Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Nature of Evil

Dr. Barons lecture started out by looking at three different disciplines within our societies; Psychology, Sociology, and Philosophy. Psychology and sociology both use intrinsic thinking and also thinking based on pre-provided facts. For soc and psych, there is qualitative research and proof of findings in which you can base assumptions on.
In Philosophy, there is no proof or data that you base any answer on, rather your morality and ethics come into play. The first question we were asked by Dr. Baron was if we would save the buss full of children on kill one innocent life to save many. Instances like this one tend to be the hardest decisions that one would be able to make in their life. There is no "right" or "wrong" thing to do at this point in time and walking away is not an option.
In our modern day society, there is an excess of evil. It ranges from petty acts to extreme acts of terrorism. There is no true explanation as to why evil exists in our society other than to say that people can be intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to do just about anything.
In The Hunger Games, the whole series revolves around the hunger games and in essence the killing of 11 innocent children for the person in power, President Snow, to prove a point that there are punishments when laws are not adhered to.
In the series, Katniss is seen to be adhering to the principle of Utilitarianism. This is the concept that makes the most people happy and minimizes pain. Katniss is a prime example of this when she reluctantly agrees to become the Mockingjay. Peeta is also seen upholding this principle when he volunteers as tribute in Catching Fire in place of Haymitch. These instances do not coincide with the principle of 'the nature of evil" because these people are shown sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

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Music in general is an easy way for people to bond over something they have common knowledge of or have similar interests in. In the sense of the Hunger Games series, music is not a heavily referenced topic in any of the books. When music is referenced, it has a major effect on the characters, and their emotions in that place in time. The first significant use of music in The Hunger Games, happens when Katniss is placing Rue on her deathbed. Singing is a way for her to remember happier times with her father and since Rue reminded Katniss so much of Prim, it brings her back to her family. This first display of singing also sparks what could be one of Katniss’s first major acts of rebellion. In Mockingjay, the most significant aspect of music is the Hanging Tree song. Katniss had learned it from her dad when she was growing up, but was too young to understand what the lyrics meant. Another important use of music is when Peeta hears the clip of Katniss singing “Hanging Tree” while in District two. Hearing Katniss singing reminded him of her dad when he used to sing it which was a sign of hope for Katniss that she had not completely lost him to the brainwashing of the Capitol.

Music in Appalachia was very important to the people because it was a way for them to connect with others and talk about what was happening in their lives. Most of the music from Appalachia comes in the form of ballads; the telling of a story through song. They would talk about historical events and personal events in hopes that the stories would be passed down and eventually acknowledged in history. As Mr. Michael played for us, he sang a ballad about a man being hung which turned out to be a significant historical moment in history and the use of ballads has helped pass this information along to our time.

Dystopian Society

The Hunger Games trilogy is classified by literature as a Dystopian society, i.e. a utopia gone wrong. The key element of a Dystopian society is that they value stability above all else. During Dr. Carpenters lecture, we discussed the six key factors in a dystopian society including sacrifice, loss of freedom, loss of rights, deception, propaganda, and government control. Throughout The Hunger Games trilogy, all of these elements are clearly displayed.
Sacrifice relates to each district having to involuntarily produce a tribute annually at the reaping ceremony. Loss of freedom is incorporated for each district with the electric fence surrounding each district keeping them from contacting other districts. Loss of rights focuses on the citizens living in the districts, especially in the poorer ones like 12 where they do not have the basic human rights that we have in our modern day society. Deception is discussed heavily in Mockingjay when Katniss and the people of Panem find out about district 13. President Snow did not want the districts knowing about the surviving rebels living in 13. Propaganda is also heavily used all throughout all of the books but is first seen at the reaping ceremony in the first book with the clip of why the hunger games are necessary which is played at the reaping ceremony. Lastly, government control is the basis of the entire series. There is a powerful man, President Snow, who acts as the leader of the country and controls all aspects of it. All trade goes through the Capitol so they are able to regulate what goes in and out of the districts, and control how much they need to rely on the Capitol.

Henthorne mentions in his article how Collins presents “Katniss’s dystopia on a personal level rather than a political one.” In books such as 1984 by George Orwell, the main focus is the political aspect of the dystopian society and how what is happening in politics has changed the society. In the Hunger Games, Collins is able to examine both how the society has changed through a political view and the reign of President Snow, but also how Katniss’s personal life has been affected by it.
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Sunday, May 3, 2015


This semester, my favorite class was this SIS about the Hunger Games. All throughout the semester we were able to incorporate aspects of different disciplines such as sociology and philosophy and I really liked how such a narrow topic was broadened. I really liked learning about the gender roles in Dr. Raley's lecture and how they were applied to the hunger games. I also really liked Dr. Baron's lecture about the nature of evil. His lecture made me think about certain decisions that I had recently made and how every decision one makes truly affects more than themselves. 

