Jen Evans, Fashion Junkie.
1. Starting with the least similar themes, the set-up of Panem is composed of the Capitol and 12 (at first) Districts that each have a special manufacturing specialty in contributing to the Capitol's comfort. The U.S. has a capital, the District of Columbia, and in this way they have in common is that both governments are centralized. Although we have 50 states which also have their own sets of laws, Federal laws usually take precedence over state laws. We also have certain states that specialize in manufacturing certain goods. Coal? West Virginia (District 12). Fabrics? North Carolina and Massachusetts (District 8). Seafood? Alaska (District 4). Fruits and vegetables? California (District 11). Lumber and paper? Washington (District 7). And the list goes on.
2. Although the U.S. has representatives from all 50 states represented by Congress, the governing body operates out of the Capitol by one head of state, voted into office. Our military is our form of protection. Panem, though, runs like dictatorship; there is one head of state, all the rules come out of the Capitol, and everything is enforced by the military. The commonality is that there is a right to bear arms. It's still America!
3. Both governments are a plutarchy: it is a government by the wealthy that benefits the wealthy. Look at the pay of our financial sector CEO's who take home hundreds of millions of dollars a year in pay and get government bailouts. Madge, the mayor's daughter, will never face a reaping "because of a slim to impossible chance of being drawn... those rules were set up by the Capitol" (THG, pg 13).
4. No universal health care coverage: unless you're a wealthy person living in the Capitol, you're out of luck unless you know Katniss's mother. (CF, pg. 112). She's the only person with any healing ability in District 12. The Capitol has state-of-the-art medical services (THG pg. 348) that heal Katniss and Peeta after the games. Here you can have a great PPO and go to the physician of your choice, or wait out anything but the worst symptoms for you or your family members, effectively sending you to an emergency ward when it's time.
5. Pork barrel politics: although all tributes are supposed to start out on equal footing (for example, no prior training, same food sources, etc.), the tributes in Districts 1, 2, and 4 are fed and trained (THG, pg.94). They are given this advantage by the Capitol because they provide the Capitol with luxury items (District 1), weapons (District 2), and seafood (District 4).
6. Use of military propaganda to further political solidarity: When Katniss and crew go to find snow, Plutarch says, "You're going to be useful to the war effort as possible... and it's been decided that you are of most value on television" (MJ, pg.257). Same as with saving Peeta (MJ, pg.166); it was like the U.S. "saving" PFC Jessica Lynch, glamorizing her rescue as the "first female POW" saved. The fact was, they just removed her from a hospital. A larger tragedy was the Pat Tillman story, who was an Army Ranger whom was was said to be "a hero in Afghanistan." The reality was a cover-up of friendly fire.
7. Quid pro pro agreements: Katniss says, "I have power I never knew I possessed... Snow knew it... and Coin knows now." So much so that she must publicly remind her people that I am not in control (MJ, pg. 91). In order for Coin to gain the respect of all the districts, she must have Katniss / the Mockingjay on her side. So Katniss agrees with Coin "to devote herself to their cause" (MJ, pg.57) in return for Coin sparing the lives of Peeta, Enorbia, Johanna, and Annie. Coin's arrangement with Kat (MJ, pg. 350), was also that Katniss could kill Snow. We know less about covert quid pro quo arrangements but more obvious political ones may be Ford pardoning Nixon after resigning the Presidency. Perhaps Hillary Clinton bowed out of the Presidential race and threw her votes behind Obama, the result being appointed Secretary of State.
8. Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it (Santayana): new leaders sometimes fail to learn from the past mistakes of other leaders. Patently obvious with President Coin in relation to Snow. Bombing people for military gain? (MJ, pg.349). Check. Keeping the Hunger Games? (MJ, pg. 369). Check. Genocide? (MJ, pg.368). Check. In more recent times: starting philosophical/religious wars against Afghanistan (Muslims!) versus in the 50's and 60's in Korea and Vietnam (Communists!). We can argue that Iraq is a religious war but is such an oil-rich country that, as H. Ross Perot would say, "That dog don't hunt." Blood for oil? Relevant issue today. In Daniel Yergin's amazing novel "The Prize", WWII was a hunt of the Axis German and Japan to invade oil-rich countries (Russia and Indonesia, respectively) to fuel their empire growth.
More questions on The Hunger Games:
- Does race or ethnicity play a role in The Hunger Games series?
- What does The Hunger Games series say about reality television?
- What is the moral of The Hunger Games series?