The Hunger Games
Suzanne Collins
Contributed by Machelle Schuler
Symbols
Symbols are objects or figures that artists use to represent an idea.
Katniss’s Bow and Arrow

Katniss’s prowess with her bow and arrow is one of her defining characteristics. Early on in the novel, we learn that her deceased father first taught her archery when he was not working in the mines. Thus, from the beginning Katniss’s bow and arrow is a symbol of her relationship with her dad. When her father is killed in a mining accident and Katniss must assume the role of family breadwinner, her archery tools symbolize her independence, her ability to provide a livelihood for her family, and the heavy responsibilities she bears. By the end of the novel, when Katniss’s ability with a bow and arrow prove to be highly useful in the games, they are symbolic of her fighting spirit and success as a competitor.

Nightlock

About halfway through the Games when there are less than 10 tributes left, Claudius Templesmith, one of the hosts of the Games, announces that the Gamemakers have made a new rule. If the two tributes from the same District are the final 2 tributes alive, they can both be crowned victor. This new rule turns out to be a farce on the part of the Gamemakers, who wanted to stage a final epic showdown between “the star-crossed lovers of District 12.” Once Katniss and Peeta have defeated all the other tributes, Claudius announces that the new rule has been revoked and that there can only be one winner. Rather than be a pawn in the Capitol’s game Katniss decides to win on her own terms. Remembering the nightlock she kept handy, she gives some to Peeta and reasons that the Capitol would rather have 2 winners than none at all. She is proven correct when both she and Peeta are declared the winners of the 74th Hunger Games.

In this way the nightlock berries are symbolic of rebellion and revolution, of fighting back against the Capitol. They illustrate that it is possible to outsmart the Gamemakers and the Capitol as a whole at their own game. This moment is the turning point not only for Katniss and Peeta, but also for Panem as a whole.

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