The Hunger Games is Actually All About Food (Duh)

by Siobhan Adcock,

Okay, yes, I may be late getting on this bandwagon, but I just finished reading the YA novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, because I've been hearing so much about it and about the movie that's coming out soon. It should have been obvious to me from the title, I'm sure, but none of the rabid fans who recommended the book to me made any mention of the fact: This book is actually all about food.

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On one level, it's about violence and the psychological damage it inflicts on children, as Collins herself explains it. And it's about a love triangle, sort of. And it's basically an action-adventure story. But as a reader I can't escape the fact that The Hunger Games is obsessively, intensely focused on food: Who has it, who doesn't, what it means, when it's eaten and by whom.

Over and over again in the novel, food is held out as the primary reward for everything from a simple act of kindness to surviving unspeakable trauma and bloodshed. Katniss, the main character and narrator, is slowly starving to death along with her family and the rest of her town when the story begins, so her quest for food is actually the main action of the novel for a good 30 pages or so. Food in this novel is the ultimate expression of love, especially for Katniss, but also for her two love interests, Gale and Peeta, whose first offerings of affection for her take the form of food. And food is also an emblem of indulgence and excess: Katniss describes almost nothing else about a lavish party she attends in the Capitol but what she eats, what the pampered partygoers are eating, and the horrible way in which these fashionable people make room to eat beyond their physical limits.

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And then of course the final scene hinges on something Katniss and Peeta can choose to eat, or not eat. But at the risk of spoiling the ending for the two remaining humans in North America who have not read the book I'll say no more.

Anybody else read this book through the eyes of a food lover? What did you think?

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