On the Hunger Games trilogy

The Socioeconomics of Tesserae

By V. Arrow

The racially fueled class differences outlined in chapter three, both between districts and within District 12, are more than just a legacy from our world. They also perform an important function in maintaining the Capitol’s rule: separating and differentiating the country’s citizenry. Race, ethnicity, and culture provide a source of discord and tension that the Capitol relies on to suppress any organized rebellion in the districts. (If the residents of a district do not trust each other, they cannot work together to fight against the Capitol.) In fact, the sociopolitical system of Panem–the tesserae and the extra chance it brings of being selected as Hunger Games tribute–seems specifically designed to intensify this tension, by targeting the (darker-skinned) lower class:

I’ve listened to [Gale] rant about how the tesserae are just another tool to cause misery in our district. A way to plant hatred between the starving workers of the Seam and those who can generally count on supper and thereby ensure we will never trust one another. “It’s to the Capitol’s advantage to have us divided among ourselves,” he might say if there were no ears to hear but mine.THG14

In Panem, just as in the contemporary world and throughout virtually all of human history, race justifies social inequalities as natural through the role it plays in determining societal privilege. As the concept of race evolved, it provided a reason for the extermination of Native Americans, the exclusion of Asian immigrants, and the seizure of Mexican lands. And it did so  …

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