Essay on Capitalism and Oppression in The Hunger Games and Kindred

Essay on Capitalism and Oppression in The Hunger Games and Kindred

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The novels The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Kindred by Octavia Butler both contain examples of oppression created and/or worsened by the capitalist society in which they are set. In The Hunger Games, Collins creates a futuristic society of severe class inequality in which the children of the poor are killed for the political benefit and entertainment of the rich. Kindred is primarily set on a 19th century American slave plantation and examines the institution slavery in a fictional context. As Lois Tyson puts it, “getting and keeping economic power is the motive behind all social and political activities”-- this includes the Games from Collins’ novel, and the slave system described in Kindred (Tyson 52). Capitalism creates classism which encourages a culture of oppression in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Kindred by Octavia Butler, and real American society.
The residents of the districts in The Hunger Games are cruelly treated by the ruling Capitol. In the poorest districts, their labor as miners (District 12) or farmers (District 11) is exploited for the good of the rich while they slowly starve or are injured or killed by their dangerous work. This is very clearly a tale of capitalism run amok: the wealth disparity between the rich (the Capitol), the poor (most of the districts), and the “middle class” (the districts with Career tributes, 1 and 2) mirrors that of contemporary American society. Katniss is a vocal critic of this structure throughout the novel, often thinking things like “What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, th...

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... subtly tells women that they are inadequate, and in pursuit of profit reinforces and worsens sexist cultural beliefs to sell beauty and weight loss products. America suffers from severe income inequality, and a socioeconomic class system that puts poor people of color at the bottom, and a small minority of rich people-- who often profit off the misery of others-- at the top. The kind of capitalism seen in Americans society today could even be called the descendant of the society examined in Kindred, and, if preventative measures are not taken, the ancestor of the society of The Hunger Games.

Works Cited

Butler, Octavia E. Kindred. Boston: Beacon, 2003. Print.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.

Tyson, Lois. "Marxist Criticism." Critical Theory Today: A User-friendly Guide. New York: Garland Pub., 1999. 52-64. Print.

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