually means golden haired. Octavia In the play, Mark Antony and
Cleopatra, Octavia marries Mark Antony. Portia This name appears in two plays. In Julius Caesar, Portia is Brutuss wife who commits suicide by eating hot coals. In The Merchant of Venice, Portia disguises herself as a lawyer. Portia and Cinna are responsible for the fiery costumes Peeta and Katniss wear. OTHER ROMAN INFLUENCES YOULL FIND IN THE NOVEL: The Arena The area in which the Games will be held is called the
arena. An arena is similar to the Colosseum used to host gladiator games during the Roman times. A battle to the death In ancient Rome, gladiators fought to the death for the publics entertainment. Gladiators were usually slaves that were given special housing, food, medical care, and training. Sponsors invested in the gladiator as a way to gain public status and prestige. Capitol excesses The residents of the Capitol all appear to lead extravagant lives of wealth. Their excesses in fashion and food are similar to the wealthy ancient Romans. Chariot The tributes ride to City Center on a chariot a two-wheel, horsedrawn wagon. Ancient Romans used chariots as well.
Cornucopia This word comes from the goat horn that was used to feed the Greek god Zeus as a baby. Slaves/Avox The Romans had slaves who were often captured in wars and brought back to Rome. In The Hunger Games the Avox is a slave of sorts. Certainly, the Avox is not given any rights and is physically mutilated for a crime. Tribute The idea of a tribute comes from the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. Weapons Isnt it interesting that in the technologically advanced world of Panem the tributes are given primitive weapons? Bows, arrows, spears, and knives were the weapons of choice in ancient Roman times.
*RESEARCH PANEM Find out the meaning of Panem and see if you can figure out why Suzanne Collins chose that name for the location of the novel. Once you finish reading the novel, decide if your answer was correct.
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