The GIRL on Fire: Burning Past Male Heroes
Since the 1960’s, America has become spidey-crazed. Between Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man comic, the Spider-Man TV series, the first, second, and third Spider-Man movies, and the Amazing Spider-Man movie, a person has multiple opportunities to ingest Spider-Man. The high consumer demand has made the original Spider-Man comic books extremely valuable and has also initiated the creation of multiple major motion pictures. If spiders serving as superheroes do not interest you, perhaps we should move on to Batman, Iron Man, or Superman. Sensing a trend? Hint: all of these superheroes have MAN in their name. Even in The Fantastic Four, men outnumber women three to one, if Invisible Girl even counts as a complete one! Interestingly enough, the male superheroes are strong and powerful. Women get shortchanged and become depicted as transparent girls within their superhero profession. Evidently women reach a mere 25% margin within the “Heroes” category, but female heroines do exist. For example, Wonder Woman is brave, buff, and scantily clothed (perhaps her male creator is to blame for her scandalous wardrobe). Yet, in The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins breaks through the ‘fictional’ glass ceiling and chooses a brave and strong young woman as her superhero.
The Hunger Games has become a widely popular sensation due to the unique perspective and storyline. The Hunger Games remains vastly different from previous hits, such as Twilight (although Collins does use a romantic edge to engage readers), by exposing the harsh reality of the world and warning readers of the potential constraint provided by corrupt governments. The story does not contain the classic ‘son takes over after father’s departure.’ Instead, Katniss, the female protagonist, assumed the role of provider after the death of her father while she simultaneously remained strong for her young sister, Prim. Katniss demonstrated her bravery in five different ways throughout the novel:
1.She provided food, illegally, to her family when her father died and her mother went mentally and emotionally dormant.
2.She protected Prim by acting as a volunteer in her place at the reaping.
3.She resisted crying on camera in order to remain strong for Prim.
4.She put herself at a distinct disadvantage in the games by nursing the nearly dead Peeta back to life.
5.She demonstrated her resistance to the Capitol when she shot an arrow into the Gamemakers’ dinner, gave Rue a proper burial, and outsmarted the Gamemarkers at the conclusion of the games.
Besides creating an innovative protagonist, Collins also makes The Hunger Games exceptional by her use of descriptive writing. For example, she describes, in great depth, the details of the food that surrounded Katniss. From her scant and monotonous food at home to the extravagant and luxurious food at the Capitol, the reader receives a better understanding of Katniss’ predicament and background, as well as outlining the significance of the Hunger Games. She also uses descriptive writing to hugely contrast the cheery life in District 1 (the location of the Capitol) and the dreary life in Katniss’ home, District 12. All of these factors compile to expose the evils of the world through the Utopian setting of the Capitol.
Although The Hunger Games does not provide readers with a warm and fuzzy feeling, it does provide young girls with a much needed heroine. Through the interwoven secrecy, courage, and resistance, the story offers a great adventure featuring a relatable and valiant protagonist. The girl on fire has managed to burn past male superheroes and finally break through the ‘fictional’ glass ceiling.