Hello there and welcome to “The Agency Games Friday!” On these days, I will be talking all about Suzanne Collin’s famous Hunger Games series! Some of my posts include excerpts that did not make it into my upcoming book or just character discussion. Have any fun questions or comments about The Hunger Games or something you think I should talk about? Drop me a line in the comments!
Today, we are going to discuss the term “reaping.” Now, there are two kinds of people in the world. Person A immediately recognizes this term from The Hunger Games from the title “Reaping Day.” Person B vaguely recalls that this is a term we used to use to refer to when workers would go out in the fields and bring in the harvest. Let’s just say that Collins certainly knew what she was doing when she chose to title the day in which the Capitol steals two children from each district Reaping Day.
So, let’s go ahead and unpack this word, because really, all it takes is one word for Collins to create layer upon layer of meaning in this one scene:
The term “reaping” can have several connotations from the positive imagery of gathering a harvest all the way to the negative concept of a grim reaper. These contradictory interpretations depict both the relief parents feel when their child is not chosen as tribute and the grief that other parents feel when their child is reaped. Furthermore, there is something very violent about the action of reaping. Indeed, it involves the cutting down of whatever is being collected. Likewise, the tributes are being cut down as their identity is stripped away.
Now we have this new term, tribute, and once again, Collins integrates significance with its usage.
In naming those selected to participate in the Games “tributes,” the Capitol attempts to place a positive light on their sacrifice as tribute often refers to a gift willingly given to appease the gods during ancient times. However, despite the Capitol’s pre-approved terminology, the tributes do not give themselves freely, rather the Capitol claims their lives forcibly. In incorporating terms such as reaping and tributes, Collins depicts the bodies of the districts as commodities which the gluttonous populace of the Capitol consumes, unable to see beyond their faux peacock eyelashes. Tributes are subjected to cameramen that perch “like buzzards” and “gobble up” the images of the sacrificial children to feed the audience back home.[i] It is not enough that the districts be punished, the tributes must be humiliated and their bodies must become public property . . . (learn more about the bodies of the tributes and agency in my upcoming book!)
[i] Collins, Hunger, 41
Join me next Friday for more discussions on The Hunger Games!
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