The Hunger Revolution

Accompanying article to podcast episode titled The Hunger Revolution of the podcast Dark World Conversations with RJ Kelsay. Discusses similarities between The Hunger Games series and the historical French Revolution

RJ and Angie Kelsay

7/6/20235 min read

As always – spoilers a head! In preparing for this week’s podcast, we sat down and watched the entire Hunger Games four movie collection: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay part one, Mockingjay part two. The movie series The Hunger Games could e an allegory for the infamous French Revolution also known as Revolution of 1789. In this historical time frame King Louis XVI, Queen Marie-Antoinette (Marie-Antoinette-Josephe-Jeanne d’Autriche-Lorraine) and most of the aristocracy were beheaded. The similarities between the Hunger Games and that revolution are powerful, and we were reminded strongly of the events we learned of in school as we watched the movies. The Hunger Games novels were written by Suzanne Collins and portray a dystopian future in a world where decades earlier the oppressed people of the districts rose up in protest against the privileged people of the Capitol and lost. The Hunger Games were created as a form of punishment for the districts for the revolt against the leadership of Panem. In the story there are twelve districts, each is required to send two people, by lottery to participate in the games – to the death. These “tributes,” are then sent to the Capitol where they are paraded around for the entertainment of the rich and powerful of the Capitol. We noted that in the elaborate attire of the people of the Capitol there is definitely a strong comparison to the outlandish outfits favored by the French nobility in the years prior to the French Revolution. The tributes are then dolled up, graded, and forced to interview for the amusement of the people of the Capitol before they are sent to the almost certain death of the Hunger Games. Once there they have little choice but to fight each other to the death, with only one person being allowed to come out alive and victorious.

The people living in the Districts of Panem live in poor conditions while they toil away to provide for the citizens of the Capitol. In the book, Katniss describes deplorable living conditions, she elaborates about cooking up dogs, hunting rabbits for stew and the conditions that the citizens of District Twelve must live through in order to survive their meager existence. This is exasperated by the looming menace of the yearly Hunger Games in which children between the ages of twelve to eighteen are chosen via a lottery system to be forced to participate in the games which can only be described as an atrocity.

Once again there are similarities between this and France leading up to the French Revolution are poignant. Fortunately, however, for the French peasants they didn’t have to contend with death matches for the entertainment of their aristocracy. There is much speculation about the causes of the French Revolution, however, the prevailing consensus is that it was caused by the failure of the monarchy to adequately manage the rising social and economic inequality that began plaguing them as the population growth exploded – interest payments on government debt (much to support the lavish lifestyles of the powerful) led to an economic depression, unemployment and record high food prices. We see these same issues the Hunger Games series. Unfortunately, we are also beginning to see these same things beginning to occur in the real world again. What sparks a true revolution is the poor and oppressed finally saying enough is enough, when they can no longer support themselves and their families are left with no other option. This is evident in the Hunger Games in which the districts are dirt poor, especially District Twelve in which our hero, Katniss, lives.

Katniss describes describes the lottery system in which when youth reach the age of twelve their names are placed in a bowl once, twice at thirteen and so on. If they volunteer to put their name in more often then they receive more oil and grain for heat and food. When Katniss’s sister, Prim, is chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers herself. On the train to the Capitol she is meet by her mentor and the only person to ever win the Hunger Games for District Twelve, Haymitch Abernathy. Clearly he suffers from severe PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), being not only a survivor of the Hunger Games, but having his entire family killed by Snow. He has to mentor two people and watch them die. This means he has to choose whom he is going to help more.

The biggest problem in the world of the Hunger Games is that the people in the Capitol, including its President Coriolanus Snow, are oblivious to reality. This is showcased in the sequel Catching Fire, in which Snow gets the most horrendous advice from a supposed member of his own team. When Snow begins to see Katniss a possible threat to his rule and rebellion mascot, his advisor implies that the President should order more torture and executions to keep the people in check; which, in our opinion, would almost guarantee a rebellion spark. Sure enough the rebellion is actually underway, and Snow adds more fuel to the fire as he orders the destruction of District Twelve. In Mockingjay the rebellion has grown under the leadership of Alma Coin. However, we find out that Coin is just as bad, if not worse, than Snow. These same type of event popped up in the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution as well, eventuality culminating in the rise of Napoleon. During Snow’s execution Katniss executes Coin, ensuring that a new leader dedicated to democracy can be elected President.

In the French Revolution the peasants revolt against a corrupt aristocracy and government. They execute the aristocracy and in its place they make Robespierre the head of the French government in which he institutes the Reign of Terror, which leads to his eventual arrest. The new government then installed a general to run the French government by the name of Napoleon. A true revolution is born when the oppressed have no hope left and there is no further down to go – the only way left is to rise and take out their frustration against the tyranny responsible for their conditions. These events are something that our current leaders should be looking at as they seek to further drive a wedge between people with the increasing population of those in poverty and the elimination of the middle class. They should examine the backlash of continued routines of slashing programs that help people in need while giving additional and unneeded tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. Our Representatives are basically asking for a revolution as the gap between rich and poor continues to widen. Basically a revolution happens when enough people say “enough is enough.” Remember, to be vigilant and that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Disclaimer: It is important to note that the comparison between The Hunger Games series, and similarities between it and the French Revolution and the current state of the world are purely subjective and the opinion of the authors.


Encyclopedia Britannica

The Hunger Games Wiki

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite – Exploring the French Revolution