She is trapped in a broken system of violence, poverty, and societal expectations.
The Hunger Games serve as a grim reminder of the failed uprising of Districts 1-13 in Panem almost a century prior to the setting of the books. Now, there are only 12 Districts (officially). 13 was destroyed by the incomparable Capitol. Filled with the “best” Panem has to offer, the Capitol also houses the infamous President Snow.
Snow’s hatred for our Katniss is sparked by her stunt she pulled in the 74th Hunger Games. Her and the male Tribute from 12, Peeta, almost committed suicide. You see, the Games only have one victor in the 24 contestants (2 from each District, male and female). The rest are killed by the other Tributes til one is crowned victor.
Katniss and Peeta are stopped, both being crowned victors in the 74th Hunger Games.
And so it begins.
I’ll forego a synopsis of the other two books (Catching Fire and Mockingjay), because I want to focus more on the people than the actual books.
Peeta loves Katniss, while receiving absolutely nothing in return. He sets himself up for hurt after hurt, but he still loves. Katniss is confused, but never truly reciprocates until the final pages of the final series.
In those three sentences lie a truth completely obscured from our self-centered culture’s “me-relationships”.
As Tim Keller points out in his new book The Meaning of Marriage, we’ve lost a love for one other. Even in our relationships, it’s about us staying the same, and the other person adapting to our wants and “needs”. The idea that relationships are about receiving, not sharing is killing marriage as a whole.
Self-sacrificial love is an unheard of concept, and is detestable to our human nature.
But Suzanne Collins thinks it should be more than that. I would agree with her.
Relationships are more complex that “just” feelings or emotion. They are complex down to the core of our souls, and Katniss and Peeta capture that beautifully.
Some people would make an argument that there is only one person out there, a “soulmate” if you will. So what they do is they wait and wait to get married, all the while tasting all different kinds of people (figuratively and literally) in an attempt to find this soul mate.
I hate to break it to you. There are no such things as soulmates. Not in the sense that our American culture has defined for us anyway. Marriage isn’t about you. It’s about the other spouse, and how you must choose to serve them day in and day out. This doesn’t match up to the “perfect” me-marriages our culture sets the standard of. There’s no such thing as “get married and life will be easy because I will constantly receive and never have to give anything.” That world doesn’t exist. Marriage is about commitment. If you don’t have that, then you’ll just add to the upsetting divorce statistics.
Christians, please don’t get me wrong! The person you marry is the person you are to be committed to, and in that sense a “soulmate” type of thing is worked out. However, the idea that we can sit on our haunches to be served by a “soulmate” is the thinking I’m attempting to flesh out.
On a different note, and in light of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I’d like to start a discussion on Katniss and how she morphs through the series.
After the Hunger Games, her life is changed forever by what seems to be PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). Even the slightest sight, sound, smell, or touch sends her back into the midst of the uncomprehendable pain of the Games, and she needs to be reconstructed again and again into something that resembles a functioning human being.
This is the experience of assault victims.
In fact, next to war veterans, sexual assault victims report the highest PTSD symptoms of any other demographic. Why?
Sexual assault doesn’t just damage the body. It damages the soul. The damage done flows through every aspect of their being until they’re utterly destroyed in every sense. In the words of one of my friends, ”The places that once were safe became the sources of pain and hurt.”
I was co-teaching Sunday School at Fellowship Bible Church recently on Judges 19 and 20, the Levite and his concubine.
The Scriptures recount a horrific period of Israel’s history, where a Levite was staying in a strangers house for the night when the house was surrounded by men who wanted to rape him. Rather than allowing this, he threw his concubine outside for the men to have instead. I’ll let Scripture tell exactly what went on:
the man seized his concubine and took her outside to them. They raped her and abused her all night until morning. At daybreak they let her go. 26 Early that morning, the woman made her way back, and as it was getting light, she collapsed at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was.
27 When her master got up in the morning, opened the doors of the house, and went out to leave on his journey, there was the woman, his concubine, collapsed near the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28 “Get up,” he told her. “Let’s go.” But there was no response.
-Judges 19:25-26 HCSB
The implication here is that the men raped her until death.
Now, these types of stories are not uncommon in Scripture, they’re just rarely ever taught. So the class tried to make light of it. A common response to something so repulsive.
I was never taught this passage when I was a kid. It was one of the first times I had read through this story, and it made me want to throw up. Not only because it was horrible, but because I know of people that would consider this woman lucky because she died. She didn’t have to live through each day wondering when it would happen next.
I shared with the class just before they left that statistics would indicate that one of the girls and two of the guys in the room have been sexually assaulted. The room got very quiet. I explained how common this atrocity is, and how the proper response isn’t to make light, but to address the issue with grace and humility.
It made me sad, that no one is educated on how to respond to sexual abuse, though it is so prevalent. I want to do my part by opening communication with me as a safe place for victims to run to. I also want to share this group of articles to help as many people as I can with the Gospel of Jesus.
So at this point I’ll apologize for not being a great writer and for all that being hard to follow Find me on twitter (@shrankaplooza) or on Facebook (facebook.com/shrankaplooza) or on Google + (Jesse Gruber) and we can talk more about the books, or sexual assault.