On the Hunger Games trilogy

Mapping Panem

By V. Arrow

A significant part of what makes the Hunger Games trilogy unique within the genre of dystopian sci-fi is not its plot (which is both based in real history and a common trope within the genre, an oppressive political regime forcing the disenfranchised to become citizen—gladiators) or its characters (many of whom serve largely as archetypes and allegories) but the nation of Panem itself.

Like many other fictional dystopian nations, it is North America–But Not: recognizable to us as our own culture but different enough that it should not be held to the same cultural or sociological standards. Panem, like any other culture, has its own structure of values and standards based on its history, ethnic make-up, economy, and geography. Although Katniss lives in the coal-mining shadow of the Appalachian Mountains, she does not live in West Virginia or Pennsylvania or Virginia: she lives, very particularly, in District 12’s Seam, and every decision she makes is a product of that place and its culture. So, as a fan of the series, what I wanted to know was–just where, and what, is District 12? And how does it fit in to Panem as a whole?

For me, involvement in the Hunger Games fandom really began with the creation of a map of Panem, and that’s the most logical place for this guide to begin, too.

We see very little of Panem over the course of the Hunger Games trilogy. But what we do see during the Victory Tour in Catching Fire really drove home for  …

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