The theme of class takes a central place in the novel of Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games. The book gives a descriptive account of how the residents of the Capitol and those of the surrounding districts are given different social and economic status across Panem. The rich enjoy all kinds of privileges while the poor languish in abject poverty. The Hunger Games presents a true reflection of Panem considering that the Capitol and its districts are inhabited by rich and poor people respectively. Wealthy merchants reside in the Capitol while the poor live in the Seam, the poorest region of the District 12. Although it is widely believed that America is a land of equal opportunity for all, class distinction is a force to reckon with.
In The Hunger Games, economic and social disparities between the affluent Capitol and the deprived District 12 accentuate the elements of class inequality in Panem. Based on Collins’ explicit description of Meadow, it emerges that District 12 is the poorest district. The residents of the Seam, a region within District 12, are sunk deep into poverty, thus spend most of their time hunting in the woods. “I swing my legs off the bed and slide into my hunting boot... I pull on trousers, a shirt, tuck my long dark braid up into a cap, and grab my forage bag” (Collins 4). Hunting, a common strategy to provide food for starving families, is widely practiced by Katniss, the main character, and other poor people.
It is evident that starvation takes its toll on all families throughout Meadow. Katniss’s family, her mother and sibling, Prim, could not even make her smile in the morning because they are frustrated and worried a lot, “my little sister, Prim, curled up of her side, cocooned in my mother’s body, their cheeks pressed together” (Collins 3). This indicates that lack of food caused desperation.
The entire neighborhood of the District 12 is neglected by the government authorities despite the presence of wild animals from the surrounding forests. The residents of District 12 run a higher risk of contracting deadly diseases because of the unhygienic conditions around their houses. Furthermore, “a high chain-link fence topped with barbed-wire loops. In theory, it’s supposed to be electrified twenty-four hours a day as a deterrent to the predators that live in the woods-pack of wild dogs, lone cougars, bears- that used to threaten our streets” (Collins 4). Consequently, the residents of District 12 are constantly at risk of succumbing to deadly attacks by wild dogs and bears unlike the residents of the Capitol.
In addition, the residents of the District 12 are compelled to do odd laborious jobs in coal mines in a bid to make ends meet. A part of the District 12 residents not only works in the coal mines throughout the day where they suffer physical injuries on knuckles but they are also predisposed to lose their lives in the event of a coal mine explosion. This is how Gale’s and Katniss’ fathers died, leaving behind the younger hunters to fend for their families at a much tender age.
“Our part of District 12, nicknamed the Seam, is usually crawling with coal miners heading out to the morning shift at this hour. Men and women with hunched shoulders, swollen knuckles, many who have long since stopped trying to scrub the coal dust out of their broken nails, the lines of their sunken faces” (Collins 4).