On the Hunger Games trilogy

How Panem Came to Be

By V. Arrow

Although conjectures about geological cataclysm would explain the physical borders–perhaps even the provincial organization–of Panem, its true dystopian horror comes from a cataclysm of a more anthropogenic nature. Panem is post-apocalyptic because of the end of our known world geography, but it is dystopian because of its political, socioeconomic, and cultural collapse and the ways it is dealt with by the Capitol. After all, it isn’t centralized government like the Capitol’s or geographically disparate states that is frightening; it is the operation of the Hunger Games, a system that targets its disenfranchised for death. Although employing the Hunger Games as reparations for civil war is unjust enough, the Games’ enforcement of a society built on institutional classism–and, we can infer from the text, racism–is truly horrifying. (Racism and classism will be discussed in chapters three and four.) Shifting geography alone could not cause this kind of catastrophic change in ideology–so what happened in Panem to cause so much fear and violence?

One of the most realistic explanations for the strict divisions of the districts and the depth of the Capitol’s institutional prejudice against district citizens would, however, stem from that geological shift. Specifically, a predictable aspect of the downfall of North America as we know it and the rise of Katniss’ Panem would be the reaction of the United States to a massive influx of immigrants as a result of cataclysmic flooding.

Nobel Prize recipient and former vice president Al Gore considered this kind of scenario in his global warming documentary, An  …

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