More than a few spoilers here for Catching Fire.
I think we’ve all heard it more than a few times: “If you believe it, you can achieve it!” Or really, any variation on that general theme. It’s something I’ve heard from childhood, that nothing is impossible if you really, really want it. That any dream is achievable with enough hard work and application of resources.
In Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games trilogy however, I’m fascinated by how thoroughly this idea is refuted. Instead of telling children that they can do anything, there is the somewhat fatalistic slogan “may the odds be ever in your favor”. There’s almost a tacit acceptance that sometimes you are simply the unlucky one and nothing can change that fact.
Katniss has been praised by many as a very active heroine, as opposed to more passive heroines such as Bella Swan from Twilight. Certainly, Katniss attempts with all her strength to change the course of events throughout the book to keep her loved ones safe. She actively fights every battle, both literal and more metaphorical. At the same time, so many events happen which are out of her control. Katniss is unable to prevent Peeta from going back into the arena in the Quarter Quell. She can’t, despite her best efforts, prevent uprisings from taking place in the districts. Knowing nothing about the grand plan to break her out of the arena, Katniss can’t stop Peeta from being captured from the Capitol.
Despite all of Katniss’ ingenuity, hard work, and use of her resources, she is unable to achieve her one goal in Catching Fire: Peeta’s safety. She is also unable to achieve a more overarching goal to be left to her own life in peace with her loved ones safe.
At the same time, Katniss’ efforts are nothing short of heroic. And I couldn’t help but feel that despite everything and everyone she is unable to save, her actions made a difference.
Is there a place between “if you believe it, you can achieve it” and “may the odds be ever in your favor”? Is Katniss able to find it? Do you think Katniss is in charge of her destiny, or mostly being manipulated by fate or other people? How do you think this balance plays out in real life?