Archetypes in The Hunger Games

In this article you will learn about the archetypes in The Hunger Games, the novel by Suzanne Collins, which contains examples of various archetypes commonly seen in literature throughout the ages.

What are the Archetypes in The Hunger Games?

Katniss is the archetypal hero of The Hunger Games – the character who displays predominantly good character tendencies alongside heroic qualities of courage, determination, endurance, physical strength, bravery and a strong moral and ethical code.

She fights against evil and injustice, prepared to sacrifice her life for these causes and for the sake of those she loves.

Peeta is an archetypal underdog, one who begins the games in a position where nobody, not even his own mother, really believes in him.

However, he goes on to display all the heroic qualities and strong ethics that Katniss does and ultimately succeeds just as she does, despite having seemingly greater odds against him. Haymitch is the archetypal mentor, an individual tasked with protecting the main hero of the story but doing so with advice and guidance rather than through physical action.

Haymitch uses his greater experience of the world and the Games to enable Katniss and Peeta to navigate the dangers they will encounter. The character of Cinna acts in the same capacity.

Gale is an archetypal star crossed lover, one who feels he is destined to be with Katniss and loves her unconditionally, but is forced to watch as she is torn away from him by her participation in the Games and her growing relationship with Peeta.

Rue is the archetypal innocent, a young child whose life is destroyed by the evil doings of those beyond her age and adult matters beyond even her own comprehension. She is pure, kind and good at heart, helping Katniss survive even at the cost of her own life.

In the battle between the districts and the capitol we see a classic example of the archetypal battle of good versus evil, with the forces of good usually ultimately coming out on top despite seemingly overwhelming odds to the contrary.

The Hunger Games Book Summary

  • Panem is a nation established after an apocalyptic event where the wealthy Capitol exploits it’s twelve surrounding districts for natural resources and labour.
  • District 13 was destroyed by a past failed rebellion. As punishment, a boy and girl aged between 12 and 18 from each district is selected by yearly lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, a contest in which “tributes” fight to the death until one survives.
  • Katniss Everdeen from District 12 volunteers in place of sister Primrose alongside male tribute Peeta Mellark, her former school-friend.
  • They are advised by mentor Haymitch, the only surviving District 12 victor of the Hunger Games.
  • During their evaluation by the Gamemakers, Katniss scores highest. Rue, a small 12-year-old girl tribute, follows Katniss and Peeta around during the training.
  • In a TV interview before the games, Peeta reveals his unrequited love for Katniss, who believes this a ploy to gain sponsors, but later changes her mind. Haymitch then promotes them as “star-crossed lovers“.
  • Nearly half the tributes are killed in a bloodbath at the beginning of the games.
  • Rue alerts Katniss to a “tracker jacker” nest which releases genetically modified flying insects to track whoever disturbs their nest and have venom that targets fear in the mind of the victim.
  • Katniss is stung and begins hallucinating. Peeta tells her to run away rather than killing her.
  • Katniss forms an alliance with Rue, but Rue is killed while Katniss destroys the careers’ supplies. Katniss kills Rue’s killer and spreads flowers over her body in defiance against the Capitol.
  • The rules are changed to allow tributes from the same district to win as a pair.
  • Katniss finds a wounded Peeta and pretends she is in love to gain gifts, risking her life to get him medicine.
  • The medicine saves Peeta’s life, and they become the last survivors. However, the Gamemakers revoke the rule change.
  • They prepare to commit suicide in defiance, but the Gamemakers realise and declare them joint victors.
  • Both receive a hero’s welcome but Katniss is warned by Haymitch that the Capitol may punish her defiance.
  • Peeta is heartbroken to learn that Katniss’s feelings were not genuine, but she is unsure of her feelings and future.

The Hunger Games Archetype Examples

  • Hero
  • Underdog

Want more literary archetypes?

Go check out our extensive list of archetypes in literature to find out more about the characters seen in literature throughout the ages.

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