My favorite supplemental book was the "Hunger Games Companion" because of the layout of the book. It was an easy read and I liked how it referenced so many connections to the books from other cultures and ideas. I wish I had spent more time reading all of the supplemental articles on blackboard since they were so heavily discussed in class and most of the time I just read them quick the night before. I did like how in the beginning of the semester we had time to fully read the books. I had previously read them all when they first came out and was happy I had time to reread them again. I wish we could have spent more time discussing more specifics about the books and going in depth more about certain important scenes but the group work on questions at the beginning of class helped highlight the major moments in the books.

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Gender Roles

Through the Hunger Games series there are many references and changes to the typical gender roles that are portrayed in modern day movies and books. The typical gender roles have been in some instances reversed and and some stand the typical way that Hollywood wants us to see gender roles as.
In the book series, Katniss is portrayed as a strong independent female which differs from most movies and books written in our modern day. When we compared Katniss to the Bella in the Twilight series, we notice some key differences. Katniss is seen as an "active" character as in she reacts to situations more so than taking initiative which is how Bella is portrayed.  For Katniss' case, this is typical for women in film and literature as not being the "go getters" in the story. Even though Bella is seen as  boy crazed and in need of love, she still initiates things between her and Edward and makes her wants well known.
Gender roles in the Hunger Games  are slightly reversed while having Katniss (a girl) as the main focus. Most action movies or books have men as the lead role because they are seen as the tough able to fight and kill people in our society, Another example of role reversal is in the second book when Peeta takes charge of taking care of the families in the victors village and taking care of Haymitch. Katniss is not stable enough to handle everything and Peeta steps up and takes on the "woman's" role of caretaker. Throughout the districts, the gender roles are also slightly different than portrayed in typical films. Women and men both work the black market which is typically seen as a masculine trait and Peeta is a baker which is definitely a female trait.
In Dr. Raley's lecture, we discussed the Bechdel test and I was surprised with how many movies did not pass it. The Hunger Games does pass the test in the first few minutes with talking to her mother and Prim and Effie. We also discussed how Katniss has masculine and feminine traits. Masculine for hunting and protecting and feminine for using a bow and arrow to hunt. This is seen as a "light" weapon as opposed to a gun.
The gender roles in modern day cinema and literature are drastically changing from what they used to be 30 years ago but there is still a long way to go to equalize men and women portrayed in them.


Monday, March 9, 2015


The definition of a totalitarianism regime is as follows; "Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible." All in all, the citizens have no freedoms not granted by the government. With that in mind, who would want to live in a society with said definition? Some people don't have a choice and this is seen in the books The Hunger Games.  

Suzanne Collins has created this country ruled by President Snow and in essence Panem, is a prime example of a totalitarianism regime. The Hunger Games display this perfectly in that each district is voluntarily sacrificing 2 innocent children each year as symbols for the capital showing that they hold the power in all that they do. Pavlik states, “the Hunger Games were instituted as an annual reminder that rebellion against the Capitol should never again be considered.” It's obvious that nobody would willingly sacrifice innocent children because the government said to because there is no sound reasoning behind it. 

The easiest example to identify a current day totalitarianism example is to look at North Korea. Although it is labeled as a "democratic republic," their ruler still has complete control over all aspects of life so it is in fact under complete control. These types of governments still exist because the citizens just go along with what they have. Change is hard for people and why change something that is not totally broken? 

Sources: Of Bread, Blood, and The Hunger Games, Chapter 2, "Absolute Power Games," by Anthony Pavlik

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Favorite Book

My favorite of the three books was the first "Hunger Games." With the way that most series are, usually the first is the best and most liked. The whole concept of a "gladiator" like fight to the death is such a foreign concept to anybody in our society that it was an attention grabbing topic. I really liked how Collins was describing this society as being such a broken up one separated into different districts and how this non democratic leader President Snow holds the  Hunger Games every year as a remembrance of the rebellion. Most people reading this book probably thought that this was a fictional society since the games were such an outrageous topic but when you think about it she is describing America in the future. I also really like the relationship Collins builds between Katniss and Prim. Their relationship starts strong at the beginning of the book and continues that way all throughout the series. This relationship is really the main focus of the book because if Katniss didn't feel so strongly about her sister she may not have volunteered at the reaping ceremony and the whole book would have been different. Prim's relationship with Katniss is also a strong factor all throughout the book event though she isn't talked about all of the time, Katniss' love for her is such a driving force for her to win the games. Lastly, I really liked this book because of Katniss and Peeta's relationship. They start out so shaky and not wanting to have anything to do with each other (mainly Katniss' choice) but their relationship grows to benefit their chances to win the games and in the end they both win because of their love for each other.