The Power Elements of Literary Devices in The Hunger Games
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In literature, how an author chooses to construct their words is very important. They need to use them in a way that will allow the reader to take more meaning away from it, and see them as more than just words on paper. Literary devices are what give literature a deeper, more thoughtful meaning. They are not always clear and defined, and sometimes take closer reading to identify their full meaning, but they certainly give more depth to a story. Metaphors, similes, imagery, and tone are just a few examples of the many literary devices and stylistic techniques we are able to see develop throughout the novel The Hunger Games written by Suzanne Collins. Collins uses these devices as an easier way of characterizing Katniss, the protagonist of the novel, and the intense story she has written, making the reader more intrigued and interested in what she has written.
It only takes reading the first few opening lines to come across some of the devices that Collins has cleverly chosen to use. We are almost instantly confronted with a metaphor as Katniss wakes up on “the day of the reaping” (5): “My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress” (2). Collins uses the comparison of the mattress to a rough canvas to imply what her living conditions are like. Normally our beds are a soft and cozy sanctuary that offers comfort, but Katniss refers hers to the texture of canvas paper that is definitely not soft, nor cozy. This metaphor tries to portray that concept of how Katniss lives, and that she does not live a typical, more privileged life. The use of similes is also very evident in this novel. “Prim’s face is as fresh as a raindrop, as lovely as the primrose for which she was named.” (11) Right away, we see how this simile is being used to describe Prim. The comparison of her to that of a raindrop and flower gives a greater degree of meaning to her character, creating the reader to visualize her as a sweet and innocent child. It also allows the reader to understand the sentiment Collins wishes to convey towards her.
Imagery is also another prominent literary device used in literature, and Collins uses it very effectively. It helps the reader to visualize and more realistically experience her writings. It is normally something that is easier than other devices to identify because it gives us a mental image of what the author is saying. “Prim, curled up on her side, cocooned in my mother’s body, their cheeks pressed together.” (8) This image we get of Prim tucked in so closely beside her mother, as if she is “cocooned” to her, shows us how she finds comfort and safety in her mother. With the description of Buttercup, “the world’s ugliest cat” (14), we are also able to easily see the image of the cat in our head. This description not only tells us what the cat looks like, but it gives us an insight to the way Katniss, sees it. She seems to see this cat as more of a beast of a creature rather than a cute and cuddly feline that most people tend to think of cats as. This imagery of the cat helps to set the tone for the book.
The way Katniss describes the cat with more demeaning words gives us a better perspective of her character and essentially the novel as a whole. Between the image we get of the cat, and the way Katniss describes how she feels about it, almost gives off the sense that she not a very sensitive person. She sets the tone of the novel by this, showing the reader a more wry and animalistic side to her: “I think he still remembers how I tried to drown him in a bucket…” (18) Right away, it is clear to see that this story is not going to be your typical romantic, lovey-dovey novel. It almost prepares us for what it entails, letting us know that it will be a malicious and powerful story, filled with depth and meaning that comes from the many literary devices found throughout.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008