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Catching Fire to it all

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[Top text] Winning means fame and fortune. Losing means certain death. The Hunger Games have begun... 
[Right text] The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
[Bottom text] Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you won't live to see the morning?


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On Friday, February 12, Boise police responded to a gun threat made by a man running loose in a neighborhood. Police arrived on the scene with such speed that they could be seen careening around corners, drifting and fishtailing, lights and sirens blaring. Patrols were both on foot and in vehicles. Those on foot patrolled along sidewalks, rifles in hand and ready to pursue and detain the suspect if sighted. Despite the fact that these actions were all in the interest of protecting the people, the sight was slightly reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984 government, in which the military had control over the civilian government and its citizens.

In the second installment to the Hunger Games series, Suzanne Collins addresses one of the most glaring and unstolved problems from the first book: the totalitarian government and it's cruel control over the 12 Districts. Catching Fire is an appropriate name, as it's representative of what Katniss, the "girl on fire" has done by unknowingly challenging the Capitol. Her small act of rebellion at the end of the first book sparks rebellion and defiance in many of the Districts, and this is the main plot conflict throughout the book.

…my world veered out of control […] Everyone I love doomed. And who knows who else will pay for my actions? Unless I turn things around […] Quiet the discontent and put the president’s mind at ease.

One of the most interesting and realistic parts of the book was the differing ways in which people reacted to the sparked rebellion. Many continued to live in fear of the Capitol, not wanting to do anything rebellious in fear of punishment, torture, and possibly death of themselves or their loved ones. However, some managed to scrape up a clear sense of rebellion, fed up with the inhumane treatment implemented by the totalitarian government. These people were willing to risk their lives for the prospect of a better life if they succeeded. A few chose not to live either way, simply fleeing their Districts—essentially going AWOL—and hoping to stay under the Capitol’s radar. This offered neither safety nor a truly better life, but was less risky than openly fighting against the government.

I can’t let the Capitol hurt Prim. And then it hits me. They already have. […] They have sat by as she almost starved to death. They have […] made her watch her sister fight to the death in the Games. She has been hurt far worse than I had at the age of twelve.

Imagine yourself in this situation: If you stay, you and your loved ones will be “safe,” as long as you live by the government’s rules and keep your head down. However, if you do this, you will essentially be submitting to and accepting the cruel ways of the government, and you will eliminate the possibility of an improvement in the quality of life for yourself and your loved ones. If you openly oppose the government, you do so with the knowledge that you risk not only your life, but those of your loved ones as well. If an uprising succeeds in gaining control over the government, there is the prospect of a better life—one where you live by your own terms. But in the face of failure, punishment, and probably death will be sure to follow. If you simply run away, you will not necessarily have to abide by the Capitol’s laws, but you will live in constant fear of discovery and your life will still be hard. You would be living a freer life, but still turning your back on the government’s inhumanity.

Prim…Rue…aren’t they the very reason I have to try to fight? Because what has been done to them is so wrong, so beyond justification, so evil that there is no choice? Because no one has the right to treat them as they have been treated.

This book offers an unflinchingly real look into what choices people would face if this terrible situation was a reality. Would you continue to live by the Capitol’s law and turn your head away from its cruelty in order to “protect” your family? Or would you rebel, risking your life and the lives of the ones you love in hopes of a better future? These are the challenges the characters face throughout the entire book. The only question that remains is what will happen to them as a consequence of their individual actions and decisions.

 

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