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Theme One: Interdependence vs. Independence
One of the themes in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins is interdependence vs. independence. Interdependence means when two people are mutually depending on each other. Independence is when someone is acting alone, free of control. In The Hunger Games book 2, Katniss and Peeta are definitely interdependent. They are both helping each other to survive. As a matter of fact, they want the other one to survive more than they do themselves. They are actually putting themselves in more danger because they are trying to help each other win in the arena.
Not only are Katniss and Peeta interdependent of each other in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, but they are also interdependent on the other tributes in the arena such as Johanna and Finnick. Haymitch and the sponsors, who send gifts into the arena, are also helping Peeta and Katniss to survive.
Independence is not really a factor in The Hunger Games book 2 although Katniss wants to be independent. She shows this time and again though her thoughts and her feelings when she is back from the Hunger Games as a victor at the beginning of Catching Fire, and she wants to continue her life the way it was before--hunting with Gale and providing food for her mother and sister. Her life of independence is over when she wins the Hunger Games at the end of the first book. She is now interdependent on Peeta and the story they have created about their love in order to survive and save her family.
What are some specific moments in the arena when the tributes are showing their interdependence?
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Theme Two: Loyalty
What does loyalty mean exactly in this world with the Capital and the 12 districts? Who should Katniss, Peeta, and Gale be loyal to--each other, their families, their district, or the Capital? These are the questions that are explored in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. The question of loyalty occurs at many different levels in The Hunger Games book 2.
- Loyalty between Gale, Peeta, and Katniss: Who should Katniss be loyal to? Peeta has stuck by her through the Hunger Games, and he is in love with her. His love most likely saved her life. His calm demeanor and friendship is probably still saving her life. Then there's Gale. He has been her best friend and hunting buddy for many years. Does she owe him her loyalty? This dilemma causes constant internal conflict for Katniss in Catching Fire.
- Loyalty to family: Should Katniss, Peeta, and Gale be loyal to their families above all others? What should Katniss focus on--doing anything to save her mother and Prim no matter what? Do you feel like Katniss is loyal to her family? What about Peeta and Gale?
- Loyalty to the Capital: The Capital expects ulitmate loyalty. If a district citizen is not loyal to the Capital, then he or she can expect a brutal punishment or maybe even death. But is everybody loyal to the Capital? Not hardly. For example, Katniss and Gale hunt even though they are not supposed to. What are some other examples of disloyalty?
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Theme Three: Government Control
Government control is another huge Catching Fire theme. Both books in The Hunger Games series focus on this theme since the Hunger Games are a direct result of government control. In the first book, the government rears its ugly head several times by making young children and teens fight to their death as a reminder of the Capital's ultimate control. In book two, the government exerts even more control over the main characters:
- President Snow personally threatens Katniss in her home.
- The 75th annual Hunger Games have "new" rules that cause Katniss and Peeta to be in danger once again.
- More "Peacekeepers" are placed in districts to squash any hope that the citizens started to have after the last Hunger Games.
- Examples of the government's brutality are shown throughout Catching Fire.
Without the huge amount of government control in these novels, the events could not occur as they do. This theme may lead you to these types of questions: How much government control is necessary to keep order? How much is too much? What about my government? What do I think/feel about how much control they have? Should they have more or less? Have their been governments similar to the one in The Hunger Games series in the real world?
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Theme Four: Rebellion
Catching Fire also focuses on rebellion. Katniss has had her own forms of rebellion throughout The Hunger Games series. When she threatens to commit suicide with Peeta at the end of book one in the arena, that was a form of rebellion. When she continues to hunt even though she has enough food in book 2, she is rebelling against the Capital's laws.
Also in Catching Fire, Katniss wonders if the districts could hold more uprisings like they did in the past. Could district citizens really fight against the Capital and protest the Hunger Games? What signs of rebellion do Peeta and Katniss see when they go on their Victory Tour? How does the Capital react to these signs of rebellion?
You can also discuss why the Capital is so scared of rebellion. Why are those in power so fearful, and how do signs of rebellion effect those in power?
Novel Study Guide: Themes in Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
If you or your class is reading "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins, then you are enjoying a terrific young adult science fiction sequel to "The Hunger Games." This series of articles will help you understand the book and look deeper into the pages of "Catching Fire."