On the Hunger Games trilogy

Gender Roles and Sexuality in Panem

By V. Arrow

From Katniss’ otherwise-concerned first-person narrative (at least until we read Finnick Odair’s confession of being tortured as a trafficked child slave in Mockingjay), it seems that the nation of Panem is sexless. Because Katniss does not take an interest in sex, or gender, one could come away from the Hunger Games trilogy believing that, at least for the purposes of this story, they are not especially crucial to the narrative. But although sex and gender are not a major part of the main plot of the Hunger Games, they play a role in the series that ranks second in importance only to race, class, and socioeconomic/ethnic privilege.

The Katniss-Peeta-Gale “Love” Triangle

The obvious exception, at least outwardly, to the aromantic tone of the series is the “love triangle” between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. It’s important to address this up front because, though sex and gender may play a pivotal role in the trilogy and in Panem, that role has nothing to do with the Katniss-Peeta-Gale story–which is not really a “love” triangle at all.

The most frequent understanding of the Katniss-Peeta-Gale love triangle is purely allegorical. Katniss, at the precipice of inevitable war and experiencing her first true chance to make affecting choices, must choose between Peeta, representing noble intentions, and Gale, representing revenge. At the time of The Hunger Games’ writing, the United States was three years into the war in Iraq and just learning that Iraq did not in fact possess weapons of mass destruction. Justification for warfare was a hot  …

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