A totalitarian government is known for executing central power over every aspect of life within its borders. It is not afraid to use violence or manipulation in order to suppress opposition. Immediately I can already relate these characteristics to The Hunger Games and other countries around the world.
In my last blog entry, I discussed several elements that made Panem a dystopian society. Gresh describes a dystopia as “a bleak world in which everything is pretty much hopeless. A dystopia is not a fun place to live: people are oppressed, dehumanized, and frightened,” (17). A totalitarian government interrelates to a dystopian society greatly. Totalitarian rule is ruthless, harmful, and detrimental to the well-being of the citizens it rules over. Unfortunately, this type of rule still exists in the world today. Countries such as North Korea and Iraq both exemplify real-world effects caused by a totalitarian regime. Under Kim Jong-il and his brutal successors, North Korea suffered under merciless acts such as public torture, slave labor, and executions. They do not comply with international treaties and often threaten the use of nuclear weapons. In Iraq, Suddam Hussein left detrimental effects to the civilians through the war with Iran and the United States. Human rights are abused and prisoners are constantly tortured. Women receive little to no respect. The fact that these totalitarian regimes can continue dictatorship today in 2015 makes me question our international relations for the future.
Suzanne Collins does an extraordinary job incorporating totalitarianism with the themes of The Hunger Games, creating a trilogy that keeps readers wanting more. Obviously the Capitol has full control (or so they think) over Panem and President Snow is the ringleader. We all know that the 13 districts tried to overthrow the government and instead, 12 were taken over and one was destroyed. As Pavlik states, “the Hunger Games were instituted as an annual reminder that rebellion against the Capitol should never again be considered,” (31). This is the initial event that the Capitol executed, making sure the citizens of Panem knew they would be suppressed. Furthermore, the games embody a totalitarian situation of their own. Each year, a male and female are chosen from each district to participate in a fight-to-the-death challenge with only one survivor. Multiple districts already have advantages, which makes the games unfair. Not only that, the gamemakers purposefully sabotage participants and alliances. Meanwhile, President Snow, “a man who has achieved and kept power by poisoning his enemies and rivals,” (31), continues to sit back and watch the madness of the games unfold. Throughout the trilogy, the Capitol continues to regulate the districts and maintain rule through the games and supervising. This totalitarian rule becomes the backbone of never-ending conflict.
Image Source: http://wp.production.patheos.com/blogs/tinseltalk/files/2012/03/The_Hunger_Games_movie_trailer_clip.jpg
Of Bread, Blood, and The Hunger Games, Chapter 2, "Absolute Power Games," by Anthony Pavlik
The Hunger Games Companion, Chapter 2 by Lois H. Gresh