Writing my Hopkins essay, I found it evocative to look up dictionary definitions of seemingly important words. In reviewing one of Hopkins’ poems (I forget which one) I came across the word “quell.” I looked it up, and the definition reads: “put an end to (a rebellion or other disorder), typically by the use of force,” “subdue or silence someone,” and “suppress (a feeling, especially an unpleasant one).” What does this make you think of?! Well if you’re a fan of fantasy fiction, like me (and Kat, I think – see below) it may have made you think of The Hunger Games and more specifically the Quarter Quell..?
For those of you who don’t know – the Quarter Quell is a ‘special edition’ Games that happens every 25 years. In the second book of the series, the capital hosts the third Quarter Quell. The twist of this Quarter Quell is that there is no normal reaping, one male and one female victor (winners of past Games) from each district must compete. The ‘theme’ of the Quarter Quell is said to be randomly selected from a variety of options, but I believe this Quarter Quell was orchestrated to force Katniss back into the games as an attempt to dispel the inevitable rebellion. Katniss is the only female victor from district 12 so this concept works perfectly in favor (hah – get it) of the capitol’s agenda. After reading the definition of “quell,” I came to realize that the name of these quarterly games as the “Quarter Quell” foreshadows all that happens in Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Maybe this was evident to everyone else, but I thought this was crazy!
Shortly after this revelation, I saw the final movie of the series. The entire movie I kept thinking of what all these other titles and made up names infer. I think I can thank Arts One for that. Anyway, when I got home, I looked up a couple other definitions.
Firstly, Primrose is a flower known for being fragile and for its thin and short stem. They are also known for their reproductivity. Knowing this, might we have for seen Prim’s career as a doctor and even death? Alma is often the name of a deity associated with light and earth; “Coin” is defined as “A small piece of metal, usually flat and circular, authorized by a government for use as money” and “To devise.” Within these connotations and definitions could we have seen the death of Coin and the election of Alma?
I have read a lot of books but after this semester of analysis and close reading I have come to understand how much more depth there is in much writing – even in the Hunger Games. I think I will continue to see more meaning in most works of literature I read and in movies I watch.
PS. on another note – don’t you think the Hunger Games could be taught in an International Relations class?
**I realize this particular topic has little to do with the program itself, it is something that sparks my interest**
I’ve always had a love hate relationship with the novel genre considered “YA” or “Young Adult.” It seems that there is a certain stigma against those who are over the age of 17 and still read novels from the teen section at Indigo. I find that such novels find their designations not due to their writing or story (which can face mature themes and spark important conversations) but instead the degree of optimism found within. The novels of the intermediate period, between teen and adult, seem to hold an overwhelming sense of doubt that only intensifies in novels intended for adult readers. For example, the characters, story, and overall theme of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt seems to call upon the doubt in a person. The main protagonist, Theo Decker, seems to never catch a break. His life is just a series of losses (the loss of his mother, his home, his friends, his father) and reading it becomes a chore when the character only serves to suffer. Though there is a moral, it is not concrete or even particularly important to the story, Tartt appears to relish in the pain and hardship that Theo is put through. He goes from a messed up kid to an even more messed up adult, all the while losing loved ones like buttons off a cheap jacket. Though brilliantly written and captivating in its sadness, the novel carries with it a feeling of loss, and self-doubt. There is no happy ending, no light at the end of the excessively long tunnel. I understand the draw to more mature themes, more mature stories and the ideas encapsulated therein can be fascinating and act as an exceptionally interesting window into human nature but one cannot survive on strife and analysis alone.
For this reason, I have recently found myself drifting back to YA novels due to their exact “contraryness” to this drab overarching theme. The feeling of hope one can derive from simply reading a YA novel is not to be misplaced. Analytics and analysis are all well and good, but I dearly miss the days when a story could be just that, a story. Many of the novels and plays we have read this year have practical applications, ways in which the reader could find hidden or buried meaning in the words, and as interesting as I find that, I feel there is a magic lost. It seems to me that there can be no uncomplicated understanding, no easy way to read these novels through the eyes of a mature reader. This is the reason I have harkened back to the novels of youth, those with explicit morals and easy characters. They provide no challenge in understanding and usually end with what is considered a happy (or at the very least, happier) ending. Overall, I can appreciate the complex narratives and mature themes found in novel suited for older readers, but I simply can’t do without a significant dose of hope once and a while. Can you?
P.S: A novel series I would suggest if you’re into YA fantasy with more mature themes is the Abarat series by Clive Barker. The illustrations are divine and the story itself, engaging and fascinating.