The Movies’ Symbolism and How it Stands Apart

The Hunger Games took the world by storm with the theatrical release of the first installment in 2012. While Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novels were already popular, the new movie brought the series even more fame and attention. Likewise, the sequels Catching Fire, Mockingjay Part 1, and Part 2 all performed well at the box office. The Hunger Games set the standard for a new generation of YA sci-fi dystopian films, and after its success, Hollywood adapted similar sci-fi dystopian books like Diverging and The Maze Runner into movies.

As the first Hunger Games film was released in 2012, it’s been 10 years since Katniss Everdeen first graced the silver screen. Today, the books and films continue to be popular, as evidenced by the success of Suzanne Collins’s 2020 prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which is confirmed for a film adaptation as production ramps up on the prequel. While there have been dozens of YA fiction movies before the film’s release and many after, The Hunger Games sets itself apart from these for several reasons.


Flower Symbolism in The Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence pulling a bow and arrow as Katniss in The Hunger Games

Perhaps the most interesting elements in The Hunger Games novels and films that sets this series apart from other YA series are the uses of symbols. Throughout the series, there are frequent references to flowers, bread, and the mocking jay. First, let’s look at the importance of flowers. To start off, there are several key characters named after flowers: Katniss, Primrose, and Rue.

Katniss, the story’s protagonist and heroine, is described as small but well-fed due to her ability to provide food for herself and her family. The Katniss plant goes by many names including duck potato, swan potato, arrowhead, and Sagittaria, its Latin name, which refers to an archer in the zodiac signs. Archery just happens to be Katniss’ specialty of hers. In the wild, the katniss plant commonly grows in wetlands but is an adaptable survivor, much like Katniss. Its leaves are edible, though it’s most valued for its roots which are nutritious and comparable in taste to a sweet potato.

Katniss’ younger sister, Primrose, is described as gentle and delicate, fair-haired and blue-eyed. The evening primrose, or Oenothera biennis, is a medicinal plant, often nicknamed ‘the king’s cure-all,’ and is a softening agent. This reflects Primrose’s personality from her, as she has a gift for healing, as opposed to Katniss who has a talent for hunting.

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During the games, Katniss encounters Rue, a 12-year-old female tribute from District 11. The pair form an alliance, but Rue doesn’t make it out of the games alive. The rue herb, Ruta graveolens, is often referred to as ‘herb-of-grace,’ as it’s a plant of purity used in many cultural and religious ceremonies. Rue is also featured in literature as a symbol of both freedom and regret. Rue’s death serves as a pivotal moment in the games for Katniss, who vows to avenge Rue’s death from her and gain her freedom from her by winning the games and surviving.

Besides the characters’ names, other flowers appear throughout the series. First, there are the pond lilies that Katniss uses to sustain her hunger for her. There are also references to dandelions and honeysuckles in the books, although the films gloss over them. Finally, there’s the deadly and poisonous Nightlock, which is fictitious but is likely a combination of two other poisonous species: deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), and poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). These berries are eaten by a contestant who is unaware of their deadly nature.

The Significance of Bread in Panem

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, a quiver of arrows on her back.

Bread appears throughout the books as well as the movies. The story takes place in the fictional world of Panem, which means bread in Latin. Bread is used to symbolize many things. The day of the reaping, Gale gifts expensive bakery bread to Katniss, giving her a sense of friendship and safety. Bread is also the connecting factor between Katniss and Peeta, who purposefully burns bread from his family’s bakery so that he can “discard” it and give it to Katniss.

After Rue’s death, the people of District 11 send Katniss a small loaf of bread, in gratitude for her friendship with Rue. Finally, we can’t forget that every district has its own special bread, unique to that region. Perhaps the idea of ​​a bread ‘rising,’ due to fermentation, is akin to the revolutions depicted in the films, in which people ‘rise up’ against the totalitarian government.

The Mockingjay: A Symbol of Rebellion

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, standing in a crowd of similarly dressed women.

The Mockingjay is used as a political weapon. In the books, it’s explained that the capitol created jabberjays, which were genetically altered birds created to spy on the districts for any hints of rebellious activity. Their purpose was to repeat any useful information back to the capitol. However, the rebels in the districts soon discovered the plan and used them against the capitol to spread false information.

Related: The Hunger Games: Here’s Where the Cast is Today

The capitol soon ceased using them and released the jabberjays into the wild, where they mated with mockingbirds, thus creating mockingjays. Their very existence is a slap in the face to the capitol, as they are a reminder of their failure. Katniss wears a mockingjay pin in protest against the capitol and later, the mockingjay is used as the symbol of the rebellion against the government.

Katniss is Motivated by Family Love

Katniss hugs Primrose in Hunger Games


Before the reaping, Katniss fears that her name will be called, or the name of her best friend, Gale. However, she is completely unprepared when Effie Trinket calls her sister’s name, Primrose, instead. Motivated by love for her sister de ella, Katniss does the unthinkable, and volunteers herself as a tribute to take her sister’s place de ella. As Katniss was the main provider of food and money for her sister and mother, Katniss worries about the conditions of her family while she is away. all through The Hunger GamesKatniss is motivated by love for her sister, as she vowed to Primrose to win the games and return safely back home.

Most YA fiction novels contain love story subplots, with romantic love being the driving force behind the characters’ actions. While it’s true that Katniss does eventually develop feelings for Peeta, her de ella fellow tribute from District 12, this romantic love is not her main driving force de ella, but rather, it’s about family love for her sister de ella that keeps her fighting for her life of her.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games

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