Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hunger Games thoughts, part deux: But the VIOLENCE! But the CHILDREN!

I think I was on book 2, Catching Fire, before I looked down and saw the Scholastic trademark that I was oh so familiar with from my childhood. As an avid reader, I practically saw that red Scholastic symbol in my sleep, since they published so many of the books I read. I was taken aback by that for just a moment, and had to remind myself, "Right. These books ARE written for kids." And then someone popped up and introduced herself in my psyche. I'll call her Prudence the Prude. She isn't a prude in the sexual sense. She is my inner violence prude. Prudence said, "B-b-but the VIOLENCE! The CHILDREN!"

(in my head, I picture Prudence as Church Lady)

I had to really stop and think about that for a moment. These books are violent. I mean, they're about children being forced to fight to the death with other children. These deaths are described in fairly good detail. It's not glossed over or sugar coated. The characters don't collapse into a pile of shiny coins or sparkles and rainbows.

Well, I thought, you certainly can't shield kids from much violence in this world without locking them in their rooms forever, with no TV, no phone, no computer, and apparently no books. And when you think about it, that is pretty violent in and of itself. No, kids are going to be exposed to violence whether we like it or not. It's on the playground when kids get in fights or bully each other. It's the road rage they witness (from you or from others) as you drive home. It's on the 6 o'clock news. As if that's not enough, there are always those pesky and oft-blamed violent video games. Why not add books to the mix? I mean, at least they're reading, right?

Then, an awesome thought occurred to me. What if, in this instance, the violence has a purpose? And if that purpose is served, what if it's a good thing?

I said in the last entry that these books have a lot of themes that force us to think about the world we live in. The Hunger Games teaches valuable lessons in doing what is right, standing up to oppression, sacrificing for a greater cause, just to name a few. The story the books tell is instrumental in teaching that lesson, and I don't know that a less graphic tale could teach it as well. The violence is not pointless or senseless. It is framed to tell a story and teach many lessons. To me, that makes all the difference.

So, with that thought I banished Prudence back to a dusty corner of my brain, ordering her not to return until she finds something more worthy of judgment. Like those Captain Underpants books. Those are stupid. But that's another rant for another day.

Do you have thoughts on The Hunger Games, violence, or Prudence? Let me know below.


Anonymous said...

Hey, one thing is adults slaughtering eachother in wars, another is when children are slaughtering and torturing eachother..
What on earth could possibly be worse? Anybody got any answers?
How can things become more satanic and mind controlling than this?
It's not so much as children reading these books will be affected by the violence, so much as them thinking about why adults would write books about children murdering eachother.
I know that's how I thought when I was younger.

Anonymous said...

What kind of sick and twisted mind conjures up these kinds of horrors against children?

Anonymous said...

Last year my sixth grade class read the whole Hunger Games Trilogy. Best books I have ever read. WE have A poster for the movie hanging up in our school hallway. A catholic school by the way. And my class and two other grades are going to go see the movie when it comes out. So these books can't be that bad at all. And No adult, not even the president could keep me from reading and re-reading the Hunger Games
-Just Saying

The Kuh said...

Anonymous 1 and 2 - Have you actually read the books? My guess is that you haven't. Go read them and if you still agree with your own comments, come on back and we'll have an intelligent discussion.

Anonymous 3 - Good for you, and good for your school. I hope that these books have given you something to think about, and maybe have inspired you to do your part in making the world a better place. Knowledge is power. It seems cliche, but it's true. Keep reading. Keep learning. And never let anyone keep you from it.

Cindi said...

Very well said! These books were recommended to me by a friend and even though they were in the YA section, I decided to read anyways. I am glad I did, as they are amongst the best books I have read in many years. After reading them, I decided to let my 11 year old daughter read them also. She gobbled them up. I think before automatically putting them down and refusing to let their kids read them, parents need to read them first and make that decision based on their own child. All kids are different. Suzanne Collins stated that the idea for these books came from flipping through channels between the news and seeing war coverage and reality tv shows. If anyone thinks their kids haven't seen the same, they are living under a rock. Sheltering kids, in my opinion is bad, and to automatically equate kids becoming violent based on the amount of FICTIONAL violence they are subjected to, is silly. Case in point, my cousin was very sheltered his entire childhood, all the way up until he became an adult. For crying out loud, his mother covered his eyes during the microwave scene in Gremlins! That sheltered kid turned into a murderer who killed his own mother. On the other hand, I watched pretty much anything I wanted as a kid, read what I wanted, played the games I wanted, etc and I am a peace loving person who saves lizards from the clutches of my cats, lol. So please people (like Anonymous 1 and 2, whom I suspect are the same person), give kids a bit more credit than what you apparently are.

The Kuh, thank you for writing an INFORMATIVE blog about these books and using common sense instead of having a knee jerk reaction to one aspect of this wonderful series.

Anonymous said...

I am actually getting a lot of heat from other parents for letting my 10 and 11 year old boys read these books. We have had so many good discussions come from reading these books. I must admit I tend to error on the side of maybe allowing something I might regret. I grew up in an environment where kids were sheltered from EVERYTHING. Once these kids reached adulthood they made very poor decisions. I want to protect my kids from things they are not ready for, but not so much that they will freak out when faced with choices. I would rather be there to help them think through things then let them wing it on their own.. Can't get this to sign I under my google account.

The Kuh said...

I am very thankful to both of you last two commenters. I am glad there are parents who are thinking like you do.
I certainly Anonymous 1&2 are as critical of their kids reading the Twilight series, which I feel is far more detrimental to our children's minds, especially our young girls. But that is another post for another day. :)

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