I just watched the second movie based on the book trilogy The Hunger Games. I read, follow, and participate in several groups of fellow book nerds and literature fans. Some of them truly enjoy this series, while others cannot stand it. Many of the fans of Narnia and Middle Earth can’t bring themselves to cheer for Katniss as a hero. She simply isn’t Christ like enough for them.
And honestly, I agree. Katniss isn’t a christ figure. More often than not she makes decisions based on self preservation of either herself or her specific loved ones. She isn’t interested in saving the world. She’s really just a girl trying to survive. So no, she is not very Christ like. Frodo and Aslan are much greater heroes.
For many the hero of The Hunger Games isn’t hero enough.
And yet, I still love these books and their story. The Hunger Games reminds me of the dangers of self pity, greed, abuse, neglect, slavery, cowardliness, and naivety. The story holds up a villain so dastardly and cruel that most walk away hating “the capital.” You can bash her hero all you like, but you’ll never convince me that Suzanne Collins failed at creating a true villain. The Capital seeks to create an economic machine powered by the abuse of the masses and the promotion of the few. And it not only does terrible deeds to the weak, it brings out the worst in its victims as well. Seeking to use fear, hate, and self preservation as motivating forces to keep the sheep in line. A true villain.
I don’t necessarily look to The Hunger Games to be reminded of Christ. I look to it to be reminded of evil and how real and possible and close evil can be. To borrow the story’s own words, “remember who the real enemy is.”
Frederick Buechner insists in his classic book Telling the Truth that the gospel is all about truth.
“Truth simply is, and is what is, the good with the bad, the joy with the despair, the presence and absence of God, the swollen eye, the bird pecking the cobbles for crumbs.” -Buechner
I don’t have a problem with Katniss Everdeen as a hero. Sure, she doesn’t measure up to Christ, but not many do. Katniss “is what is, the good with the bad.” And the story of The Hunger Games stays with me, because, perhaps, knowing who the enemy is may be just as important as knowing the hero.